VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2003 ( Given the threats to coexistence in the world, John Paul II says that the most urgent commitment today is to teach, and witness to, peace.

This was the Pope's conclusion at his traditional pre-Christmas meeting with his collaborators of the Roman Curia, in which he reviewed the most important events in the Church and the world during 2003.

"To be witnesses of peace; to teach peace!" the Holy Father said. It is a "commitment that is more urgent than ever for our era, in which risks and threats to the peaceful coexistence of humanity continue to gather on the horizon."

John Paul II dedicated some of his most important addresses this year to recall the 40th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris," published at the height of the Cold War.

"Peace continues to be possible today and, if possible, it is a duty," John Paul II said, summarizing the essence of the message he wrote for the forthcoming World Day of Peace.

"May the Child of Bethlehem, whom we prepare to receive in the mystery of Christmas, bring to the world the precious gift of peace," the Holy Father said when bidding his collaborators farewell.