03/05/2005, 00.00
IRAQ - VATICAN
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The Iraqi Church never held back, says Bishop Warduni about reporter Giuliana Sgrena's release

The Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad says Iraqi and other foreign hostages should not be forgotten.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "We have communicated in secret when had the opportunity and never failed to put in a good word to those who might do something good," said Mgr Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, speaking about the role the Church played in the liberation of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

This kind of operations "is not one of the Church's main tasks," Bishop Warduni added, "but starting from the Christian principle of loving everyone and harming no one, we have done what we could".

The Iraqi Church, he stressed, never holds back "when something good has to be done". On February 13 for example, John Paul II, who said he was happy on hearing of Giuliana Sgrena's release, had made an appeal to the kidnappers to release her.

"I think that the Pope's appeal and the Church's involvement influenced in a positive way the outcome," Bishop Warduni said. "The Church's contribution was one brick in the building of the whole."

Bishop Warduni said that "we should not forget the other hostages" still held by kidnappers. The latter have different motives; "some are in it for the money; others have political goals; then there are those who want to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq and the foreign terrorists".

The Bishop said that among those still held in captivity there are French journalist Florence Aubenas and Minas Ibrahim al-Yussufi, secretary general of Iraq's Christian Democratic Party.

"I ask Italy and the West," he urged, "to take action to guarantee the freedom and welfare of Iraq as well as [help achieve] peace in the country". (LF)

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