John Paul II Proposes Prayer and Fasting to Counteract Violence

Address Before Angelus

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2001 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address to several thousand pilgrims who gathered today in St. Peter´s Square for the midday Angelus.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I have invited Catholics to live a day of fasting next Friday, Dec. 14, to implore God for a stable peace, founded on justice. This initiative has also met with the support of faithful of other religions, particularly Jews and Muslims, as well as many people of good will.

In the present complex international situation, humanity is called to mobilize its best energies, so that love will prevail over hatred, peace over war, truth over falsehood, forgiveness over revenge.

2. Peace and violence sprout in man´s heart, over which only God has power. Convinced of this, believers have always adopted against the gravest dangers, the weapons of fasting and prayer, coupled with concrete works of charity.

Fasting expresses sorrow over a grave misfortune, but also the desire to assume responsibility to some extent, confessing one´s own sins and being determined to convert the heart and actions to greater justice toward God and one´s neighbor. By fasting, one acknowledges with trusting humility that authentic personal and social renewal can only come from God, on whom we all depend totally. Beyond all pietism and deceptive assistance, fasting also makes possible the sharing of daily bread with those who are deprived.

While I hope that the entire People of God will be able to fast next Friday in a spirit of faith, humility and meekness, I thank the diocesan pastors for the care with which they are preparing this day in their communities.

3. This initiative assumes a singular meaning for us Christians, because we are in the time of Advent, a time of hope in which we are called to work to prepare the ways of the Lord, who has come into history as Savior, and who will return at the end of time as merciful Judge. The date Dec. 14, moreover, coincides with the end of Ramadan, during which the followers of Islam express their submission to the One God through fasting. I very much hope that the common attitude of religious penance will increase reciprocal understanding between Christians and Muslims, called more than ever at the present time to be, together, builders of justice and peace.

May the Virgin Mary, whose feast we celebrated solemnly yesterday and whom Muslims also venerate with great admiration, help us and obtain peace for the entire world.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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