VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2003 ( John Paul II says the new globalized world setting requires two conditions to avoid chaos: rediscovery of the natural law, and honest statesmen.

The Pope expressed this conviction when he met today with ambassadors of countries accredited to the Vatican.

"The independence of states can no longer be understood apart from the concept of interdependence," the Holy Father explained. "All states are interconnected both for better and for worse. For this reason, and rightly so, we must be able to distinguish good from evil and call them by their proper names."

"As history has taught us time and time again, it is when doubt or confusion about what is right and wrong prevails that the greatest evils are to be feared," he stressed.

John Paul II then called for respect of "two conditions," if the world is "to avoid descending into chaos."

"First, we must rediscover within states and between states the paramount value of the natural law, which was the source of inspiration for the rights of nations and for the first formulations of international law," he said.

According to No. 1954 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the "natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie."

"Even if today some people question its validity, I am convinced that its general and universal principles can still help us to understand more clearly the unity of the human race and to foster the development of the consciences both of those who govern and of those who are governed," the Pope insisted.

In the second place, the Holy Father said that the globalized world needs "the persevering work of statesmen who are honest and selfless."

"In effect, the indispensable professional competence of political leaders can find no legitimacy unless it is connected to strong moral convictions," he stressed.

"It will always be possible for a leader who acts in accordance with his convictions, to reject situations of injustice or of institutional corruption, or to put an end to them," he continued. "It is precisely in this, I believe, that we rediscover what is today commonly called 'good governance.'"

The Pope added: "The material and spiritual well-being of humanity, the protection of the freedom and rights of the human person, selfless public service, closeness to concrete conditions: all of these take precedence over every political project and constitute a moral necessity which in itself is the best guarantee of peace within nations and peace between states."