VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II sent a letter today to all heads of state and government, to present the “Assisi Decalogue for Peace.”
The letter was dated Feb. 24, a month after the Jan. 24 meeting held in Assisi. In the note, John Paul II says “the participants in the Assisi meeting were more committed than ever to a common conviction: Humanity must choose between love and hatred.”
Here is a translation of the French text of the papal letter, and the official English version of the “Assisi Decalogue for Peace.”
* * *
To Their Excellencies
the Heads of State and Government
The Day of Prayer for Peace in the World took place in Assisi exactly one month ago. My thoughts turn spontaneously today to those responsible for the social and political life of the countries that were represented there by the religious leaders of numerous nations.
The inspired addresses of those men and women, representatives of the different religious confessions, as well as their sincere desire to work for concord, the common search for authentic progress and peace in the heart of the whole human family, found both their high and concrete expression in a “decalogue” proclaimed at the conclusion of this exceptional day.
I have the honor to send the text of this joint commitment to Your Excellency, convinced that these ten propositions will be able to inspire the political and social action of your government. I was able to witness that the participants in the Assisi meeting were more committed than ever to a common conviction: Humanity must choose between love and hatred. And, in feeling themselves all members of the same human family, they were able to express this aspiration through this decalogue, persuaded that if hatred destroys, love, on the contrary, builds.
I hope that the spirit and commitment of Assisi will lead all men of good will to the search for truth, justice, liberty, love so that every human person will be able to enjoy his/her inalienable rights, and every nation, peace. For its part, the Catholic Church, which places its confidence and hope in “the God of love and peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11), will continue to be committed so that loyal dialogue, reciprocal forgiveness and mutual concord will guide the course of men in this third millennium.
Thanking Your Excellency for your attention to my message, I take advantage of the occasion thus offered to me to assure you of my highest regard.
From the Vatican, February 24, 2002
IOANNES PAULUS II
[Translation of French original by ZENIT]
— — —
Assisi Decalogue for Peace
1. We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic Spirit of religion, and, as we condemn every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion, we commit ourselves to doing everything possible to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.
2. We commit ourselves to educating people to mutual respect and esteem, in order to help bring about a peaceful and fraternal coexistence between people of different ethnic groups, cultures, and religions.
3. We commit ourselves to fostering the culture of dialogue, so that there will be an increase of understanding and mutual trust between individuals and among peoples, for these are the premises of authentic peace.
4. We commit ourselves to defending the right of everyone to live a decent life in accordance with their own cultural identity, and to form freely a family of their own.
5. We commit ourselves to frank and patient dialogue, refusing to consider our differences as an insurmountable barrier, but recognizing instead that to encounter the diversity of others can become an opportunity for greater reciprocal understanding.
6. We commit ourselves to forgiving one another for past and present errors and prejudices, and to supporting one another in a common effort both to overcome selfishness and arrogance, hatred and violence, and to learn from the past that peace without justice is no true peace.
7. We commit ourselves to taking the side of the poor and the helpless, to speaking out for those who have no voice and to working effectively to change these situations, out of the conviction that no one can be happy alone.
8. We commit ourselves to taking up the cry of those who refuse to be resigned to violence and evil, and we desire to make every effort possible to offer the men and women of our time real hope for justice and peace.
9. We commit ourselves to encouraging all efforts to promote friendship between peoples, for we are convinced that, in the absence of solidarity and understanding between peoples, technological progress exposes the word to a growing risk of destruction and death.
10. We commit ourselves to urging the leaders of nations to make every effort to create and consolidate, on the national and international levels, a world of solidarity and peace based on justice.