In view of the third anniversary of September 11, 2001, Pope John Paul II strongly affirmed in a message to the participants of an inter-religious summit held in Milan from September 5-7, that conflicts and violence are not “an inevitable outcome of history” and that “peace is always possible,” even though much work and cooperation is needed to deal with the roots of violence.
The Holy Father remembered the World Day of Prayer for Peace which took place in Assisi in 1986 and brought together representatives from all religions in the world to pray together for peace in the world, and noted with joy that “the spirit of Assisi” lives on and continues to grow in numbers of participants.
The Pope recalls that in their 1993 meeting in Milan, religious leaders made an appeal to the world: "No hatred, no conflict, no war should find its incentive in religion. War cannot be motivated by religions. May words from religions always be words of peace!"
He said that over the years many people have been inspired by this call, but added that "unfortunately new conflicts have arisen, in fact, there is a widespread mentality for which conflicts among religious worlds and civilizations are considered almost an inevitable outcome of history."
"This is not the case! Peace is always possible!" But there must always be cooperation to uproot from cultures and lives the seeds of bitterness and misunderstanding, the will to prevail over one's neighbor, the arrogance of self interest and disdain for the other's identity. ... Conflict is never inevitable! And religions have a special duty to remind all men and women of this awareness. .... This is what I would call 'the spirit of Assisi'. Our world needs this spirit."
Remarking on the events of September 11 he wrote: "In a few days we will remember that terrible September 11, 2001 that brought death to the heart of the United States. Three years have passed since that day but unfortunately, terrorism seems to increase its threats of destruction.
In terms of dealing with terrorism, the Pope said that “there is no doubt that this calls for firmness and decision in fighting the workers of death. At the same time everything possible must be done to uproot the causes of terror: especially misery, desperation and the emptiness in hearts."
"The world needs peace. Every day we hear news of violence, terrorist attacks, military operations. Is the world abandoning the hope of achieving peace?"
John Paul II asks everyone "not to give in to the logic of violence, vendettas and hatred, but rather to persevere in dialogue. The mortal chain that imprisons and bloodies so much of the world must be broken. Believers of all religions can do much to put an end to this."
"Violence begets violence," the Pope concludes. "War must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and of humanity. May men soon make a spiritual and cultural leap forward to outlaw war! Yes, never again war!"