Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
Pope backs anti-war protests
Demonstrations show much of humanity rejects war, he says
By JOHN NORTON
Catholic News Service
Pope John Paul said the worldwide peace protests against the Iraqi war showed that a large part of humanity rejects war as a means to resolve conflicts between countries.
In a March 25 message to military chaplains attending a Vatican-sponsored course, he said the world was facing a "difficult hour of history" in which it was "listening again to the rumble of arms."
"Thinking of the victims, the destruction and the sufferings provoked by armed conflicts always causes profound worries and great pain," he said.
But by now, he said, "it should be clear to everyone" that "a large part of humanity" has rejected the use of war - except in legitimate self-defence - as a means to resolve conflicts between countries.
"The vast contemporary movement for peace - which the Second Vatican Council teaches is not just the 'simple absence of war' - demonstrates this conviction of people on every continent and of every culture," he said.
The pope said Christian military chaplains had the duty to show that even "in the midst of the harshest fighting" it was possible and necessary to respect the dignity of military adversaries and civilian victims.
"Precisely when weapons are unleashed, the need for rules aimed at making warfare less inhuman is imperative," he said.
Protecting the dignity of all involved in armed conflicts also helps promote "the reconciliation necessary once peace returns after the conflict," the pope said.
Military chaplains, beyond their strictly religious role, must help educate soldiers in the ethical values that underlie humanitarian law, he said.
More than 40 top Catholic military chaplains from around the world were meeting at the Vatican March 25-26 for an unprecedented Church course on humanitarian law. Nearly all of the Catholic Church's 37 military dioceses or ordinariates, including the U.S. archdiocese, were represented.