No Prosperity Without Peace, Pope Says During Farewell

Urges Armenia to Persevere in Its Struggles

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YEREVAN, Armenia, SEPT. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- In his farewell bid to Armenia today, John Paul II emphasized that prosperity demands peace.

During his six-day pilgrimage to Kazakhstan and Armenia, the world was braced for a U.S. military response in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Holy Father several times has implored that the events of that day not lead to an indiscriminate war.

During the farewell ceremony at Yerevan´s international airport, the Pontiff appealed to Armenian and other national leaders in this troubled region to “have the wisdom and perseverance to move forward courageously on the path of peace.”

“Without peace, there can be no genuine development and prosperity,” he said.

Among those present was Armenian President Robert Kotcharian and Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Karekin II, head of a Church that separated from Rome 1,500 years ago. Before John Paul II ascended the steps to the plane, he and Karekin II embraced spontaneously.

In a message addressed to the 8 million Armenians spread around the world, the Pope said, “It is true, these are difficult years, and your heart is sometimes weary and unsure.”

The Holy Father was referring to the economic and social crisis that Armenia is enduring.

“Many of your young people have left the land of their birth; there is not enough work and poverty persists; it is hard to keep striving for the common good,” the Pope added.

“Remember that you have put your trust in Christ and said yes to him for ever,” John Paul II said. The Pope came here, in part, to join the celebration of 1,700 years of Christianity as Armenia´s official religion.

“The time is ripe for your nation to gather its cultural resources and spiritual energies in a great concerted effort to develop and prosper on the basis of the fundamental truths of your Christian heritage: the dignity of every human being, the centrality of the person in every relationship and situation, the moral imperative of equal justice for all, and solidarity with the weak and the less fortunate,” John Paul II concluded.

Today, Armenian newspapers begged the Holy Father not to leave. “If you go, the war will begin,” one paper wrote.

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