The Holy Father highlighted this challenge today, when he received the credential letters of the new Ambassadors to the Vatican from Byelorussia, Niger, Sweden, Thailand, Benin, Sudan, Iceland, and Jordan.
"Peace must be the first priority for all countries and in all continents so that armed conflicts will cease, which claim the future of nations and peoples, some of whom are subjected to degrading and unworthy conditions of life," the Pope said.
John Paul II illustrated the two challenges on the world scene: "dialogue and negotiations among protagonists, called to live together on the same earth" and "the phenomenon of globalization and the growing opposition between rich and poor nations, which creates increasingly great disparities."
"Peace implies in the long run that the less advanced countries benefit from economic growth and adequate aid," the Pope stressed in his meeting with the diplomats.
In this context, John Paul II continued, "the first perspective must be to support local economies and form persons to take the reins of the future and of their national community so that they can attain the necessary autonomy of the country."
"This requires increasingly greater solidarity and consistent behavior on the part of all," the Pope emphasized.
The Holy Father said that "countries, whose soil and sub-soil contain abundant wealth and many prime materials are subject to pressures that impede whole parts of the population from reaping any benefits."
"In order for changes to take place at the international level, it is necessary that each one change his way of living," the Pope stressed.
This is why, John Paul added, "I make a heartfelt appeal to all men of good will for a thrust towards solidarity and fraternal charity."
"Peace goes hand in hand with the eradication of poverty, the suppression of disparities among peoples. At the same time, it implies education for all," the Holy Father said.
The Pope concluded by assuring the world community that the Catholic Church in the different countries "is committed to respect the dignity of persons and the recognition of peoples, seeking through all peaceful means to establish peace and understanding among nations, as well as fraternity among all."