Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 27, 2004
Overcome evil with good
Pope's World Day of Peace message says violence is no solution
By CINDY WOODEN
Catholic News Service
Continuing tension and bloodshed in Iraq, the Holy Land and Africa are proof war and retaliation cannot bring peace, Pope John Paul said in his message for Jan. 1, World Peace Day 2005.
"To attain the good of peace there must be a clear and conscious acknowledgment violence is an unacceptable evil and it never solves problems," the pope wrote in his message.
The message, sent to heads of state around the world, was released Dec. 16. The theme of the 2005 message was: Do Not Be Overcome by Evil, but Overcome Evil With Good.
In his message, Pope John Paul wrote, "Peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good."
Violent conflicts around the world and the tremendous suffering and injustice that accompany them are proof that "the only true constructive choice is, as St. Paul proposes, to flee what is evil and hold fast to what is good."
"The evils of a social and political nature which afflict the world, particularly those provoked by outbreaks of violence, are to be vigorously condemned," he said.
The pope specifically mentioned Africa, "where conflicts which have already claimed millions of victims are still continuing," and the Holy Land, "where the fabric of mutual understanding, torn by a conflict which is fed daily by acts of violence and reprisal, cannot yet be mended in justice and truth."
He also condemned the continuing spread of terrorist violence, which "appears to be driving the whole world toward a future of fear and anguish."
"Finally," he wrote, "how can we not think with profound regret of the drama unfolding in Iraq, which has given rise to tragic situations of uncertainty and insecurity for all?"
At a Vatican press conference, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the pope listed Africa first, using "solemn language that reveals the moral knowledge that (the continent's problems) involve crucial historic questions for the future of humanity."
"Africa is the biggest problem facing humanity," the cardinal said. "The problems of Africa are not the fault just of Africans. How many peoples and nations must look at their consciences and recognize their responsibility" as a result of colonization or economic and political exploitation?
Every person in the world has a role to play in fostering peace and justice, the pope said.
"Evil is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world," he said. "Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it."
The first step toward reversing the trend to violence, the pope said, is to preserve and promote the basic moral values common to all peoples and cultures.
Next, he said, each person must recognize that being a citizen of the world carries with it the responsibility to work for the common good, a responsibility that is even more pronounced for politicians and leaders of nations.
An essential part of promoting peace is ensuring that every person is given a share in the goods of the earth, making it possible for them to feed and house their families and have hope for the future, the pope said.
"The condemnation of racism, the protection of minors, the provision of aid to displaced persons and refugees, and the mobilization of international solidarity toward all the needy are nothing other than consistent applications of the principle of world citizenship," the pope wrote.
Martino said the pope's recognition of a "world citizenship" marked the first time that the concept appeared in an authoritative document related to Catholic social teaching.
Martino said, like the Old Testament prophets, the pope is heard by people, but often they really do not listen.
"It is the obligation of the pope, every bishop and every priest to educate consciences, to try to convince people to do good rather than evil,"Martino said. "If someone then goes out and sins, whose fault is it?
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.