A "war of aggression" is a "crime against peace."

VATICAN, Feb 25, 03 ( -- The Vatican continues its zealous efforts to avoid a war in Iraq. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran has said that a "war of aggression" is a "crime against peace." And L'Osservatore Romano has featured a front page in which the single word "never" appears in enormous type.

Archbishop Tauran, the Vatican's top foreign-policy official, put the prospect of war at the top of his agenda as he addressed an Italian medical group. The archbishop quoted the charter of the UN in condemning any "war of aggression," and bemoaned the fact that the UN document has not been frequently cited in the context of the crisis regarding Iraq. He said that military action against Iraq would be "a crime" if it were undertaken unilaterally, by "one or several states," without UN approval.

Responding to the accusations that Iraq owns weapons of mass destruction, Archbishop Tauran noted that other such arsenals "are present, not only in the Middle East, but in other regions of the world as well." He said that disarmament "is certainly an imperative necessity," but argued that it could be brought about through the process of UN inspections. He sided with the governments of France and Germany in suggesting a longer and more vigorous inspection process.

Meanwhile the official Vatican newspaper reproduced the words of Pope John Paul II from his Sunday Angelus audience, in which the Pontiff condemned "terrorism and the logic of war." The newspaper produced the word "never" in large bold type across the front page, explaining that "never" has become "the last word of peace."