Monday, April 14, 2008

From the Vatican Information Service...


VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope addressed to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and to participants in a seminar entitled: "Disarmament, development and peace, prospects for integral disarmament", being held in Rome on 11 and 12 April.

"Tension and war exist in various parts of the world", notes the Holy Father in his Message, "and even where the tragedy of war is not present, feelings of fear and insecurity are nonetheless widespread. Furthermore, such phenomena as global terrorism blur the distinction between peace and war, seriously compromising the future hopes of humankind.

"How", he adds, "can we respond to these challenges? How can we recognise the 'signs of the times'? Certainly, joint action on a political, economic and juridical level is needed but, even before that, it is necessary to reflect together on a moral and spiritual level. What is ever more vital is to promote a 'new humanism'".

Benedict XVI highlights how "development cannot be reduced to simple economic growth, it must include the moral and spiritual dimension. A truly integral humanism must, at the same time, also express solidarity".

"True and lasting peace is unimaginable without the development of each person and of all peoples", says the Pope. "Nor is it conceivable to think of reducing arms if first we do not eliminate violence at its roots, if man does not first turn decisively to searching for peace and for what is good and just".

"As long as a risk of hostility exists, the arming of States will remain necessary for reasons of legitimate defence. ... Nonetheless, not all levels of armament are permissible. ... The vast material and human resources used for military expenditure and armaments are, in fact, taken from projects for the development of peoples, especially the poorest and those most in need of help".

In this context, the Pope makes an appeal "for States to reduce military expenditure on arms and to give serious consideration to the idea of creating a global fund for peaceful development projects".

Benedict XVI affirms the need to do everything possible to ensure that "the economy is directed to serving human beings and solidarity, and not just to profit. On a legal plane, States are called to a renewed commitment, especially as regards international agreements on disarmament and arms-control, as well as the ratification and subsequent implementation of previously-adopted instruments such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. ... Finally, every effort must also be made to combat the proliferation of small-calibre arms.

"Nonetheless", the Pope acknowledges, "it will be difficult to find a solution to the various technical problems without man's conversion to good on a cultural, moral and spiritual level".

The Holy Father highlights the "ever greater need for a choral invocation of the culture of peace and for a joint education in peace, especially among the new generations. ... The human right to peace", he writes, "is fundamental and inalienable", and upon it "the exercise of all other rights depends".

Although the current situation in the world could give rise "to a justified sense of discomfort and resignation", the Holy Father points out that "war is never inevitable and peace is always possible. Even more so, it is a duty! The time has come to change the course of history, to rediscover trust, to cultivate dialogue and to nourish solidarity", he says.

"The future of humanity depends upon a commitment on everyone's part. Only by pursuing an integral and solidary humanism, in which disarmament assumes an ethical and spiritual dimension, can humanity progress towards the true and lasting peace for which it longs".

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