VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Following is a translation of John Paul II´s address at midday today, from his study window in the Vatican, before reciting the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square. He gave the address in Italian.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I am still feeling very intensely the emotion I experienced last Thursday on the Day of Prayer for Peace: “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love!” This is the solemn appeal that, together with the leaders of various religions, I addressed to the men of our time, forcefully rejecting the temptation to resolve humanity´s grave problems with the use of arms and violence. Thus, we have achieved a milestone on the way to building a civilization of peace and love.
Once again, today I would like to thank the religious leaders who responded to my invitation. Together we reaffirmed in Assisi that the task of religions consists in fostering peaceful coexistence among peoples and cultures, in reciprocal respect. At the same time, I express my heartfelt gratitude to the immense body of believers, to the innumerable individuals all over the world who accompanied us with their spiritual support; as well as to all those who, although distanced from religion, have shared the “spirit” of this singular Day and are willing to commit themselves to the defense and promotion of authentic human values.
2. I greet young people especially who, with their typical enthusiasm, brightened up St. Francis´ city on the occasion of this meeting. The future of the world has been entrusted to them, the new generations.
Because of this, I am very happy that, days after the Assisi meeting, the young men of Catholic Action of Rome have come to St. Peter´s Square, accompanied by Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini, to celebrate their “Day of Peace.” In a little while, two of them, who are now beside me, will release two doves in the sky, symbol of peace. It is an important gesture, dedicated to the numerous children who, unfortunately, are still victims of war and grave injustices. May the commitment of all guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of every human being born on the face of the earth.
3. Among the human rights that must be defended and promoted is health care, still absent or very lacking in many areas of the planet. Diseases continue to spread that, in theory, have already been eliminated, such as Hansen´s disease, commonly known as leprosy. The World Day of Solidarity with Leprosy Sufferers, which we celebrate today, contributes to keep the attention of public opinion on all those stricken by this disease, and to encourage efforts to defeat it completely.
May the Holy Virgin, with her maternal protection, encourage our sick brothers. We ask her, Mother of Hope, to make the seeds of hope, sown these days in the hearts of many peoples, germinate. May Mary help us to build an authentic and lasting peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]