Vatican's View of the Prisoner Abuse

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2004 03:30 PM EDT

The Pope John Paul II prayed for peace in Iraq and the Middle East, during a service attended by 15,000 pilgrims from around the world, May 12, 2004.

"I invite you once again to pray for peace in the world, especially in Iraq and the Middle East," the pontiff said in Saint Peter's Square.

He also urged the 200 Nato officials whom were present, to "promote peace and security.”

Meanwhile, that same day, the Archbishop of Rome, Giovanni Lajolo expressed that Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal by U.S. soldiers had dealt a bigger blow to the United States than the Sept. 11 attacks.

"[It is] a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam,” said Lajolo, during an interview with La Repubblica. “It will fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity.”

"The torture? A more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11, except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves," Lajolo said. "Intelligent people in Arab countries understand that in a democracy such episodes are not hidden and are punished ... Still the vast mass of people — under the influence of Arab media — cannot but feel aversion and hate for the West growing inside themselves."

Lajolo added, "the West is often identified with Christianity,” as he said the coalition should be "putting as soon as possible at the head of the Iraqi executive an Iraqi leader who speaks to the Iraqis in Arabic and not in English."