John Paul II Prays for Speedy End to Iraqi War

Recalls Wisdom of 1963 Encyclical

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2003 ( John Paul II appealed for a speedy end to the war in Iraq and voiced special concern for the unarmed civilian population caught in the conflict.

«God willing, may this conflict end soon and open the way to a new era of forgiveness, love and peace,» the Pope said today when he addressed a crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square before the midday Angelus.

He mentioned that April 11 will be the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the encyclical «Pacem in Terris,» in which Pope John XXIII traced the great lines for the promotion of peace.

«The encyclical reveals itself, also today, of extraordinary importance,» John Paul II said. «To construct peace is a permanent commitment. The reality of these days demonstrates this in a dramatic way.»

«My thoughts turn, in particular, to Iraq and to all who are involved in the war that rages there,» he added. «I think especially of the unarmed civilian population that is subjected to a harsh test in various cities.»

The Holy Father noted that there is a sign of hope amid the darkness, based on the general «conviction that eventual controversies among peoples must not be resolved with recourse to arms but, instead, through negotiation.»

Lastly, the Pope entrusted the «commitment to peace» above all to young people. On Thursday he plans to attend a large meeting with young people from the dioceses of Rome and the surrounding Latium region, as this year’s World Youth Day is being observed at the diocesan level.

John Paul II said he attached great importance to that meeting, as it «is indispensable to educate the new generations to peace, which must be ever more the lifestyle.»

He said that peace must be based on the «four pillars» proposed by John XXIII: truth, justice, love and liberty.

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