No Peace Without Justice and Forgiveness, John Paul II Warns

Message for World Day of Peace 2002

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- In his message for World Day of Peace, John Paul II says that the instability unleashed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will only be overcome by the “pillars of true peace” — justice and forgiveness.

In the document published today by the Vatican, the Pontiff makes an unprecedented analysis of the phenomenon of terrorism.

In it he confirms the “right to defend oneself against terrorism, a right which, as always, must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means.”

The 16-page document also makes an appeal to resolve the half-century-old conflict between Arabs and Israelis through negotiation.

The message, whose motto is “No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Forgiveness,” is a decalogue of sorts on reconciliation.

The purpose of the message, the Pope states, is to raise hopes “that evil, the ´mysterium iniquitatis,´ does not have the final word in human affairs.” World Peace Day will be observed Jan. 1.

“True peace is the fruit of justice,” he states. “Forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice, as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done.”

On the contrary, forgiveness seeks, “rather, the fullness of justice, leading to that tranquility of order which is more than a fragile and temporary cessation of hostilities, involving as it does the deepest healing of the wounds which fester in human hearts. Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such healing,” John Paul II stresses.

The Pontiff explains that this reflection arises, in particular, from his own experience of life.

“The enormous suffering of peoples and individuals, even among my own friends and acquaintances, caused by Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, has never been far from my thoughts and prayers,” he writes.

The Holy Father then applies these principles to the crucial issue of terrorism, “a true crime against humanity.”

Justice recognizes the “right to defend oneself against terrorism, a right which, as always, must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means,” he states.

Yet reconciliation, the Pope insists, must lead to “courageous and resolute political, diplomatic and economic commitment to relieving situations of oppression and marginalization which facilitate the designs of terrorists. The recruitment of terrorists, in fact, is easier in situations where rights are trampled upon and injustices tolerated over a long period of time.”

According to the Holy Father, justice and forgiveness not only must be principles applied by governments but also by religious leaders. Hence his convocation to a Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi on Jan. 24. “You shall not kill in God´s name!” the text states.

The papal message of peace ends by calling for prayers for the victims of terrorism and war, as well as for “those who gravely offend God and man by these pitiless acts, that they may look into their hearts, see the evil of what they do, abandon all violent intentions, and seek forgiveness.”

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