by Jonathan Pctre THE WORLD is "imprisoned" in a web of tensions which can only be alleviated by a dramatic change of heart by world leaders. Pope John Paul said in his message for the World Day of Peace this Sunday.
Politicians and those who form public opinion have a particular responsibility to work for peace. "They, more than others, must be convinced that war is in itself irrational and that the ethical principle of the peaceful settlement of conflicts is the only way worthy of man."
In upholding the principle of "legitimate defence", the Pope argued that the risks of nuclear war "must lead to the working out of processes of cooperation and disarmament which will make war in piactice unthinkable."
Pope John Paul argued that the threat of world war springs, not from the ideological opposition of political systems, but from the human heart. "It is a man who kills and not his sword or, in our day, his missiles."
Peace is as fragile today as it ha ,s ever been, and violence and fanatical terrorism continue despite the multiplication, in this century, "of declarations and of courts of appeal." Although the tension between East and West is paramount in most people's minds, a more fundamental tension exists between North and South.
Attacking the arms race, he said: "Numerous countries arc engaged in the painful struggle to overcome hunger, disease and underdevelopment, while the rich countries reinforce their position and the arms race
continues to absorb unjustifiably resources that could be better used."
Humanity's apparent helplessness in the face of all these problems is caused, argued the Pope, by a disordered conscience, a false political system to which one feels bound and unreasonable passion.
"To the extent to which people allow themselves to be seduced by systems that present a global vision of humanity that is exclusive and almost Manichean, to the extent that they make the struggle against others, their elimination or enslavement the condition of progress, they shut themselves up within a war mentality which aggravates tensions and they reach the point of being almost incapable of dialogue."
Over and above ideological
systems, the Pope said, are passions of many kinds. "People can allow themselves to be carried away by a sense of racial supremacy and by hatred of others for this reason, or by jealousy, envy of the land and resources of others, or in a. general way, by the desire for power, pride, by a desire to extend their control over other people whom they despise."
The origin of man's recourse to violence and war comes from his sinful state, from his "blindness of spirit and the disorder of his heart, which invoke the motive of injustice in order to spread or harden tension or conflict."
In order to renew the systems that lead to war, therefore, man must renew his heart. Individuals and nations must first acquire a true "freedom of spirit" in order to re-examine the systems of which they have become part, he said.
This is the duty of everyone.
"The international organisations also have a large role to play in order to make universal solutions prevail, above partisan points of view."
The Pope particularly appealed to the young who "inspire more than others to peace" and to women "in their conviction that real love is the only power which can make the world liveable for everyone."
In his Christmas message the Pope also stressed the theme of peace. He said that the Church must fight the evils of divorce, abortion and contraception in the family while trying to end civil war and build peace between nations.
The Pope was speaking before Christmas to the priests of Rome and the Vatican, including 32 Cardinals.
"We find ourselves today in a situation of dramatic divisions at all levels that makethe more thoughtful people reflect on the future of mankind," he said.