John Paul II Says Peace Calls for an End to Injustice

Receives Ashes at Basilica of St. Sabina

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ROME, MARCH 5, 2003 ( Calling for the conversion of hearts, John Paul II said there will be no peace as long as social injustice continues in the world.

«There will be no peace on earth while the oppression of peoples, injustices and economic imbalances, which still exist, endure,» the Pope said in his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass.

«But for the desired structural changes to take place, external initiatives and interventions are not enough; what is needed above all is a joint conversion of hearts to love,» the Holy Father said in the Basilica of St. Sabina in Rome.

For this reason, the Pontiff repeated the message that the liturgy gives at the start of Lent: «In the name of Christ we implore you: Be reconciled with God!»

Now is the time to «revise our attitude toward God and toward brothers,» to «examine in depth the criteria that direct us in daily conduct,» and to «return wholeheartedly » to God, he said.

Like Catholics worldwide, John Paul II received the imposition of ashes. He did so from the hands of Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, titular of the Basilica of St. Sabina, and prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Later, the Holy Father placed ashes on the religious of the Dominican community who reside next to the basilica, and on some of those present.

The celebration began with a time of prayer in the nearby church of St. Anselm, next to the Benedictine international seminary.

The penitential procession then made its way to the basilica, where the eucharistic celebration took place, attended by cardinals, bishops, Dominican priests and religious, and lay faithful.

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