VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Renato R. Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented John Paul II's Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace whose theme is: 'An Ever Timely Commitment: Teaching Peace.' Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Msgr. Frank J. Dewane and Giorgo Filibeck, respectively secretary, undersecretary and official of the same dicastery, were also present.
Cardinal Martino said that the Holy Father 'wanted to address the topic of international law ' nucleus of the message - in the greater context of teaching peace.'
'The Message opens with an urgent appeal to the heads of nations, jurists, educators of young people, and men and women tempted to resort to terrorism, inviting everyone to consider peace possible and, if possible, also a duty.'
The main part of the Message, he said, is devoted to the theme of teaching legality, understood as the need to 'guide individuals and peoples to respect international order.'
The Message, continued Cardinal Martino, 'recalls the principle according to which 'pacta sunt servanda': 'accords freely signed must be honored'. ' It is opportune to recall this fundamental law, above all in moments when there is the temptation to appeal to the law of force rather than to the force of law.'
The president of the pontifical council said that the Pope considers 'the institution of the United Nations one of the most relevant fruits of international law, after the tragedy of World War II, whose objective is 'the prohibition of resorting to force' even with two exceptions: 'the natural law of legitimate defense' and 'the system of collective security.'
'Due recognition to the U.N.,' continued Cardinal Martino, 'is accompanied by an invitation to a 'reform' of the organization so that it functions more efficiently in pursuit of its own statuary ends which remain valid.'
Referring specifically to the fight against terrorism, the Holy Father 'offers two important indications.' One of them is 'to eliminate the causes of injustice ' while insisting on an education that is inspired by respect for human life in all circumstances.' The second indication concerns 'the mission of international law, called to elaborate legal instruments provided with the effective means of prevention, the monitoring and suppression of crime. In any event, democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorism cannot justify renouncing the principles of a state of law.'
'The Holy Father,' he said, 'underscores the need for international law never to bypass ethical and moral law. ' Its essential objective is to replace 'the material force of arms with the moral force of law.'
The message concludes by affirming that 'the value of justice is completed by charity. 'By itself, justice is not enough.' ' 'Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order'.'
At the end of the press conference, journalists asked Cardinal Martino about reforming the U.N. in light of the war in Iraq. 'The need for a superior authority,' he said, 'is highlighted in the encyclical 'Pacem in Terris.' John XXIII desired this reform and Paul VI asked the U.N. to conform to the demands of today's world. In his speech to the United Nations in 1995, John Paul II urged the organism to go from an administrative organ to a moral center for the family of nations. This principle was reaffirmed in a letter sent by Cardinal Sodano in June to Kofi Annan.'
Asking for the Holy See's opinion's on Saddam Hussein's capture, the president of the dicastery said: 'The Holy See hopes that this capture and the process that will take place in the appropriate country, may contribute to the pacification and democratization of Iraq and may help to repair the damage of the defeat of humanity which war always is, as John Paul II says.' With regard to (the possibility of) Saddam Hussein being sentenced to the death penalty, Cardinal Martino affirmed that the Holy Father 'has always been against the death penalty, and I too am against it.'
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