VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2005 ( In his first message for a World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI denounces the threats posed by terrorism and the arms race, particularly in nuclear weapons.

Like his predecessors, the Pope wrote a message for the day, to be observed Jan. 1, with the theme "In Truth, Peace." Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the message today to the press at the Vatican.

The text explains in what consists the truth of peace and the current threats toward violence in the world.

"We need to regain an awareness that we share a common destiny which is ultimately transcendent, so as to maximize our historical and cultural differences, not in opposition to, but in cooperation with, people belonging to other cultures," the Holy Father wrote.

Peace is not the "mere absence of war," he said, but rather is "a harmonious coexistence of individual citizens within a society governed by justice, one in which the good is also achieved, to the extent possible, for each of them."

"The truth of peace calls upon everyone to cultivate productive and sincere relationships," Benedict XVI contends. "It encourages them to seek out and to follow the paths of forgiveness and reconciliation, to be transparent in their dealings with others, and to be faithful to their word."


The truth of peace is valid "even amid the tragedy of war," he insists. When war breaks out, "not everything automatically becomes permissible."

For this reason, the papal message is dedicated to the application of international humanitarian law, and underlines that "its value must be appreciated and its correct application ensured; it must also be brought up to date by precise norms applicable to the changing scenarios of today's armed conflicts and the use of ever newer and more sophisticated weapons."

Upon analyzing the actual threats to peace, the papal message mentions above all terrorism.

"To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offense against the dignity of the human being, and ultimately an offense against God in whose image he is made," Benedict XVI wrote, quoting a phrase of Pope John Paul II.

After demonstrating how nihilism is found in the roots of terrorism or fanatical fundamentalism, Benedict XVI considers that to remove this plague it is necessary that "consideration should be given, not only to its political and social causes, but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations."

The other global threat to peace, stated the papal message, is the contradiction posed by "those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries."

No victors

"In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims," the Bishop of Rome warns. "The truth of peace requires that all ­- whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms, or those planning to acquire them -­ agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.

"The resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor."

In this sense, the message manifests the "dismay" of the Pope before "the evidence of a continuing growth in military expenditure and the flourishing arms trade, while the political and juridical process established by the international community for promoting disarmament is bogged down in general indifference."

The Holy Father's profound wish is that "the international community will find the wisdom and courage to take up once more, jointly and with renewed conviction, the process of disarmament, and thus concretely ensure the right to peace enjoyed by every individual and every people."