VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican reacted quietly to news of Saddam Hussein’s capture last week, with Church officials in Rome predicting that Iraq still has a rough road ahead.
In Iraq, bishops and other Church leaders said Saddam’s detention would help the country “turn the page” in building social peace and order. But they, too, cautioned that violence would probably continue for some time in the country.
Neither Pope John Paul II nor the Vatican press office had any immediate official comment on Saddam’s capture, which was announced as the Pope prayed the Angelus on December 14 with pilgrims at the Vatican.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported the news the next day on its front page under the headline: “A trail of blood follows the capture of Saddam Hussein”. The newspaper noted that a series of deadly attacks had continued in Iraq after Saddam’s arrest.
An informed Vatican official, who asked not to be identified, said the Vatican hoped Saddam’s arrest would “help contribute to improving the security situation”.
Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, Chaldean Bishop Shlemon Warduni, said Saddam’s capture was a surprise for everyone. Although many Iraqis presumed he was behind the recent attacks against US and allied targets, Bishop Warduni said that was a simplification.
Chaldean Bishop Rabban Al-Qas of Amadiyah in northern Iraq said that with the capture of Saddam “the head of the serpent has been crushed”.