Responding to the charges made by Mark Shea in the comments of this post on my site, Mark Sullivan offers the words of Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Bidawid as evidence that his sympathies seemed to lie toward Saddam’s regime, ignoring the fact of Saddam’s brutal treatment of his people and accusing the US and the UN of starving and killing the Iraqi people rather than Saddam.
Larger-than-life and enrobed in crimson, Patriarch Bidawid says the secular policies of the ruling Ba’ath Party—itself founded by a Syrian Christian, Michel Aflaq—have been good for Iraqi Christians. “In former times, we have been badly treated, but under the lay regime of President Saddam Hussein, there is no discrimination against us,” he says. …
[In an interview with the news service Fides]
Fides: American sources claim that Saddam has hidden his arms in Algeria, Sudan, and Libya.
Raphael I: That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. My country is under blockade, almost nothing can come in or go out. How could the government transfer arms? With a special tunnel built to smuggle arms that would reach to Algeria, Khartoum, or Tripoli? Do you really believe that Saddam has arms in his palaces? Even if he had, by now he would have already relocated them. Saddam’s biggest worry right now, since he knows he cannot bear another conflict, is to avoid provoking a confrontation. The truth is that he wants the blockade removed and he’s willing to risk everything in order to achieve it. And the people, unfortunately, are behind him all the way on this point. No people should be humiliated to this extreme. The people of Iraq believe it is better to die fighting than to continue suffering misery and humiliation. …
[From a newspaper article]
John Paul is well aware that the leading Catholic in Baghdad, the Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, holds that Iraq has an equally “just cause.” We may think Iraq’s historical claim to Kuwait is nonsense, but that is not self-evident. Raphael may appear as a terrified buffoon (“Saddam is a gentleman”) but the Pope has to respect his concern for the pastoral situation in the post-war period. Peter Hebblethwaite, Manchester Guardian Weekly, Feb. 17, 1991
Read the whole thing and you decide.