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US, Vatican share goals in Iraq, American ambassador says March 26, 2008

The new US ambassador to the Holy See says that Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush will explore their common goals-- including the pursuit of religious freedom, human rights, and a stable democracy in Iraq-- when they meet during the Pontiff's visit to Washington in April.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon said that the Pope and the President had found ample common ground in previous discussions. "They hit it off, so to speak," she reported.

Questioned about the war in Iraq, and the Vatican calls for further efforts to safeguard the Christian minority there, the US envoy observed that after the death of Archbishop Paul Faraj Raho, the US and the Vatican issued statements that were "very much in the same vein-- condemning the violence, condemning terrorism, and especially condemning religion as a pretext for terrorism." The situation in Iraq is difficult, however, she said, because "there are elements in society that are determined to defeat the common aim of the United States and the Holy See."

Acknowledging that there was "some initial disagreement" between the Vatican and the US regarding the war in Iraq, Glendon said that today the two parties share a common goal there: "to promote the building of a free and democratic and stable society where persons of all religious faiths will be protected."

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