DECLARATION BY CARDINAL ROGER ETCHEGARAY
Baghdad, 15 February 2003
"I understand that you have been awaiting the present moment with great interest, given the importance of the meeting I have just left. For your part, you understand that the spiritual nature of my mission gives my words a special tone to which you are doubtless used to. The Church indeed has her own way of speaking of peace, making peace, among those who, for diverse reasons, employ themselves with such great tenacity. The Church, according to words by Pope John Paul II, is the spokesman of the 'moral conscience of mankind in its purest state, of a mankind that desires peace, that needs peace'.
"It is in this sense that my meeting with President Saddam Hussein touched upon concrete questions that I cannot mention through respect for the person who sent me as well as for the person who received me: It is a matter of seeing if everything has been done to safeguard peace while establishing a climate of confidence that allows Iraq to rediscover its place in the international community. At the heart of our meeting were the Iraq people who, I have noted from Baghdad to Mossoul, aspire so much to a just and lasting peace after years of suffering, for which the Pope and the universal Church have always expressed their solidarity.
"In the name of the Pope, I dare to appeal to the conscience of all those who, in these decisive days, shoulder the future of peace. For, in the end, it is one's conscience which will have the final word, which is stronger than all strategies, all ideologies and even all religions."