Pope calls upon Christians to fast today for peace
VATICAN CITY — 5 March: Pope John Paul II stepped up his crusade against a looming war in Iraq yesterday, urging the world’s Christians to stage a fast for peace on the same day as his envoy is to meet US President George W. Bush.
The pope said the day of fasting today would remind people of the long years of suffering endured by Iraqi citizens as a result of the international embargo against the country.
The fast will coincide with a meeting today between Bush and the pope’s special envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, who the pope has entrusted with a special plea to restrain the US leader from waging war against Iraq.
The fast is the latest in a series of efforts to avert a war by the pope, who has emerged as one of the most prominent opponents against a US-led conflict with Iraq.
In recent weeks, he has received leaders ranging from Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the US’ key ally on Iraq, and yesterday held talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The pontiff said the day of fasting today should “provide greater understanding of the difficulties and sufferings or our brothers confronted by hunger, misery and war”.