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Statements made during a news conference, by Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace Department, in response to the capture of Saddam Hussein, were rather telling and raised quite a media and public stir in the U.S. Referring to the video footage that was repeatedly played after Hussein's capture, Martino said, “I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow...Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him.” One wonders if he and/or other Vatican officials did or would have felt the same way after the end of World War II, in regard to the German officials who had been incarcerated.
Martino had been one of the strongest Vatican voices against the U.S.-led war. In addition, the news conference, during which these statements were made, was called in order for him to present the “World Day of Peace” message, in which Pope John Paul scorned the United States for invading Iraq without the backing of the United Nations. In any case, this will serve to further bi-polarize the world—the U.S. and its few allies against the rest.