Peace Is Not Just a Wish, Papal Preacher Says

Pre-Christmas Homily in Presence of John Paul II and His Aides

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2001 ( Peace and the figure of St. Francis of Assisi were at the center of a friar´s last, pre-Christmas homily in the presence of John Paul II and his colleagues in the Roman Curia.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household, said that the angels´ words, «Peace to men of good will,» are not a wish but news: the announcement that the prophets´ promises have been fulfilled.

These promises of peace seem to contrast with the reality we experience, yet they became real in the lives of the saints, the Capuchin said.

«They help us to read properly the Bible´s promises of peace,» not by interpreting them literally, but by concentrating on their ultimate meaning, he added.

Father Cantalamessa then placed the «poverello» of Assisi at the center of his meditation.

St. Francis fostered peace «among cities, in cities, and not just among men,» the Capuchin said. The meaning of this peace is «the paternity of God,» from whom stems «the happiness of recognizing all creatures as brothers and sisters,» he added.

He concluded that the decisive question of peace lies in man´s heart. The importance of forgiveness, he said, can be understood in the experiences of life as well as with the eyes of faith.

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