“Your [Iraqi] ancient culture has been described as the “cradle of civilization” and has boasted the presence of Christians since the beginning of Christianity itself. Indeed, it has been a fine example of the many ways in which the adherents of different religions can live in peace and harmony.

(…)

Preserving this fundamental principle is basic for any modern society that truly seeks to safeguard and promote the common good. In fulfilling this task, the clear distinction between the civil and religious spheres allows each of these to exercise its proper responsibilities effectively, with mutual respect and in complete freedom of conscience. It is my hope that the Iraqi people will continue to promote their long tradition of tolerance, always recognizing the right to freedom of worship and religious instruction.

(…)

The struggle to overcome the challenges brought about by poverty, unemployment and violence is also currently faced by Iraq. May your government work untiringly to settle disputes and conflicts through dialogue and negotiation, having recourse to military force only as a last resort. Accordingly, it is essential that the State, with the assistance of the International Community, promote mutual understanding and tolerance among its various ethnic and religious groups. This will enable the people of the region to create an environment that is not only committed to justice and peace but is also capable of sustaining the necessary economic growth and development integral for the well-being of your citizens and the country itself. Men and women can together eliminate the social and cultural causes of division and conflict “by teaching the greatness and dignity of the human person, and by spreading a clearer sense of the oneness of the human family””

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Pope St. John Paul II

Address to the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See

November 15th, 2004


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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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