January 15, 2001
volume 12, no. 15
Pope warns of unlivable world if man is not respected as Holy Father expresses profound concern to Vatican Diplomatic Corps

John Paul Views the State of Peace in the World Pope Calls for Renewal of Dialogue in Holy Land

    VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2001 ( - The Popeís greatest concern, at the beginning of the new millennium, is that man has become an object that can be bought, sold or manipulated.

    John Paul II stressed this point Saturday, when he met with 175 diplomats accredited to the Vatican, on the occasion of the traditional New Yearís audience.

    "When we think of the century just ended, one thing is clear," the Pope said. "History will judge it to be the century that saw the greatest conquests of science and technology, but also as the time when human life was despised in the cruelest ways."

    The Holy Father was referring especially "to the murderous wars that burgeoned in Europe, and to the forms of totalitarianism that enslaved millions of men and women, but I am also referring to laws that legalized abortion and euthanasia, and to cultural models that have spread the idea of consumption and pleasure at any price."

    "If people upset the balance of creation, forgetting that they are responsible for their brothers and sisters, and do not care for the environment that the Creator has placed in their hands, then a world determined by our designs alone could well become unlivable," the Pontiff warned.

    However, "what do we have more deeply in common than our human nature?" the Pope asked.

    "Yes, at the dawn of this millennium, let us save man!" he exhorted. "Let us together, all of us, save humanity! It is up to the leaders of societies to safeguard the human race, ensuring that science is at the service of the human person, that people are never objects to be manipulated or to be bought and sold, that laws are never determined by commercial interests or by the selfish claims of minority groups."

    "Every age of human history has seen humanity tempted to inhabit a self-enclosed world in an attitude of self-sufficiency, domination, power and pride," the Holy Father concluded. "However, in our own time, this danger has become still greater in manís heart, as people believe that through the efforts of science they can become the masters of nature and history."

    John Paul II exhorted diplomats at the Vatican not to lose hope in building a world of peace. He asked: "What is a happy New Year for a diplomat?"

    "The world scene in this month of January 2001 could cause one to doubt the capacity of diplomacy to bring about the rule of order, equity and peace among peoples," the Pope said.

    Yet, he added, we should "not resign ourselves to the inevitability of sickness, poverty, injustice or war. It is certain that without social solidarity or recourse to law and the instruments of diplomacy, these terrible situations would be even more dramatic and could become insoluble." He thanked the diplomats for their "activity and persevering efforts to promote understanding and cooperation among peoples."

    The Pope analyzed the state of peace in the world, in light of Bethlehemís message of peace. He began with the conflict in the Middle East, which cast a shadow on Christmas in the Holy Land.

    "In this part of the world which received Godís revelation to man," John Paul said, "there should be no resignation before the fact that a kind of guerrilla warfare has become an everyday event, or in the face of the persistence of injustice, the contempt for international law, or the marginalization of the holy places and the requirements of the Christian communities.

    "Israelis and Palestinians can only think of their future together, and each party must respect the rights and traditions of the other. It is time to return to the principles of international legality: the banning of the acquisition of territory by force, the right of peoples to self-determination, respect for the resolutions of the United Nations organization and the Geneva Conventions, to quote only the most important. Otherwise, anything can happen: from unilateral rash initiatives to an extension of violence that will be difficult to control."

    The Holy Father then referred to Africaís forgotten wars, "a continent where too many weapons are circulating and where too many countries suffer from unstable democracy and devastating corruption, where the drama of Algeria and the war in southern Sudan are still mercilessly slaughtering people."

    He added: "Nor can we forget the chaos into which the countries of the Great Lakes region have been plunged. That is why the peace agreement arrived at last month in Algiers between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a cause for satisfaction, as are the promising attempts to lead Somalia gradually back to normality."

    In analyzing the situation in Europe, the Pope said: "I must mention -- and with such a sense of sadness! -- the murderous terrorist attacks in Spain, which sully the nation and humiliate the whole of Europe as it searches for its identity. Many people still look to Europe as a model from which to draw inspiration. May Europe never forget the Christian roots that allowed its humanism to bear much fruit! May Europe also be generous toward those -- individuals and peoples -- who come knocking at its door!"

    According to Peterís successor, "Egoism and the will to power are humanityís worst enemies. In some way, they are at the root of every conflict. This is especially evident in certain parts of South America, where socioeconomic and cultural differences, armed violence or guerrilla warfare, and the turning back of democratic gains damage the social fabric and cause entire populations to lose confidence in the future."

    John Paul II exhorted: "This immense continent must be helped to bring all its human and material heritage to fruition."

    However, distrust "and the vestiges of past crises can always be overcome through good will and international solidarity. Asia has shown that this is so, with the dialogue between the two Koreas and with East Timorís progress toward independence."

    The Holy Father ended his analysis of the fragile state of peace by offering "another approach" as a solution. "I would formulate it in words that may seem too simple: Every man is my brother!" he said. "If we were convinced that we are called to live together, that it is wonderful to come to know one another, to respect and help one another, the world would be radically different." ZE01011408 and ZE01011409.

For other news stories, see

January 15, 2001
volume 12, no. 15
News from Rome

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