Given before praying the Angelus at St. Peter's Square
March 6, 2003
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
- Forty years ago, on April 11, 1963, Blessed John XXIII published the encyclical "Pacem in Terris," in which he traced the great lines of an effective promotion of peace in the world. The encyclical reveals itself, also today, of extraordinary importance. To construct peace is "a permanent commitment." The reality of these days demonstrates this in a dramatic way.
My thoughts turn, in particular, to Iraq and to all who are involved in the war that rages there. I think especially of the unarmed civilian population that is subjected to a harsh test in various cities. God willing, may this conflict end soon and open the way to a new era of forgiveness, love and peace.
- To achieve such an objective, it is necessary to return to the spirit that animated my venerable predecessor: the spirit of faith, above all, and at the same time of realistic and farsighted wisdom. In the encyclical, he numbered among the "signs of the times" the spreading of the "conviction that eventual controversies among peoples must not be resolved with recourse to arms but, instead, through negotiation" (Part III: AAS 55 , 291). Unfortunately, this positive goal of civilization has not yet been reached.
I wish to entrust the commitment to peace, above all, to young people. I will meet them next Sunday, in the Day dedicated to them. It is indispensable to educate the new generations to peace, which must be ever more the lifestyle, founded -- as Pope John teaches -- on the "four pillars" of truth, justice, love and liberty. In this connection, the World Youth Days constitute a wonderful way of education in fraternity, a laboratory of peace and hope for the future of humanity.
- In preparation for the Youth Day, as is now traditional, I will meet the young people of Rome and of the dioceses of Latium in a special moment of prayer and celebration, which will take place next Thursday afternoon, April 10, in St. Peter's Square. In light of the theme "Behold Your Mother!" I will entrust the young people present to the Holy Virgin and give each one a rosary to help them in their prayer.