BY ANDREW M BROWN
THE CHAIRMAN of Cafod, Bishop John Crowley of Middlesbrough, urged caution this week before a military strike against Iraq and said "every last diplomatic effort to the nth degree" should be used to avert the need for bombing raids.
The Bishop was speaking to the Catholic Herald on Tuesday, the day a Guardian/ICM poll showed that a clear majority of British people backs British involvement in military action against Saddam Hussein, and as the United States and Britain were beefing up their presence in the Persian Gulf. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq has refused to allow unconditional United Nations inspection of his chemical weapons installations.
George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, told MPs on Monday that Saddam's armoury may contain "large quantities" of a "horrifying" chemical known as Agent 15, which devastates the nervous system causing dizziness, hallucinations and loss of coordination.
"My view is the Pope's view, which is that we should go on trying diplomatic means," Bishop Crowley said. "The more reflective voices are saying yes, of course, he must comply and the wicked things which are there, chemicals and so on, must be destroyed. But if bombing happens, who are the people who are going to suffer?"
The Holy Father, who was an outspoken critic of the Gulf War in 1991, warned, during a Sunday blessing on 8 February, that bombing Iraq would be counterproductive.
He said: "The very situation in Iraq and in the entire region of the Middle East teaches us that armed conflicts do not resolve problems, but create greater misunderstandings among peoples."