VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2003 ( In a message written for the 17th General Assembly of Caritas International, John Paul II called for a radical change in the concept of solidarity at the global level.

With the motto "Globalizing Solidarity," the July 7-12 meeting in Rome has gathered 450 delegates of the more than 150 national Caritas organizations.

The papal message, addressed to Bishop Youhanna Fouad El-Hage, president of Caritas International and Maronite prelate of Tripoli in Lebanon, begins by noting that "globalization has become the obligatory horizon of all politics."

"For solidarity to become global, one must effectively take into account all peoples of all regions of the world," the Pope said.

"This calls for great efforts, and, above all, of firm international guarantees vis-à-vis humanitarian organizations, often put to one side, despite themselves, wherever there are conflicts because they cannot be guaranteed security nor be assured of the right to assist persons," he added.

"To globalize solidarity also calls for working in close and constant relation with international organizations, which guarantee law and legality, to balance in a new way relations between rich and poor countries, so that aid relations in just one direction will cease, which too often contribute to the increase of the imbalance through a mechanism of permanent debt," the papal message continued.

"It would be more convenient to effect a genuine cooperation on the basis of relations of parity and reciprocity, which recognize the right of each and all to be masters of their own future," John Paul II explained.

The message ends with a reminder directed in particular to believers.

Globalization of solidarity "is above all a response to the pressing appeals of the Gospel of Christ. For us Christians, and for all men and women, this demands a true spiritual path, the conversion of minds and of persons," the Holy Father said.

"Aid cannot be mere almsgiving to the poor, making the giver feel proud and the recipient feel humiliated," he added. "Aid must be 'fraternal sharing.'"