Page 1, 31st December 1982

31st December 1982
Page 1
Page 1, 31st December 1982 — A crucial mainstay for peace

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Locations: Coventry, City


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A crucial mainstay for peace

By Christopher Howse THE POPE makes a clear reference to the breakdown of social order in Poland in his New Year Peace Day message calling for dialogue.

"When, unfortunately, dialogue between government and people is absent, social peace is threatened or absent; it is like a state of war," Pope John Paul says. In Poland, the martial law which was recently suspended was known by the Polish equivalent of "state of war".

The message is published to mark World Day of Peace tomorrow. But in England Peace Day is kept on the last Sunday of the month, January 30.

The Pope takes dialogue, by which he means not only exchange of information but also co-operation, as a necessary and possible prerequisite for national and international peace.

This view of peace embraces political life, which should be democratic. "The

common effort for peace must be made ceaselessly, in the exercise of freedoms and duties which are democratic for all, thanks to the structures of participation and thanks to the many means of reconciliation between employers and workers, in the manner of respecting and associating the cultural, ethnic and religious groups which make up a nation."

The Pope seems to be projecting an image of the City of God on to the City of Man. He has no illusions about the true state of the world. But he does presuppose in his Peace Day message a knowledge of the principles outlined in his encyclicals, particularly Laborem Exercens, which covered the whole world of work.

It seems unlikely that many of the world leaders, ambassadors and moulders of the media to whom the Pope later appeals in his latest message will in fact have absorbed this philosophy.

Towards the end of the 17-page message, the Pope conjures up once more his apocalyptic vision of the world's headlong career to a nuclear disaster.

To avoid this, he pleads for disarmaments talks.

He says: "Obviously the object of international dialogue will also concern itself with the dengerous arms race in such a way as to reduce it progressively, as I suggested in the message I sent to the I United Nations Organisation last June, and in conformity with the message that the learned members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences took on my behalf to the leaders of the nuclear powers.

"Instead of being at the service of people, the economy is becoming militarised. Development and well-being are subordinated to security. Science and Technology are being degraded into the auxiliaries of war. The Holy See will not grow weary in insisting upon the

need to put a stop to the arms race through progressive negotiations, by appealing for a reciprocity. The Holy See will continue to encourage all steps, even the smallest one, of reasonable dialogue in this very important sphere."

As the Pope said at Coventry, peace needs to be built on foundations of justice, and is not equivalent to an absence of war. "The object of dialogue for peace cannot be reduced to a condemnation of the arms race; it is a question of searching for a whole more just international order, consensus on the more equitable sharing of goods, services, knowledge, information, and a firm determination to order these latter to the common good.

"I know that such a dialogue of which the North-South dialogue forms a part, is very complex; it must be resolutely pursued, in order to prepare the conditions for true peace as we approach the third millennium.

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