PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL URGES VISITS OF ANNAN TO IRAQ
AND THE POPE TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Brussels, 17 March 2003



As the United States and Great Britain, supported by Spain, make final efforts to win U.N. Security Council backing for military action in Iraq, the international Catholic peace movement expressed once again its strong support for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis. In a communication to the U.N. general secretary on Friday, Pax Christi International urged Kofi Annan to make a personal visit to Baghdad in a last effort to avert the impending war. Annan's mission, explained Pax Christi international secretary Etienne De Jonghe, would be to urge with finality the Iraqi government's immediate and comprehensive disarmament in full cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.

Pax Christi has consistently supported the Roman Catholic Church's many efforts to help resolve the Iraqi conflict peacefully.  In recent days, Pax Christi has been appealing to Pope John Paul II to come to New York in order to address the Security Council. Pax Christi USA, as well as a delegation of U.S. church leaders, have already delivered a similar plea to the Pope at an earlier occasion.  Representatives of Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International and several U.S. Catholic organizations and congregations have been in contact with Vatican representatives to explore the plan.  As the probability of war grows nearer, a papal visit is still viewed by many as a crucial and definitive attempt to avoid a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions.