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Peace Activist Implores Pope to be 'Ultimate Human Shield'
Published on Thursday, March 6, 2003 by the Toronto Star
Peace Activist Implores Pope to be 'Ultimate Human Shield'
'Only person' who can stop Iraq war
Helen Caldicott sets up campaign
by Leslie Scrivener

Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of the world's most determined peace activists, is imploring Pope John Paul II to go to Baghdad as he is the "only person on earth who can stop this war" in Iraq. (see below)

Caldicott has organized a letter writing and e-mail petition, urging people around the world to write to the 82-year-old Pope asking him to travel to Baghdad and stay there until peace has been achieved.

"Your physical presence in Baghdad will prevent the impending slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human beings," her letter says.

The Australian-born Caldicott, who has written extensively on the nuclear threat, is a former Harvard professor, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and subject of the award winning film If You Love This Planet.

In her letter, circulated on the Internet, she urges ordinary people to make their opposition to war known and send a "mountain" of letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls to the Vatican to persuade the Pope of the need for his immediate, unprecedented action.

"The Pope's presence in Iraq will act as the ultimate human shield," she writes. Though the Bush administration has shown "no reservations about slaughtering up to 500,000 innocents in Iraq, there is one person whose life they absolutely will not risk. That person is Pope John Paul II."

The Pope's travel schedule is usually set months, sometimes years in advance. He had hoped to travel to Iraq in 1999 and 2000, though trips were cancelled.

During Ash Wednesday services yesterday in Rome, the Pope called on Catholics to pray and fast for peace during Lent, the 40-day season of penitence leading to Easter.

And the Pope's emissary, Cardinal Pio Laghi, met with U.S. President George Bush in Washington yesterday. A White House spokesperson said Bush rejects the argument there's no moral justification for a war.

Canadian church leaders marked Ash Wednesday by releasing a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, asking him to redouble Canada's efforts to prevent a war in Iraq and announcing a March 22 ecumenical peace vigil at St. Michael's Cathedral.

The 18 leaders, including Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church, and Bishop Jacques Berthelet, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, stress their "firm belief that war on Iraq, even with explicit Security Council authorization, would be the worst option."

Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited


Urgent Appeal From Helen Caldicott

Dear Friends

I write this appeal for your help as a pediatrician, a mother, and a grandmother -- and I am writing about the lives of tens of thousands of children.

Although the current administration has demonstrated it has no reservations about slaughtering up to 500,000 innocents in Iraq, there is one person whose life they absolutely will not risk. That person is Pope John Paul II.

While the Pope has already formally denounced the proposed war, calling it a defeat for humanity, as well as sent his top spokesperson to meet with Saddam Hussein, he now must take a historically unprecedented action of his own and travel to Baghdad. The Pope's physical presence in Iraq will act as the ultimate human shield, during which time leaders of the word nation can commit themselves to identifying and implementing a peaceful solution to this war that the world's majority clearly does not support.

To persuade the Holy Father to take this unusual but potent action, he must hear from you and millions of others around the world who have already been inspired to stand up and speak out for peace. A mountain of surface mail, email, faxes, and phone calls are our devices to inspire him. Please understand that your taking just a few minutes right now to communicate with him may ultimately spare the lives of thousands of innocent people who at this moment live in complete terror from the threat of an imminent U.S.-lead military strike on their homeland.

So here is what you can do to be a part of this powerful final action to Stop the march to war in Iraq.

1. Do not forward the letter below. Its power depends upon your sending it directly, as a personal communication to the Pope.

2. Simply cut and paste the letter below into a new email. Also cut and paste the Vatican email address we have provided.

3. At the close of the letter, type in your name, city and state--no need to include your address.

4. Either email, ( FAX ([from USA] 011-39-06698-85378--from other countries drop the 011 prefix -- or send a hardcopy of this letter to the addresses in the letter below. DO NOT put "Italy" anywhere on the envelope, as this will send your mail into the Italian mail system which is independend of the Vatican system. Should you wish to phone the Vatican directly, (from USA) dial 011-39-06-69-82--all other countries must use their appropriate international prefix.

5. Pass this original email on to as many people you can so as to assure a critical mass is reached in this action.

6. Note that as you and others begin sending your letters, faxes and emails, there will be a simultaneous effort to alert the media of this action, so as to be sure it is publicly known throughout the world.

Thank you for participating in this formal request of the Pope.

We just may stop this war in Iraq -- and save these childrens' lives.

Dr. Helen Caldicott

His Holiness John Paul II

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City State


"Father, why has thou forsaken me?"

Your Holiness:

I write to you today out of a sense of great urgency. As you know the United States of America is on the verge of launching what may be one of the most cataclysmic wars in history using weapons of mass destruction upon the Iraqi people, fifty percent of whom are less than 15 years of age.

Conservative estimates are that such a war will result in the death of 500,000 Iraqis. It seems clear that, at this time, you are the only person on Earth who can stop this war. Indeed, your physical presence in Baghdad, will prevent the impending slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human beings, and force the international community of nations to identify and implement a truly peaceful resolution to this unprecedented, preemptive aggression.

I implore you to travel to Baghdad and to remain there until a peaceful solution to this crisis has been implemented. The lives of the people of Iraq rest in your hands - as does the fate of the world.

With hope,

(your name)



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