Pope uses message to attack hardline Iran

Pope uses message to attack hardline IranThe Sunday Times
January 01, 2006
Christopher Morgan
THE Pope has used his inaugural new year message to launch a veiled attack on Iran’s hardline leadership.

Pope Benedict’s comments follow calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be “wiped off” the global map and his recent dismissal of the Holocaust.

The Pope said: “Authorities who incite their citizens to hostility to other countries bear a heavy responsibility and make the future of humanity more uncertain and anonymous.”

The message, issued by the Vatican yesterday, pointed to “signs of hope” and highlighted “a decrease in the number of armed conflicts” around the world.

However, the Pope condemned the growth in arms expenditure and, in another apparent swipe at Iran, mocked governments who relied on, or aspired to obtaining, a nuclear arsenal.

“In nuclear war there will be no victors, only victims,” he said.

“The truth of peace requires that all — whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms or those planning to acquire them — agree to change by clear and firm decisions and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.”

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, concentrated on achieving peace on a local scale in his new year message.

“We still have to look for the big solutions,” he said. “But let’s start with what anyone can do, anywhere; never mind the success, simply act and speak as if people are worth taking seriously.”

Williams urged people to do what they could to close the gaps between themselves and their neighbours. Part of his message was filmed at a south London drop-in centre for homeless and unemployed people and was shown on BBC television last night.

“Those who work here will tell you that the point isn’t to solve the problems, but chiefly to say to everyone who comes through the door that they don’t have to face them alone,” he said.

Williams said the disasters and tragedies of 2005 had underlined the fact that human suffering affected everyone. He said: “When you have a toothache it isn’t the tooth that feels the misery, it’s you. If anyone is living less than a proper human life, we’re all poorer for it.”