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Papal warning on rift between Vatican hawks and doves

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Yahoo! Asia - News World

Wednesday, October 3 12:04 AM SGT

Papal warning on rift between Vatican hawks and doves


A unprecedented public split between Vatican hawks and doves over the appropriate reaction to the anti-US terror attacks prompted a reminder in the Vatican's official newspaper Tuesday that the Pope's word is final - and that he is a dove in this context.

Catholic doctrine is relatively flexible when dealing with matters of war and peace.

It states that Catholics should seek peace but have a right of self-defence.

Hawks in the Vatican have been emphasizing the self-defence part of the doctrine to such an extent that the pope's newspaper Osservatore Romano felt there was a risk that there would be an impression that Pope John Paul II had given his approval for US strikes against Afghanistan.

In fact in his main speech on the issue, made on September 22 on his arrival for a visit to Kazakhstan, the pope said: "Difficult questions should be resolved not by the recourse to arms but through peaceful means of negotiation and dialogue.

"I fully support the use of this method of engagement which meets the fundamental principles of charity and peace which humans aspire to."

But the chairman of the Italian bishop's conference and John Paul's vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, said two days later, "We must not put in doubt the right, I say even the necessity and the right - to combat and neutralise where ever possible, international terrorism and all those, who at whatever level, are its promoters and defenders."

Ruini at the same time warned against indiscriminate reprisals.

The official spokesman for the Vatican, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has also been quoted as saying that a US strike against Afghanistan would not be an attack but "...a preventive action against a menace which has already shown itself in the horror of recent weeks and which could be repeated."

Because of the tense international situation, the pope decided in an unusual step to leave the official number two in the Vatican hierarchy, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, in Rome when he went to Kazakhstan and Armenia last month, to coordinate the Vatican's response to developments.

In the event Sodano made hardly any official pronouncements on the subject, leading to speculation that the war between the hawks and doves was part of the struggle to decide who would succeed John Paul II.

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