Pacem in terris': a permanent commitment" is the theme of the XXXVI World Peace Day yesterday. During his homily at St Peter's Pope John Paul II said that "faced with the events that devastate the planet, it is clear that only God may touch the human soul to the core; only His peace can bring new hope to humanity. For this, He needs to turn His face towards us, bless us, protect us, and give us the gift of peace. Therefore, it is opportune to begin the new year invoking this precious gift from Him. We do this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the 'Prince of Peace'." Speaking about the land of Jesus' birth, the Holy Father exclaimed: "Bethlehem! The Holy Land! The dramatic and enduring tension, this area of the Middle East finds itself in, makes the search for a positive solution to this fratricidal and unreasonable conflict, which has shed blood for too long, more urgent. Cooperation from all those believing in God is necessary, conscious of religious authenticity, far from placing individuals and peoples in conflict among themselves, urging them to build a world of peace together." He concluded saying: "Faced with today's conflicts and the menacing tensions of the moment, once again I invite to prayer, to find the 'peaceful means' of composition inspired by a 'desire for genuine and constructive dialogue', in harmony with the principles of international law." At noon, the Pope came to the window of his office to recite the Angelus to the persons present on Saint Peter's Square, among which the participants in the peace march promoted by the Community of Sant' Egidio. John Paul II began by saying that "the world can only expect salvation from the Lord... supported by this knowledge, the faithful must not lose hope, even when facing multiplying obstacles and attempts on peace." The Holy Father recalled that "almost forty years ago, in a context of serious threats to world security, the Blessed John XXIII published, with great courage, the Encyclical 'Pacem in Terris'. I wish to refer to this significant event in the Message for today's World Day of Peace. Like then, today each is asked to give his contribution to promote and achieve peace, through generous choices of mutual understanding, of reconciliation, of forgiveness and true care for those in need. Genuine 'gestures of peace' are needed in families, in work places, in communities, in all of lay life, in national and international social meetings. Above all, one must never stop praying for peace." He ended by saying: "Once more, we must express the hope that, on the part of those responsible, everything possible may be done to find peaceful solutions to the many tensions in the world, in particular in the Middle East, thus avoiding further suffering to those so deeply tested? Human solidarity and law prevail!" The Pope wished a Happy New Year to all in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. source: Vatican Information Service
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