VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2004 ( In world marked by war, terrorism and violence, John Paul II is launching a campaign to overcome evil with good.

This is the essence of the Pope's message for the next World Day of Peace, to be observed Jan. 1.

The theme of the text, published today, is the same advice given by St. Paul to the first Christians in Rome: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The text will be sent to the world's leaders and to key international organizations.

"Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil," the Holy Father states in his message. "Peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good."

"Evil is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world. It is the result of human freedom," he states. "Evil always has a name and a face: the name and the face of those men and women who freely choose it."

In this connection, John Paul II thinks "immediately of the beloved continent of Africa, where conflicts which have already claimed millions of victims are still continuing."

The Pope also highlights "the dangerous situation in Palestine, the land of Jesus, where the fabric of mutual understanding, torn by a conflict which is fed daily by acts of violence and reprisal, cannot yet be mended in justice and truth."

"And what of the troubling phenomenon of terrorist violence, which appears to be driving the whole world towards a future of fear and anguish? Finally, how can we not think with profound regret of the drama unfolding in Iraq, which has given rise to tragic situations of uncertainty and insecurity?" the Holy Father asks.

For good to overcome evil, the message proposes the rediscovery of the "universal moral law," as well as of "the common good."

The "grammar" of the universal moral law "unites human beings," "inspiring common values and principles, ... despite their different cultures, and is itself unchanging," he explains.

For its part, the common good is of decisive importance in the age of globalization, he points out. It calls for "respect for and the integral promotion of the person and his fundamental rights, as well as respect for and the promotion of the rights of nations on the universal plane."

"As a member of the human family, each person becomes as it were a citizen of the world, with consequent duties and rights, since all human beings are united by a common origin and the same supreme destiny," the message states.

"By the mere fact of being conceived, a child is entitled to rights and deserving of care and attention; and someone has the duty to provide these," the Pope continues. "The condemnation of racism, the protection of minors, the provision of aid to displaced persons and refugees, and the mobilization of international solidarity towards all the needy are nothing other than consistent applications of the principle of world citizenship."

John Paul II also reaffirms "the principle of the universal destination of the earth's goods," which "can also make possible a more effective approach to the challenge of poverty, particularly when we consider the extreme poverty in which millions of people are still living."

It calls, therefore, for fulfillment of the "priority" commitment set by the international community of halving the number of poor by 2015, and solving "the problem of the external debt of poor countries."

These nations, especially those in Africa, must be helped "through foreign financial aid -- public and private -- granted under reasonable conditions, within the framework of international commercial relations regulated with fairness," the Pope adds.

The Holy See confirmed today that the Pope will preside over Mass the morning of Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace.

Also today, when the Holy Father received the new ambassadors from Kenya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Norway and Thailand, he reiterated his message for the World Day of Peace.

"I again make an appeal to all men of good will to finally lay down their arms and undertake the path of confident and fraternal dialogue," he said. "Violence does not serve the cause of peoples or their development."

Pope Paul VI instituted the World Day of Peace in 1967.