Rome (kath.net/KNA) Pope Francis holds that a military intervention in Iraq can be justified under certain circumstances. To stop an "unjust aggressor", was "legitimate," he said on Monday before traveling journalists on the flight from Seoul to Rome. "I use the word deliberately stop, I'm not talking of bombing or waging war," said the Pope. When asked whether he would even travel to Iraq, he said: "Yes, I'm ready."
"To stop the unjust aggressor is legitimate," said the Pope. However, the means have to be weighed. In the past, states have, intervened under the pretext of an attacker interfering in the affairs of other countries and even leading to a war of conquest. Francis called for an internationally coordinated approach.
A single state can not take such a decision. In Iraq it was not just about oppressed Christians. "It is true, they are suffering," said the Pope. "But this is about men and women of religious minorities. Not all are Christians. But all are equal before God."
He himself had discussed the situation in Iraq and the problems with the reception of refugees in a personal meeting with the governor of Kurdistan, Francis said. Then he had turned in a letter to the governments with relations to the Holy See states as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and eventually sent Cardinal Fernando Filoni as special envoy to Iraq. Finally, he had also considered a personal journey to Iraq in connection the South Korea trip. He said that the moment "may not be the best thing you can do," Francis said, "but I'm ready."
At his morning Mass in Seoul, Pope Francis spontaneously prayed for his Special Envoy Filoni. Then he recalled "the persecuted and all religious minorities who suffer in this country." Filoni, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation of Missions and experienced Middle East diplomat, has been present since last week in northern Iraq, working towards a solution for the oppressed minorities. Among others, he met with the president of the Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, as well as other politicians and Church leaders. Prior to his posting, Filoni had received instructions for the journey from Francis. Then he said the Pope would rather "most like to go himself."
Iraq is one of the few major countries that John Paul II had not visited (1978-2005). He had entered at 104 trips abroad 127 countries.
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