ROME – For anyone familiar with the Vatican’s recent history of bitter opposition to any US use of military force in the Middle East, Rome’s increasingly vocal support for the recent American airstrikes in Iraq may seem, to say the least, a little disorienting.
On Monday, the Vatican’s previously tacit approval for the American intervention turned explicit, as two senior officials offered what amounts to a blessing through official communications channels.
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”
Lingua spoke plaintively of the ordeals faced by an estimated 100,000 Christian refugees from northern Iraq – many of whom, he said, are children – to account for his view of the American campaign.
“You can see these kids sleeping on the streets,” Lingua said, adding, “[there is so much] suffering.”
In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”