Indiscriminate Reprisals Won´t Defeat Terrorism, Vatican Aide Warns

Holy See Reported Perplexed by U.S.-British Campaign Against Afghanistan

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Terrorism is not defeated with “revenge” or “reprisals which strike indiscriminately at the innocent,” a Vatican aide told the U.N. General Assembly.

The remarks Monday by the Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, came in the wake of the U.S.-led military response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Acts of revenge will not cure such hatred. Reprisals, which strike indiscriminately at the innocent, continue the spiral of violence and are illusory solutions that prevent the moral isolation of the terrorists,” the archbishop said during the Assembly´s plenary session on the “Culture of Peace.”

“Rather, we must remove the most obvious elements that spawn the conditions for hatred and violence, which are contrary to any movement toward peace,” Archbishop Martino added. He mentioned “poverty” as well as different forms of violations of human rights.

The Vatican agency Fides, reporting on the speech, said, “Archbishop Renato Martino voiced the Holy See´s perplexity regarding the military campaign against terrorism launched by the Anglo-American alliance in Afghanistan.”

The archbishop told the U.N. body during his 10-minute address: “Situations of marginalization that engulf the lives of so many of the world´s people, including the denial of human dignity, the lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, social exclusion, intolerable refugee situations, internal and external displacements, and physical and psychological oppression are breeding grounds only waiting to be exploited by terrorists.”

Any “serious campaign against terrorism also needs to address the social, economic and political conditions that nurture the emergence of terrorism, violence and conflict,” he added.

The prelate explained that the suicide attacks are not the only forms of present-day terrorism.

“In some cases, it is almost institutionalized, possibly based on systems that utterly destroy the freedom and rights of individuals ´guilty´ of not bringing their thought into line with the triumphant ideology,” he said.

“Today these persons are unable to attract the attention and support of international public opinion, but they must not be forgotten or abandoned,” the archbishop pleaded.

“Those who honor God must be in the first rank of those who fight against all forms of terrorism,” Archbishop Martino said.

He added a quote from the Pope: “As members of the one human family and as God´s beloved children, we have duties towards one another that, as believers, we cannot ignore.”

Archbishop Martino said that peace, including in the present situation, depends on dialogue. To clarify his proposal, he quoted that papal message for the 1983 Day of Peace: “I am profoundly convinced that dialogue — true dialogue — is an essential condition for such peace. Yes, this dialogue is necessary, not only opportune.”

“In this light,” the archbishop continued, “the world must recognize that there is hope. Building a culture of peace is not preposterous, nor a utopian dream.

“If, for these reasons, we are convinced that peace is a ´good in itself,´ we must build a culture of peace. Peace is first known, recognized, willed and loved in the heart.”

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