VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II called for an end to the “trading in human lives” caused by kidnappings, especially in Iraq.
The Pope’s words resounded Saturday when he received the Prize for Political Courage (“Prix du Courage Politique”), in recognition of his commitment to world peace and justice, as well as his diplomatic action at the service of freedom.
The award was granted by the French review Politique Internationale in collaboration with the Foreign Policy Association of the Sorbonne University in Paris and with French Catholic television channel KTO.
Present in the Clementine Hall were the review’s editor, Patrick Wajsman; the archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger; and leaders of the cultural world and French civil society.
The Holy Father said he received the award as proof of the Church’s attention to the mission of peace in the world, “where conflicts are unfortunately too numerous.”
“I would like to make a new appeal for peace to build a society of fraternity among peoples,” he said, taking advantage of the ceremony.
“My thoughts go to journalists who, because of their testimony and publication, are architects of peace and freedom,” the Holy Father said.
He said he was thinking of “the kidnapped and their families, innocent victims of violence and hatred, inviting all men of good will to respect the lives of individuals.”
On Aug. 20 two French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq: Christian Chesnot, 37, and Georges Malbrunot, 41.
“No claim can lead to trading in human lives. The way of violence is a dead end,” the Holy Father emphasized.
In a statement sent to ZENIT, Politique Internationale explained that the award was given in recognition of the Pope’s “earthly” work, “in particular his decisive contribution to the dismantling of the Soviet empire and the collapse of Communism in Europe.”
The review also cited “his tireless struggle for the rights of man that has taken him from one end of the planet to another, to upbraid all dictators, whether of the right or the left, from Augusto Pinochet to Fidel Castro.”
During the ceremony, Patrick Wajsman said that with this award his review wishes to honor a person who, “although he dialogues with Eternity, has not failed because of this to realize an immense, gigantic terrestrial work. A work guided by a liberating intention that has few equivalents in history.”
In his address, the review’s editor added: “Holy Father, you are for us, regardless of our creed and our philosophic convictions, a star in the night, an ethical reference, a light that illuminates the ocean.”