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Does the Vatican really think that?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | May 15, 2003

Today's CWN lead story illustrates a very disturbing trend in Vatican diplomacy.

Civilta Cattolica is generally seen as a semi-official organ of the Vatican Secretariat of State. So when that magazine publishes an editorial wildly critical of the US, it's not unreasonable to see it as an expression of the Vatican's diplomatic posture. And this editorial was simply irresponsible.

There were, and still are, solid arguments against the US military intervention in Iraq. (I, for one, found those arguments convincing.) The Civilta Cattolica editorial raises two quite legitimate points. It is at best questionable-- since we have not found weapons of mass destruction-- that Iraq posed an immediate threat. And the idea of "pre-emptive war" is not easy to reconcile with the just-war tradition. Good points, worth arguing.

But Civilta Cattolica undermines the force of those solid arguments by accompanying them with a shrill, inaccurate, partisan, and frankly loopy points. The notion that the US is only interested in oil is the stuff of dark leftist conspiracy theories, supported by not a shred of evidence. It's an insult to America. It's also a blot on the credibility of the Holy See. And the idea that the UN is the foremost victim is equally insulting to the real human beings who died in this war.

Before and during the war, Vatican officials were going out of their way to emphasize that this was not a crusade against the Muslim world. Now Civilta Cattolica suggests that the US was engaged in an attack on Islam. Which is it?

We can understand the Vatican opposition to the war. But this editorial looks more like a partisan attack on the US. And if the Vatican really sees America as her main international rival, we have problems much more serious than the publication of a wild-eyed editorial.

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