John Paul II Calls for Peace in Iraqi Crisis

Pope Appeals for All-Out Effort to Avoid War

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2003 ( John Paul II made two urgent appeals this weekend: for prayer and for a proclamation of the «gospel of peace.»

On Feb. 8, the Holy Father called for the «multiplication of efforts» in favor of peace, as «we cannot be hindered by acts of terrorism, or by the threats that are gathering on the horizon.»

«It is, therefore, ever more urgent to proclaim the gospel of peace to a humanity strongly tempted by hatred and violence,» the Pope said, as he met with priests and bishops of the community of St. Egidio, a Catholic movement founded in Rome in 1968.

«We must not be resigned, as though war were inevitable,» he said. Peace requires «recognizing in the other a brother who must be loved unconditionally. This is the path that leads to peace, a path of dialogue, hope, and sincere reconciliation,» he stressed.

«Peace is not so much a question of structures, as of persons,» he added. «Gestures of peace happen in the lives of people who cultivate in their own spirit constant attitudes of peace.»

John Paul II made his second appeal before praying the «Angelus» at midday with several thousand pilgrims Feb. 10.

«At this time of international concern,» we are led «to think that only an intervention from on high can give reason to hope for a brighter future,» he said, quoting his own words from Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

Thus, the Holy Father encouraged the numerous initiatives of prayer for peace that are taking place in different cities, and recommended in particular the praying of the Rosary.

One «cannot recite the Rosary, without feeling oneself involved in a specific commitment of service to peace,» the Pope concluded.

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