Notable quotations from Pope John Paul II and official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
Almost forty years ago,... Pope John XXIII published his epic Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris... [He] summed up his message of "peace on earth" in the first sentence...: "Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established and sustained only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed."
John XXIII identified the essential conditions for peace in four precise requirements of the human spirit: truth, justice, love and freedom...
Truth will build peace if every individual sincerely acknowledges not only his rights, but also his duties towards others. Justice will build peace if in practice everyone respects the rights of others and actually fulfills his duties towards them.
Love will build peace if people feel the needs of others as their own and share what they have with others, especially the values of mind and spirit which they possess. Freedom will build peace and make it thrive if, in the choice of the means to that end, people act according to reason and assume responsibility for their own actions.
The road to peace ... lay in the defense and promotion of basic human rights, which every human being enjoys, not as a benefit given by a different social class or conceded by the Sate but simply because of our humanity.
There is an unbreakable bond between the work of peace and respect for truth. Honesty in the supply of information, equity in legal systems, openness in democratic procedures give citizens a sense of security, a readiness to settle controversies by peaceful means, and a desire for genuine and constructive dialogue, all of which constitute the true premises of a lasting peace.
Peace is not essentially about structures but about people... Gestures of peace spring from the lives of people who foster peace first of all in their own hearts. They are the work of the heart and of reason in those who are peacemakers (cf. Mt 5:9). Gestures of peace are possible when people appreciate fully the community dimension of their lives... Gestures of peace create a tradition and a culture of peace.
Religion has a vital role in fostering gestures of peace and in consolidating conditions for peace. It exercises this role all the more effectively if it concentrates on what is proper to it: attention to God, the fostering of universal brotherhood, and the spreading of a culture of human solidarity.
(Source: Message for World Day of Peace, issued December 8, 2002)
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com