VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2001 ( Absolute respect for religious liberty is an "indispensable" condition to avoid clashes between civilizations, John Paul II says in his Message for the 2002 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Local Catholic dioceses will observe this day on different dates, with the motto "Migration and Interreligious Dialogue."

It is "indispensable for each one," the Pope writes, "to take into account the essential requirements of freedom of religion and of conscience, as stated so well by the Ecumenical Council Vatican II."

"This is the only hope for warding off the dread specter of those wars of religion that have so often bloodied human history, and which have often forced many people to abandon their own countries," the message continues.

"It is urgent to work so that the name of the one and only God may become what it is, ever more a name of peace and a summons to peace," the Pope adds.

In the message, published today by the Vatican Press Office, the Pontiff defends the dignity of the world´s millions of immigrants and appeals, in particular, for respect for religious liberty for Christians living in majority-Muslim countries.

The Holy Father urges that prejudice among believers of various religions be surmounted, in order to foster coexistence based on respect and friendship.

The papal message calls on parishes, communities and individual Christians to go to the assistance of immigrants and refugees.

The Pope stresses, however, that this "cannot be limited to the mere distribution of humanitarian aid," adding that a Christian must "share with those who are welcomed the gift of the revelation of God who is Love."

In presenting the papal message to the press, Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said the Pontiff chose the topic before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The archbishop said: "I think that the papal message for the 2002 Day is more timely than ever, precisely to respond to the invocation of peace that today comes from the lips and hearts of innocent people, who want nothing more than to live a life worthy of human persons, daughters of the one Father, and brothers and sisters among themselves."