John Paul II Tells of the 4 Pillars of Peace

In His Message for the World Day of Peace 2003

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In his Message for the World Day of Peace, John Paul II says peace calls for four essential conditions: truth, justice, love and freedom.



The Pope proposes these "pillars" of peace inspired by Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical "Pacem in Terris," written in an era when the world faced nuclear conflict over the Cuban missile crisis.

Indeed, the motto chosen by John Paul II for the forthcoming World Day of Peace on Jan. 1 is "'Pacem in Terris': A Permanent Task."

He requests ecclesial communities to celebrate this anniversary during the year 2003 "with initiatives that, I hope, will have an ecumenical and interreligious character and be open to all those who have a heartfelt desire 'to break through the barriers that divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong.'"

Recalling the thought of his predecessor John XXIII, the Holy Father explains that truth "will build peace if every individual sincerely acknowledges not only his rights, but also his own duties toward others."

"Justice will build peace if in practice everyone respects the rights of others and actually fulfills his duties toward them," he added in the message published today by the Vatican Press Office.

"Love will build peace if people feel the needs of others as their own and share what they have with others, especially the values of mind and spirit that they possess," the papal message continues.

Lastly, freedom "will build peace and make it thrive if, in the choice of the means to that end, people act according to reason and assume responsibility for their own actions," John Paul II says, referring to the 1963 encyclical addressed to all people of "good will."

The Pope says that peace lies "in the defense and promotion of basic human rights, which every human being enjoys, not as a benefit given by a different social class or conceded by the state, but simply because of our humanity."

These are not "simply abstract ideas," John Paul II continues. Following the publication of "Pacem in Terris," he observes, "human rights movements soon arose and gave concrete political expression to one of the great dynamics of contemporary history: the quest for freedom as an indispensable component of work for peace."

"Emerging in virtually every part of the world, these movements were instrumental in replacing dictatorial forms of government with more democratic and participatory ones. They demonstrated in practice that peace and progress could only be achieved by respecting the universal moral law written on the human heart," he says.

"At the beginning of a new year in our human history, this is the hope that rises spontaneously from the depths of my heart: that in the spirit of every individual there may be a renewed dedication to the noble mission that 'Pacem in Terris' proposed 40 years ago to all men and women of good will," John Paul II says.

"The task, which the encyclical called 'immense,' is that 'of establishing new relationships in human society, under the sway and guidance of truth, justice, love and freedom.'"

However, the Holy Father points out that it is not just a question of heads of state. He is referring to "relations between individual citizens, between citizens and their respective states, between states, and finally between individuals, families, intermediate associations and states on the one hand, and the world community on the other."

The Pope concludes by saying that "to bring about true peace in accordance with divinely established order" is a "most noble task."