Pope appeals for true peace - with justice and forgiveness

 Pope John Paul II has made a personal and passionate appeal for true peace in the world, in his message for World Peace Day, 1 January 2002. Reflecting on the events since 11 September, the Pope calls for justice and forgiveness, "no matter how difficult this may be". He says: "true peace is made possible only through forgiveness". The Pope strongly condemns terrorism, and says that perpetrators must be identified. While pointing out that injustices in the world can never be an excuse for violence, he says: "International cooperation in the fight against terrorist activities must also include a courageous and resolute political, diplomatic and economic commitment to relieving situations of oppression and marginalisation which facilitate the designs of terrorists. The recruitment of terrorists in fact is easier in situations where rights are trampled upon and injustices tolerated over a long period of time." The Pope calls on religious leaders to take the lead in publicly condemning terrorism to deny terrorists any form of religious or moral legitimacy, and he repeats his invitation to world religious leaders to join him in Assisi on 24 January to pray for peace. "To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against human dignity, and ultimately an offence against God." he says. Of the continuing conflict in the Holy Land, the Pope makes a heartfelt plea for the people there to work urgently for a just and peaceful solution. The Pope implores renewed prayer for peace. He says: "To pray for peace is to open the human heart to the inroads of God's power to renew all things. With the life-giving force of his grace, God can create openings for peace where only obstacles and closures are apparent; he can strengthen and enlarge the solidarity of the human family in spite of our endless history of division and conflict."

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