In his strongest statement since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Pope John Paul II said countries had a right to defend themselves against international terrorists. But he said true peace could not be achieved without justice and that form of love which is forgiveness. In a message for the World Day of Peace, celebrated on Jan. 1, the pope urged Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious leaders to condemn terrorism publicly in order to deny terrorists any form of religious or moral legitimacy. He said the international community must fight terrorism by addressing underlying injustices like poverty, but he called the terrorists’ claim to be acting on behalf of the poor a patent falsehood.
My reasoned conviction, he said, is that the shattered order cannot be fully restored except by a response that combines justice with forgiveness. People often see justice and forgiveness as contradictory, the pope said, but forgiveness is the opposite of resentment and revenge, not of justice. But forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice, as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done, he said. But because human justice is always fragile and imperfect, subject as it is to the limitations and egoism of individuals and groups, it must include and, as it were, be completed by the forgiveness that heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations, he said.Hunger Initiative Brings Together Students, Businesses
The new St. Louis University Campus Kitchen brings together about 100 student volunteers with Sodexho dining services and local nonprofit service organizations to provide more than 500 meals a month to the hungry in St. Louis. St. Louis University was chosen as a national pilot site for the program, which also is designed to develop students as community leaders and provide job training for others in the community. The program will focus on serving families and seniors, including those on Meals on Wheels waiting lists; children in after-school tutoring programs; and families living with H.I.V., said Bernie Schaefer, director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Community Service.Hope, Friendship, Stronger Faith at National Youth Conference
The National Catholic Youth Conference ended much the way it began. After three days of taking part in what organizers said was the largest Catholic youth conference in U.S. history, teenagers were still clapping on Dec. 9 for Jesus, shouting Amen and getting to know one another by celebrating their Catholic identity in Indianapolis. The 26th biennial conference sponsored by the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry drew almost 24,000 teenagers and adult chaperons to Indianapolis on Dec. 6-9 to hear about vocations and how, as the young church, they can be an example of hope. The conference, hosted by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis at the RCA Dome and Indiana Convention Center, also brought 48 bishops from across the nation to celebrate the Catholic faith with the youths and 1,500 volunteers, staff members and exhibitors. The theme was Hope at the Crossroads.
More than 250 Catholic teenagers and 47 U.S. bishops conversed and prayed about vocations during the conference’s Youth Congress on Vocations. Information gathered during the congress will be studied by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, several U.S.C.C.B. national offices and diocesan vocations committees across the country to help plan and implement vocation recruitment efforts.
Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth D. Steiner of Portland, Ore., said it was really exciting to see the faith level of the kids and their enthusiasm. These are real good kids and good leaders. They’re very inspirational. It’s energizing for the bishops to dialogue with the youth and celebrate liturgy together.Pope Links Terrorism to Poverty and Social Structures
Linking terrorist attacks in the United States to social injustices like poverty, Pope John Paul II called for an urgent overhaul in political and economic relations between countries, coupled with radical personal and social renewal. World leaders today must work more than ever and in a more intense waythrough dialogue and international cooperationfor the eradication of all that is a source of conflict and tensions between peoples and nations, the pope told 10 new ambassadors to the Vatican on Dec. 6.
But handling the immediate far-reaching emergency should not distract world leaders from crucial long-term steps to prevent violence, which include disinterested development aid to poor countries and defense of the sacredness of human life, he said. Beyond the terrifying and intolerable unleashing of terrorism that struck the United States of America, the pope said, the [international] situation throws light on the grave tensions that menace the fragile equilibrium between nations, and on the situations of injustice that, being rampant for too long and sparking rancor and hatred, have become the true sources of violence between people.
The gap between rich and poor countries that globalization was threatening to exaggerate demanded a new sort of relationship between nations, one that was marked by selflessness and solidarity, he said. Aid to developing countries, the pope said, is not a matter of dispensing favors but of recognizing the basic human right to a just share of resources.Erosion of Civil Liberties to Fight Terror Called a Faustian Bargain’
A joint reflection issued by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the National Council of Synagogues called the loss of civil liberties to fight terror a Faustian bargain. The reflection said, A general expansion of law enforcement powers beyond those necessary to fight terrorism cannot be justified if such an expansion comes at the expense of core civil liberties principles of privacy, due process and freedom of association. It added, Such a Faustian bargain compromises the very idea of freedom, the idea which our adversaries have attacked, and which we are pledged to defend.Poll Finds Improved View of Muslim-Americans Since Attacks
Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Americans’ opinions of Muslims in this country have improved, even though some believe the terrorist attacks were motivated in part by religion. According to a nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the percentage of people who have a favorable opinion of Muslim-Americans increased from 45 percent in a March 2001 poll to 59 percent in a November poll. Thirty percent of those questioned believe religious beliefs were the main factor behind the attacks on the United States, while 49 percent said political beliefs were the cause, 10 percent said it was both and 11 percent either said they did not know or had other answers.Religious Praised for Work Against Human Trafficking
Representative Christopher H. Smith (Republican of New Jersey) has spoken out on the floor of Congress in praise of two major groups of U.S. religious for their efforts to fight trafficking in human beings. Smith said he was pleased that organizations like the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious are continuing to join the fight against human trafficking. He entered into the Congressional Record the text of a resolution approved in August at the joint C.M.S.M.-L.C.W.R. assembly in Baltimore in which the two groups said they stand in support of human rights by opposing trafficking in women and children for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. They also pledged to educate others regarding the magnitude, causes and consequences of this abuse.Nuncio Apologizes for Sexual Abuses in Wales
The papal nuncio to Wales apologized to the victims of the sexual abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of Cardiff as he installed a new archbishop. Today we must apologize openly, clearly and with a great love to those who were innocent victims and to their families, said the nuncio, Archbishop Pablo Puente, during Mass at St. David’s Cathedral. Those who are victims must feel that they are like the children of us all and the families that they are everybody’s family, he said. I, too, feel in my heart that I am a member of your great family in solidarity with all of you, and especially in solidarity with all the victims and their families.Dioceses Fast and Pray for Peace in Response to Pope’s Call
Catholics in dioceses around the world, prayed and fasted on Dec. 14 in response to Pope John Paul II’s invitation. At the Vatican, the pope said that fasting is a sign of one’s sadness for situations of conflict, but also a sign of taking responsibility for the seeds of hatred and tension hidden in one’s heart.
Fasting expresses sorrow for a serious calamity, but also the will to assume responsibility in some way, confessing one’s own sins and committing oneself to a conversion of heart and to actions of greater justice toward God and toward one’s neighbors, the pope said. By fasting, believers express their awareness that the renewal of their own lives and of society will come only from God’s action, he said. In addition, he said, fasting allows the sharing of one’s daily bread with those who have none.
Pope John Paul said fasting on Dec. 14, which falls during Advent, has an important significance for Christians who are preparing the way of the Lord, who came into history as the savior and will return again at the end of time as merciful judge. The date also coincides in many parts of the world with the end of the Ramadan fast, during which the followers of Islam express their submission to the one God.