VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II emphasized the need to educate future generations in “true peace,” when he met with university students from some 30 countries.
The 3,000 or so students who heard the Pope in Paul VI Hall today are in Rome for the UNIV congress, dedicated this year to the theme “Building Peace in the 21st Century.”
The topic “is more timely than ever in these months in which we are so worried about the situation in Iraq, as well as so many violent and war-ridden situations which have erupted on other continents,” the Holy Father said. “All this makes a true education in peace that much more urgent.”
The Pontiff’s address was a synthesis of the foundations of peace, which calls believers to “prayer,” because “peace is a gift of love from God.”
He then referred to the four pillars of peace, mentioned 40 years ago by Pope John XXIII in his encyclical “Pacem in Terris”: “truth, justice, love and liberty.”
Explaining the first pillar, John Paul II exhorted his young audience to “have courage to ask yourselves sincere questions on the meaning of truth; form yourselves with a clear rectitude of thought and action, of respect and dialogue with others.”
Above all, he told his listeners, maintain “an authentic relationship with God, which requires personal conversion and an openness to his mystery.”
The second pillar is justice, the Pope continued, “connected to truth, as well as to respect of the dignity of each person.”
Of the third pillar, John Paul II said: “We know, however, that without sincere love and disinterest, justice cannot assure peace for the world. True peace blooms when hatred, rancor and envy are vanquished in our hearts; when we say no to selfishness and to everything that causes man to retreat within himself and to defend his own interest.”
“If love, which is the distinct sign of Christ’s disciples, is translated into gestures of free and disinterested service, into words of understanding and forgiveness, the peaceful wave of love will grow and extend even to attract the entire human community,” he added.
Lastly, when describing “liberty,” the fourth pillar of peace, the Holy Father said that it is “the recognition of the rights of individuals and peoples and the free gift of self in the responsible fulfillment of the duties that correspond to all in their state of life.”
By living these four pillars, it is possible “to offer an effective contribution to the construction of a peaceful and reconciling world,” the Pope said.
The UNIV University congress has been held annually in Rome since 1968, with the assistance of Opus Dei. It is organized by the Istituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria, an Italian organization that promotes cooperative initiatives for development in numerous countries.