Vatican City, Feb. 9 (Reuters): Pope John Paul made a dramatic appeal today for world prayer to avert war and sent a top cardinal on a peace mission to Baghdad to try to convince Iraq to cooperate with the international community.
The Vatican said Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a retired Frenchman who has carried out numerous delicate papal missions, would leave for Baghdad on Monday.
In his appeal for peace, made to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing, the pope said it sometimes appeared that only God could now stop a conflict.
“At this hour of international worry, we all feel the need to look to God and beg him to grant us the great gift of peace,” the 82-year-old pontiff said.
“The difficulties on the world horizon present at the start of this new millennium lead us to believe that only an act from on high can make us hope in a future that is less bleak,” he added.