Pope demands universal peace and solidarity
by Kasia Giedroyc POPE JOHN Paul has made a passionate appeal to all people to put aside hostilities and turn the tensions of North and South, East and West into new relationships Of social solidarity and dialogue.
In a special New Year message to mark the beginning of the International Year of Peace, the Pope urged politicians and statesmen "to give the leadership that will incite people to renewed effort" in making the relationships of' North-South and East-West the basis of a peace that is universal.
He begged businessmen "to examine anew your responsibilities towards all your brothers and sisters"; military !strategists, officers, scientists and technologists "to use your expertise in ways that promote dialogue and understanding"; the suffering and the handicapped "to offer your prayers and your lives in order to break down the barriers that divide the world"; and all who believe in God "to live your lives in the awareness of being one family under the fatherhood of God".
The Pope offered his profound conviction: "Peace is a value with no frontiers" as a message of hope for everyone.
He emphasised that there can only be one peace, based on social justice and the dignity and rights of every human person. But the task of constructing such a peace required a radical openness to all humanity and a conviction of the interrelatedness of all the nations of the world.
"This interrelatedness is expressed in an interdependence that can prove either profoundly advantageous or profoundly destructive," the Pope added.
Pope John Paul's message for the 19th World Day of Peace, which will be read in Catholic churches around the globe, outlined many of the threats to peace as well as methods for overcoming t he situation.
The Pope spoke of blocs that are formed when opposed political, ideological and economic groups are blinded by excessive self-interest. These blocs divide and oppose peoples, making peace precarious and setting up grave obstacles to development. "Positions harden and the excessive desire to maintain one's advantages or to increase one's advantage or to increase one's share often becomes the overriding rationale for action . . . In such a situation, it is the small and the weak, the Poor and the voiceless who suffer most".
Other threats to peace were the spectre of nuclear weapons, the increasing sale of arms, underdevelopment — "the social and economic abyss that separates rich from poor", and the unpredictable and fluctuating financial situation with its direct impact on countries with large debts struggling to achieve some positive development.
"In this situation peace as a universal value is in great danger," warned the Pope. "Even if there is no actual armed conflict as such, where injustice exists, it is in fact a cause and potential factor of conflict."
Pope John Paul said that it was possible, indeed necessary, to set up new types of society and of international relations which will ensure justice and peace on stable and universal foundations. But these could be simply imposed from outside since the deepset roots of the
tensions that mutilate peace and development are to be found in the heart of men. "It is above all the hearts and the attitudes of people that must he changed, and this needs a renewal, a conversion of individuals."
But this was no noble appeal. meant for a few idealists; it was a condition for survival of life itself. "'Together with and above the particular common good of a nation, the need to consider; the common good of the entire family of nations is quite clearly an ethical and juridical duty."
The way forward to a world community in which justice and peace will reign, said the Pope, "is the path of solidarity, dialogue and universal brotherhood.
"Today this dialogue is needed more than ever. Left to themselves, weapons and weapon systems, military strategies and alliances become the instruments of intimidation, mutual recrimination and the consequent dread that affects so much of the human race today. Dialogue considers these instruments in their relationship to human life.
"The path of dialogue is a path of discoveries, and the more we discover one another, the more we can replace the tensions of the past with bonds of peace."
But the tension born of the blocs, added the Pope, will be successfully replaced by solidarity and dialogue only when we learn to insist on the primacy of the human. person.
And fortified by Christ's redeeming grace, Christians, he said, must "go beyond the barriers of ideologies and systems, in order to enter into dialogue with all people of good will, and create new relationships and new forms of solidarity."