A Christmas message from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

 The Cardinal is broadcasting the following message to Vatican Radio roday Virtually all of us would claim to desire peace in the world. Few, however, would fail to be a little unnerved by the seemingly widespread failure to achieve peace in the world or by the enormous sacrifices that we must all make in the struggle for peace. The Holy Father's message is that peace must be 'founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.' For peace to work on a global scale, it must first work on a personal one. Our own lives, our own families, our own communities must be open to the message of peace before that message can be spread far and wide. In other words, we must be faithful to truth, justice, charity and freedom even if it means making great personal sacrifice. It is easy to lose hope that peace can be achieved. The past year has been punctuated by news of war and violence in many parts of the world and we are used to hearing accounts of terrorist attacks, civil wars and threats of military action. However, we should not forget the progress that has been made over the past year. The moving meeting of world religious leaders in Assisi at the beginning of 2002 is still fresh in my memory. The very idea of over two hundred religious leaders gathering together to pledge their commitment to peace would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago and bears witness to the tireless, unseen work of so many in bringing about mutual understanding and respect between the religions of the world. Alongside this, our prayers for 'world peace' every Sunday at Mass are not exercises in wishful thinking; there is a real hope that peace between religions, nations and cultures can be achieved through the power of prayer and the work of God's people everywhere. As we celebrate the coming of Christ and move into a New Year, we need not so much to 'start again' but to build on the grace that has been shown to us in the past and, through that grace, to open ourselves to the promise of renewal that the unfolding year offers. May God guide and enlighten you this Christmas and in the year to come. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster source: Archbishop's House

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