Violence Won't Halt Terrorism, Says Pope

“We Need the Courage to Globalize Solidarity and Peace”

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2004 ( John Paul II affirmed in a message of a personal tone that “violence always generates violence” and thus it cannot be the answer to terrorism.

“War never again!” he exclaimed in a letter he sent to the participants of the “Men and Religions” meeting, held this week in Milan and organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Milan Archdiocese.

The Pope said that he already had this conviction when he convoked the leaders of the world’s religions to the historic prayer meeting in Assisi, Italy, in 1986.

“I am even more convinced of it today: As the body grows weak, I feel the power of prayer grow,” he said.

Indeed, the Men and Religions meeting, held every year in a different city, seeks to foster the “spirit of Assisi.” On this occasion, it gathered more than 350 religious representatives and cultural figures. It ended on Tuesday with an appeal which reminded the participants that “the name of God is peace.”

“The world needs peace,” the Holy Father said in his letter, taken to the congress by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“Every day we hear news of violence, terrorist attacks, military operations,” the Pope noted.

“Is the world truly abandoning all hope of attaining peace?” the Holy Father asked. “At times it seems the world is getting used to violence and the shedding of innocent blood.”

“As we face these troublesome events,” John Paul II exhorted people of all religions to “withstand the logic of violence, revenge and hatred, and persevere in dialogue.”

“We need to break the deadly chain that imprisons the world and sheds its blood. In this sense, there is so much believers can do,” he added.

Recalling the anniversary of “that terrible September 11, 2001,” the Pope said the “fight against the death-makers doubtless requires firmness and resoluteness.”

“At the same time, however, it is necessary to make every possible effort to eradicate misery, despair, emptiness of heart, and whatever favors this drift toward terror,” he continued.

“We must not let ourselves be overwhelmed by fear, which leads men and women to focus only on themselves and strengthens the selfishness entrenched in the hearts of individuals and groups,” the Pontiff wrote.

“We need the courage to globalize solidarity and peace,” he insisted. Of the Iraqi people, he said: “Every day, I invoke for them peace from God, that peace which mankind is not capable of giving.”

“Peace never requires violence, it always calls for dialogue,” the Holy Father wrote. “War throws open the doors to the abyss of evil. War makes anything possible, even what is totally irrational.”

“That is why war should always be considered a defeat: the defeat of reason and of humanity,” he said. “May a new spiritual and cultural thrust soon lead humankind to banish war.”

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