VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the response to terrorism must not be motivated by hatred or revenge, and warns that “merely punitive or repressive” measures are not sufficient.
Instead, it is necessary to eliminate the causes of terrorism, the Pope said Saturday when he received the new Indonesian ambassador to the Holy See, Bambang Prayitno, in audience.
Focusing on the subject of terrorism, the Holy Father said that there “is no question that this baneful scourge has grown more virulent in recent years, generating brutal massacres that serve only to exacerbate difficult situations, increase tensions and erode possibilities for peace among peoples and nations.”
“Your own country has unfortunately had firsthand experience of such heinous acts of violence and disregard for the inviolability of innocent human life,” he told the ambassador, who presented his letters of credence.
That same day, a bomb blast killed four people at a cafe in the Palopo area of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, and wounded at least three others, according to police and hospital sources. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.
Extremists of Jemaah Islamiyah, a group linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network, were blamed for the October 2002 attack that destroyed two nightclubs in Bali and killed 202, mostly foreign tourists.
The attack “still remains very much present in the mind and heart of the international community,” the Pope said.
The Jemaah Islamiyah group was also accused of the attack last Aug. 5 on a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which left 12 dead and 150 wounded.
“Despite the contempt for human life that such terrorist attacks represent, our response must never be one of hatred or revenge,” the Pope said. “Nor are measures that are merely punitive or repressive sufficient.”
“The fight against terrorism must also be conducted at the level of politics and education,” he added.
“Political mobilization is needed to eliminate the underlying causes of situations of injustice that can drive people to actions of desperation and violence,” John Paul II explained.
Also “necessary is a commitment to programs of education that are inspired by and foster respect for human life in all circumstances,” he continued.
“In this way the unity of the human race will prevail, proving more powerful than any contingent division separating individuals, groups and peoples,” he said. “And it is precisely in this regard that the great religions of the world have a particularly important role to play.”
“Interreligious understanding and cooperation will in fact do much to promote a clearer sense of the oneness of all mankind, helping to eradicate the social and cultural causes of terrorism,” the Pope said.
“I am convinced moreover that Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious leaders must be at the forefront in condemning terrorism and in denying terrorists any form of religious or moral legitimacy,” he emphasized.
“Dialogue must be promoted as a means of mutual awareness, as an exchange of spiritual patrimonies and as an instrument for peacefully overcoming differences,” the Holy Father said. “This is the only way to guarantee the unity, ensure the stability and build the democracy so ardently desired by the great nation that you represent.”
In his meeting with Ambassador Bambang Prayitno, John Paul II recalled his trip to the Pacific archipelago in 1989 “when I experienced […] firsthand the hospitality, warmth and rich cultural traditions of the Indonesian people.”
Of Indonesia’s more than 234 million inhabitants, 88% are Muslim, 5% Protestant, 3% Roman Catholic, 2% Hindu, 1% Buddhist.