In his Message for World Day of Peace, celebrated each year on January 1st, Pope John Paul II called for a reform of the United Nations in order to prevent the rule of the most powerful.
The message, entitled “An Ever Timely Commitment: Teaching Peace,” was made public on Tuesday by Cardinal Renato R. Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and has been published in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
For the first time the Pontiff addressed the message not only to the “Leaders of the nations”, jurists and teachers of the youth, but also “to you too, men and women tempted to turn to the unacceptable means of terrorism and thus compromise at its root the very cause for which you are fighting!”
According to Cardinal Martino, the Pope considers “the institution of the United Nations one of the most relevant fruits of international law, after the tragedy of World War II, whose objective is ‘the prohibition of resorting to force’ even with two exceptions: ‘the natural law of legitimate defense’ and ‘the system of collective security’.”
“Due recognition to the U.N.,” continued Cardinal Martino, “is accompanied by an invitation to a ‘reform’ of the organization so that it functions more efficiently in pursuit of its own statuary ends which remain valid.”
In fact, in the document, Pope John Paul repeats the words he said in 1995: “The United Nations Organization needs to rise more and more above the cold status of an administrative institution and to become a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations.”
Dealing with terrorism The document acknowledges that “the scourge of terrorism has become more virulent in recent years and has produced brutal massacres.”
“Even so,” he continues, “if it is to be won, the fight against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repressive and punitive operations.”
The Pontiff says that “in the necessary fight against terrorism, international law is now called to develop legal instruments provided with effective means for the prevention, monitoring and suppression of crime. In any event, democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law.”
“International law,” the Pope adds, “must ensure that the law of the more powerful does not prevail. Its essential purpose is to replace ‘the material force of arms with the moral force of law’, providing appropriate sanctions for transgressors and adequate reparation for victims.”
In the document, the Holy Father also stressed the key role of Christian forgiveness and love: “By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love.”
“For this reason I have often reminded Christians and all persons of good will that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples.”
In the message, the Pope also says: “there is no peace without forgiveness! I say it again here, as my thoughts turn in particular to the continuing crisis in Palestine and the Middle East.”
“Christians know that love is the reason for God's entering into relationship with man.” “Love,” the Pope continues, “is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order.”
“Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilization of love’ will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace, the document concludes.”