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Thursday, December 16, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented Pope John Paul II's Message for the 38th World Day of Peace which will be celebrated on January 1, 2005.

  Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi and Msgr. Frank J. Dewane, secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery, also participated in the presentation.

  Cardinal Martino explained that this year the Pope has chosen a verse from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans as a theme for reflection: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The apostle, he said, "invites us to a discernment, both personal and communal, on the crucial questions of evil and its dramatic influence on human lives and admonishes us to take up, with mature responsibility, the good and its diffusion."

  The Message is composed of three parts. In the first section, the cardinal said that "peace is considered in its rapport with moral good. In the second, peace is seen in its rapport with a classic principle of the social doctrine of the Church, the principle of the common good. In the third, peace is treated in its close connection with the use of the goods of the earth and with a very pertinent reference to another great principle of the social doctrine, the universal destination of goods."

  "At the center of the drama of evil there is a protagonist: the human person with his liberty and his sin." In this sense, the Pope indicates that "in order to face the multiple social and political manifestations of evil, modern humanity must treasure the common patrimony of moral values received as a gift from God." John Paul II recalls the appeal he made in 1995 before the General Assembly of the United Nations referring to the "grammar of the universal moral law, the only capable way to unite people among themselves in their diversity of cultures."

  In the Message, the Holy Father condemns the violence that is so rampant in our age and he highlights the "conflicts in Africa, the dangerous situation of Palestine, terrorism which seems to push the whole world towards a future of fear and anxiety, and the Iraqi drama which multiplies uncertainly and insecurity."

  "After calling for everyone's commitment to the common good and, above all, the commitment of public authorities, the Holy Father binds the promotion of the common good to respect for the person and his fundamental rights, as well as to respect for the rights of Nations in a universal perspective, asking for the commencement of real international cooperation." The Pope urges everyone not "to reduce the common good to mere socio-economic well-being. This is possible if the common good remains open to the transcendental dimension."

  Cardinal Martino indicated that the third part of the Message is dedicated to the use of the goods of the earth which the Holy Father considers in the context of the social doctrine of the universal destination of these same goods. The principles of the universal destination of the goods of the earth and world citizenship "constitute two beacons capable of illuminating political choices of the international community for the promotion of the development of peoples from an ethical and cultural perspective cast towards an integral and solidary development of humanity."

  In this ethical-cultural context, Cardinal Martino continued, the Pope confronts some very urgent questions. Their "solution is generally bound to the affirmation of the right to peace and the right to development," he said.  The first question regards "the use and destination of those new goods which are the fruit of scientific knowledge and technological progress."  The second one, he added, refers to the "public goods, goods which all citizens enjoy automatically without having made precise choices and which are however expressions of common interests."  The third question is "the fight against poverty, which remains the principle objective of the action of the International Community at the outset of this Millennium."

  In order to deal with poverty, John Paul II indicates that the first priority is to resolve the issue of the foreign debt of poor countries. In addition, he adds, "a renewed international commitment in financing for development" is necessary through "a new impulse" to public aid development.

  Cardinal Martino said that, at the center of the fight against poverty, the Holy Father places the African continent, which is "blocked in its development by many difficult problems; armed conflicts, pandemic diseases, conditions of misery, political instability and social insecurity." The solution to these problems lies in "respect for the promises related to official development assistance, a substantial alleviating of the weight of international debt, the opening of markets and an increase in commercial exchange."

  The cardinal concluded by saying: "In the face of terrible scenarios drawn from the presence of evil, the Holy Father invites everyone to raise their eyes to God who, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has rendered possible for all the victory of good over evil."
OP/MESSAGE WORLD PEACE DAY/MARTINO               VIS 20041216 (860)

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