VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- When John Paul II received the new ambassador of the Philippines to the Vatican today, he made it clear that peace cannot result from violence and conflict.
“The pillars of peace in your land, as everywhere else, are justice and forgiveness,” the Pontiff said when he received the credential letters of Francisco Acevedo Alba.
It is the “justice that ensures full respect for rights and responsibilities, and equitable distribution of benefits and burdens; and the forgiveness that heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations,” the Holy Father said.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Holy Father said the world “cannot think that justice and forgiveness will come as the result of violence and conflict; they are moral virtues that entail our personal and collective responsibility to choose what leads to the common good and avoid all that denies or distorts the truth of our being.”
In his address to Ambassador Acevedo Alba, 67, a well-known businessman, the Holy Father said the Philippines was also profoundly affected by the consequences of the September attacks.
In recent years, Muslim terrorism has also shaken the Philippine archipelago. The Abu Sayyaf is active there, and has attacked the Manila government with kidnappings, blackmail and murders. This group has the support of Osama bin Laden´s network.
The Philippines is also affected by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an organization that struggles for the creation of an Islamic state in the south of the Philippines and that, according to the missionary agency Fides, has links with international terrorism.
Of the nation´s 82 million inhabitants, 83% are Catholics, 9% Protestants, and about 5% Muslims.
John Paul II proposed dialogue as the road to follow. “A negotiated solution to long-standing difficulties has not been forthcoming and the level of conflict has risen,” he said. “Let me repeat here what I proposed in this year´s Message for the World Day of Peace.”
He emphasized “that violence in all its forms is totally incompatible with true religious sentiment, and indeed with human dignity.”
John Paul II also warned Philippine Catholics of the illusion of policies whose sole objective is “economic progress, which is all too often measured in terms of increased consumerism, as if that alone could satisfy people´s aspirations.”
“It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life that is presumed to be better when it is directed toward having rather than being, and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself,” the Holy Father concluded.