STATEMENT OF CARDINAL ROGER ETCHEGARY,
Sunday, 16 February 2003
I have just experienced in Iraq an extraordinary intensity of communion with the person who sent me there, Pope John Paul II. Seldom, have I felt so strongly that I was not only the bearer of his message of peace but that he himself was present. I only followed him among the Christian communties, among all the Iraqi people, to President Saddam Hussein who showed a profound willingness to listen to a living word that comes from God, and that every believer, as descendant of Abraham, welcomes as the surest leaven of peace.
As I leave this land, unjustly cut off from all others, I want to be more than the simple echo and amplifier of the aspiration of a country that has an urgent need of peace.
Among the dark clouds that recently have gathered, here is a small glimmer of light. But let no one stop praying. The new and brief respite which has been granted must be used by all in a spirit of reciprocal confidence to respond to the demands of the international community. The least step in these days will have the value of a great leap towards peace.
Yes, peace is still possible in Iraq and for Iraq. I depart for Rome crying this out more strongly than ever.