Washington D.C., Mar 21, 2023 / 10:41 am
The papal nuncio who served in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion 20 years ago told Vatican News that Christians in Iraq were worse off after Saddam Hussein was removed from power.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 as the Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq and Jordan. He told Vatican News that when war broke out on March 20, 2003, he remained at his post at the papal nunciature in Baghdad.
“I remember this period as one of the most tough periods of my life,” Filoni said. “This was the moment in which not only myself but also the bishops, the priests, the faithful, and the people in Iraq, we had the perception of our incapacity to give a different perspective than that of war.”
In the weeks before the U.S. invasion Pope John Paul II had pressed for peace. Addressing the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Jan. 13, 2003, the pope said: “No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.” He announced a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Middle East to take place on March 5, 2003.