Pope welcomes Euro - expresses concern over world conflicts

 In his annual address to the Vatican City State Diplomatic Corps yesterday, Pope John Paul II pointed out that "the light of Christmas ... ensures that indifference, injustice and hatred will never have the last word". He welcomed "the progressive unification of Europe, recently symbolised by the adoption of a single currency by twelve countries", and other developments in Cyprus and Kosovo. But he said he was "tragically aware" of the "violence, suffering and sin" in the world, and saddened by the situation in the Holy Land, "a land of fire and blood". "Only .. the application of international law [and] the evacuation of the occupied territories" can bring peace to that region of the Middle East. Discussing "the legitimate fight against terrorism", the Pope reminded the world that "killing in the name of God is an act of blasphemy and a perversion of religion". He also reminded the diplomatic corps that areas of conflict are worldwide - in Africa and Latin America as well as in the Middle East and southern Asia. He said, there was, however, a spiritual "advantage" to "the troubled situation of this world of ours .... it makes us squarely face our responsibilities". Recent events have encouraged us to "ask the real questions: the truth about God and the truth about man". The Pope said the challenges for the world community for the coming year include the defence of life and promotion of the family, the elimination of poverty, human rights, disarmament, and "the rigorous application of international law and conventions". "If these priorities became the central concerns ... the world would be a radically different place." The full text of the Pope's address to the Diplomatic Corps can be found on the Catholic Media Office website at: www.catholic-ew.org.uk/CN/02/020110.htm