In his Christmas message Pope Paul admits that many people think peace is a cliché or an illusion. He says people now accept a "crude and re-emerging realism" which imagines that men are doomed to a "destiny of fraternal strife."
In his annual appeal for peace Pope Paul sees the present time as destroying the ideal of peace "marked as it is by fierce outbreaks of international conflict, by implacable class warfare, outbursts of revolutionary freedoms, the crushing of human rights' and fundamental liberties and by the unforeseen symptoms of worldwide economic instability."
Against this view, the Pope reaffirms his message of last year: "Peace is possible." He faces the objection that "organised society cannot do without force," and tries to clarify a possible misunderstanding: "the confusion of peace with weakness (not just physical but also moral), with the renunciation of genuine right and equitable justice. with the evasion of risk and sacrifice, with cowardly and supine submission to arrogance, and hence with acquiescence to enslavement."
He proclaims: "Repression is not peace, cowardice is not peace" and states: "True peace must be based on a sense of the untouchable dignity of the human person."
"Peace," says Pope Paul, "can also lead to serious sacrifices: in the struggle For prestige, in the arms race, in overlooking insults and in cancelling debts. Peace is not just an urge to live the quiet life — it will never betray the higher values of life in order to survive."
Men must work to produce peace. Peace must take hold of the human conscience as a
supreme ethical objective, as a moral necessity. It is above all "an idea" which is "essentially natural, necessary, obligatory and therefore possible." Peace must prevail even though "ever more catastrophic and abhorrent conflicts" are being prepared.
Why? Firstly, because the idea of peace is already victorious in the thought of all men in posts of responsibility. No head of a nation can today wish for war. Secondly, because ideas rule the world and the thought of peace "in practice rules the peoples . . . and it is the peoples (that is, active public opinion) that rule the rulers. Thirdly, the Pope stresses the effect that individuals can have on public opinion. "Peace lives by the support, although individual and anonymous, that people give it." The final part of the Pope's message is to "brothers and sisters in faith and charity" to fellow Christians. He calls for cooperation with those who promote peace. He asks Christians to preach peace and to be teachers of peace "by word and example."
"Can we not perhaps, reinforce our prayer for peace with that humble and loving.power which the divine mercy does not resist." He concludes: "Peace is possible, and furthermore it depends, through Christ our peace, on us."
(The full text of the Pope's message is on Page 7:)