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Pope John Paul II's 1996 Message for
the World Day of Peace

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Pope John Paul II issued a message for the World Day of Peace on 1996-DEC-8. It was directed against religiously motivated violence. It is titled "That violence may never again be justified by appeals to religious motives."

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"Certainly there are many factors which can help restore peace, while safeguarding the demands of justice and human dignity. But no process of peace can ever begin unless an attitude of sincere forgiveness takes root in human hearts. When such forgiveness is lacking, wounds continue to fester, fueling in the younger generation endless resentment, producing a desire for revenge and causing fresh destruction. Offering and accepting forgiveness is the essential condition for making the journey towards authentic and lasting peace...

A correct reading of history will make it easier to accept and appreciate the social, cultural and religious differences between individuals, groups and peoples. This is the first step towards reconciliation, since respect for differences is an inherently necessary condition for genuine relationships between individuals and between groups. The suppression of differences can result in apparent peace, but it creates a volatile situation which is in fact the prelude to fresh outbreaks of violence...

The sincere desire for peace has to be translated into a firm decision to remove every obstacle to achieving peace. Here the various religions can make an important contribution, as they have often done in the past, by speaking out against war and bravely facing the consequent risks. But are not all of us called to do still more, by drawing upon the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions?...

The liberating encounter with forgiveness, though fraught with difficulties, can be experienced even by wounded hearts, thanks to the healing power of love, which has its first source in God who is Love. . . . Divine love is the foundation of the reconciliation to which all of us are called. . . . In a certain sense every baptized person must consider himself a 'minister of reconciliation' since, having been reconciled with God and the brethren, he is called to build peace with the power of truth and justice."

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