Christians safer under Saddam, Vatican official says

Incoming head of the revived Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, says that the facts speak for themselves on Iraq and that "paradoxically" Christians were better protected under Saddam's dictatorship.

Catholic News Service reports that in 2003 Cardinal Tauran criticised the US government's plan of preventative war and said a unilateral war against Iraq would be a "crime against peace."

In a recent interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, the cardinal said his early criticisms had been prophetic.

"The facts speak for themselves. Alienating the international community (with the US push for war) was a mistake," he said in the magazine's August issue.

He said an "unjust approach" was used to unseat Saddam from power, resulting in the mounting chaos in Iraq today.

"Power is in the hands of the strongest - the Shiites - and the country is sinking into a sectarian civil war (between Sunni and Shiite Muslims) in which not even Christians are spared," he said.

Christians, "paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship," he said.

Cardinal Tauran is a longtime veteran of the Vatican's diplomatic service and a specialist in international affairs. He was Pope John Paul II's "foreign minister," the official who dealt with all aspects of the Vatican's foreign policy from 1990 to 2003.

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