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FROM ZENIT NEWS AGENCY

INTERVIEW WITH PATRIARCH BIDAWID OF IRAQ

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IRAQ: INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY GUILTY OF GENOCIDE. Chaldean Patriarch Bidawid Denounces U.S. Bombing Threat

BAGHDAD, NOV 13 (ZENIT).- "With what conscience can you accept this

genocide? There is no reason capable of justifying an attack against a

whole people." This is the appeal the patriarch of the Babylon of the

Chaldeans has made to Bill Clinton, through the Vatican agency 'Fides.' His

Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid is the spiritual leader of the majority of

Iraqi patriarchs, whose liturgy is celebrated in Aramaic, which was the

language of Jesus. The leader's words are harsh, but every time there are

tensions in his country, -- he points out -- the international community

decides to bomb its people, instead of looking for a real solution.



--Beatitude, How do you interpret the bombing threat?

--Raphael I Bidawid: It has come as a surprise to think that soon a new war

will begin, even though limited, to knock out certain 'strategic' places in

Iraq which, needless to say, could also be essential infrastructures for the

life of the country, as happened in 1990. We protest with all our might

against these threats which have created a new imbalance. There is great

consternation among the people, especially as they were hoping for the

lifting of the embargo which has been chastising Iraq for eight years.



--What would you say to Clinton today?

Raphael I Bidawid: To sensitize his conscience. With what conscience has he

the courage to accept this genocide? There is no reason at all to justify

such a decision.



--What evils has the embargo caused?

--Raphael I Bidawid: The embargo is causing material, physical and sanitary

ruin, and has spread great misery among the people. This misery has resulted

in the death of more than a million children from lack of food and

medication. Even today, the embargo is responsible for some 20 thousand

deaths a month among children, both at home and in hospitals. It is a

tragedy, not to say a genocide, inadmissible in our times considered

civilized. If this is the new world order that is talked about, than we rebel.



--John Paul II wants to visit Iraq. Is this possible?

--Raphael I Bidawid: During my last visit to Rome this past October, the

Pope told me again about his plan to make a pilgrimage retracing Father

Abraham's steps, beginning at Ur of the Chaldeans (today's Iraq). The

Secretariat of State of the Holy See is studying the possibility of such a

visit in November, 1999. We are working to have the government officially

invite the Holy Father to visit Iraq.



Of the total Iraqi population of 20 million, one million are Christians, of

whom 80% are of the Chaldean rite (the majority) or the Latin rite.

ZE98111303

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