To Fight Terrorism, Go to Its Root Causes, Says John Paul II

Focuses on Injustice and Oppression

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 8, 2002 ( As Sept. 11 approaches, John Paul II appealed to world leaders to combat terrorism by fighting its roots, especially injustice and oppression.

To respond to terrorism means “to undertake new and creative political, diplomatic and economic initiatives aimed at relieving the scandalous situations of gross injustice, oppression and marginalization which continue to oppress countless members of the human family,” the Pope said Saturday.

“History, in fact, shows that the recruitment of terrorists is more easily achieved in areas where human rights are trampled upon and where injustice is a part of daily life,” the Holy Father said, when receiving the letters of credence of Kathryn Frances Colvin, the new ambassador of Great Britain to the Vatican.

“This is not to say that the inequalities and abuses existing in the world excuse acts of terrorism,” he added. “There can never, of course, be any justification for violence and disregard for human life.”

John Paul II condemned all terrorism. “Ultimately, terrorism is built on contempt for human life,” he said, echoing his Message for World Day of Peace 2002. “For this reason, not only does it commit intolerable crimes, but, because it resorts to terror as a political and military means, it is itself a true crime against humanity.”

“However, the international community can no longer overlook the underlying causes that lead, young people especially, to despair of humanity, of life itself, and of the future, and to fall prey to the temptations of violence, hatred and desire for revenge at any cost,” the Pope added.

This was why the Holy Father convoked the Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, last Jan. 24, attended by religious leaders, “to cooperate, together with men and women of good will everywhere, in building a future of peace.”

“In the end, it is in the conversion of hearts and the spiritual renewal of societies that the hope of a better tomorrow lies,” the Pope said.

“The building of such a global culture of solidarity is, perhaps, the greatest moral task confronting humanity today,” he stressed.

This is the great challenge Western countries face, where Christian values are “now being called into question by alternative cultural models,” the Bishop of Rome added.

These models “are grounded in an exaggerated individualism which all to often leads to indifferentism, hedonism, consumerism and a practical materialism that can erode and even subvert the foundations of social life,” he concluded.

Born in 1945, Kathryn Frances Colvin, the new British ambassador, is a career diplomat who previously was head of protocol in her homeland.

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