Pope Warns That War Could Bring 'Religious Catastrophe'
Sunday, March 30, 2003; Page A30
VATICAN CITY, March 29 -- Pope John Paul II said today he hoped that the human tragedy of the war in Iraq would not set Christians and Muslims against each other and spark "a religious catastrophe."
"War must never be allowed to divide world religions," he told visiting Roman Catholic bishops from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. The pope said good inter-religious relations were important "at this moment of heightened tension in the entire world community."
"Let us not permit a human tragedy to become a religious catastrophe," he said.
The pope is opposed to the war in Iraq and led a Vatican diplomatic campaign to avert it. The Iraq conflict has put the Vatican at odds with the Bush administration because the pope has refused to bless the conflict as a "just war."