Pope Francis Calls for ‘Self-Control’ amid U.S.-Iran Tensions

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Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
ROME — Pope Francis appealed for an exercise of self-control and dialogue Sunday as tensions increase between the United States and Iran following a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

“War only brings death and destruction,” the pope said Sunday, following his weekly Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square.

There is a “terrible air of tension” in many parts of the world, Francis said. “I call upon all parties to keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-control, and to banish the shadow of enmity.”

In its report on the meeting, Vatican News noted that the pope did not mention any specific countries, yet made it clear that he was referring to the U.S.-Iran situation.

“Pope Francis’ appeal comes on the heels of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, after a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general in Iraq,” Vatican News stated.

General Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Force, the agency observed, the wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in charge of military activities outside Iran.

“His death on Friday in Baghdad raised the threat of direct confrontation between the US and Iran,” Vatican News warned.

For his part, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Cardinal Louis Rafaël Sako, expressed his indignation that the strike should have been carried out on Iraqi soil.

“It is deplorable that our country should be transformed into a place where scores are settled, rather than being a sovereign nation, capable of protecting its own land, its own wealth, its own citizens,” the cardinal said on Saturday.