Your editorial on the Pope and Iraq well points out that the Pope did not “condemn” the Iraq War (“Liberation Day,” April 20-26).

However, virtually all Vatican predictions about the war were wrong, just as they were in the instance of the Persian Gulf War, at which time the most authoritative statements bordered on hysteria.

Before [Operation Iraqi Freedom], highly placed members of the Curia disparaged the United States, said that Saddam Hussein was making “every effort to secure peace” and went so far in abusing theology as to say that there can no longer ever be a just war. The Iraq War was called “a crime that screams to the heavens.” A Vatican spokesman engaged in a kind of Jesse Jackson doggerel in saying that the solution is “the force of law and not the law of force.”

None of this was corrected or reproved, so one may proceed in the belief that such represents the mind of the Holy See. Dire predictions of Vatican diplomats have been radically wrong and yet there has been no apology, although public apologies for alleged mistakes of our Catholic ancestors have become habitual since the Great Jubilee.

The historian and journalist Paul Johnson has said: “Fate, or Divine Providence, has placed America at this time in the position of sole superpower, with the consequent duty to uphold global order and to punish, or prevent, the great crimes of the world.” This requires the sober commentary of theologians, and it will not be addressed wisely by perpetuating a romantic trust in a discredited United Nations.

To avoid this reality forces the question of whether the offices of bishop and diplomat are incompatible.

Father George Rutler

New York City

The writer is pastor of the Church of Our Savior in Manhattan.

Editor's note: We would only point out that though the statements you quote were never publiclyrebuked, readers will have noticed that they stopped several weeks ago. Only a few now speak for the Vatican on war questions, and we expect you will find them more circumspect.