Peace Requires Development, Affirms Pontiff
Says War Is Never Inevitable
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Peace is unimaginable without the development of each person and all peoples, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this in a message made public Saturday, which he addressed to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The message was sent on the occasion of an April 11-12 conference in Rome titled: "Disarmament, Development and Peace: Prospects for Integral Disarmament."
"Tension and war exist in various parts of the world," the Holy Father wrote, "and even where the tragedy of war is not present, feelings of fear and insecurity are nonetheless widespread. Furthermore, such phenomena as global terrorism blur the distinction between peace an! d war, seriously compromising the future hopes of humankind.
"How can we respond to these challenges? How can we recognize the 'signs of the times'? Certainly, joint action on a political, economic and juridical level is needed, but, even before that, it is necessary to reflect together on a moral and spiritual level. What is ever more vital is to promote a 'new humanism.'"
Benedict XVI highlighted how "development cannot be reduced to simple economic growth; it must include the moral and spiritual dimension. A truly integral humanism must, at the same time, also express solidarity."
"True and lasting peace is unimaginable without the development of each person and of all peoples," he contended. "Nor is it conceivable to think of reducing arms if first we do not eliminate violence at its roots, if man does not first turn decisively to searching for peace and for what is good and just.
"As long as a risk of hostility exists, the arming of states will remain necessary for reasons of legitimate defense. [...] Nonetheless, not all levels of armament are permissible. [...] The vast material and human resources used for military expenditure and armaments are, in fact, taken from projects for the development of peoples, especially the poorest and those most in need of help."
In this context, the Pope made an appeal "for states to reduce military expenditure on arms and to give serious consideration to the idea of creating a global fund for peaceful development projects."
He affirmed the need to do everything possible to ensure that "the economy is directed to serving human beings and solidarity, and not just to profit. On a legal plane, states are called to a renewed commitment, especially as regards international agreements on disarmament and arms control, as well as the ratification and subsequent implementation of previously adopted instruments such as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. [...] Finally, every effort must also be made to combat the proliferation of small-caliber arms."
Conversion to good
"Nonetheless," Benedict XVI acknowledged, "it will be difficult to find a solution to the various technical problems without man's conversion to good on a cultural, moral and spiritual level."
He emphasized the "ever greater need for a choral invocation of the culture of peace and for a joint education in peace, especially among the new generations. [...] The human right to peace is fundamental and inalienable," and upon it "the exercise of all other rights depends."
Although the current situation in the world could give rise "to a justified sense of discomfort and resignation," the Holy Father said, also pointing out that "war is never inevitable and peace is always possible. Even more so, it is a duty! The time has come to change the course of history, to rediscover trust, to cultivate dialogue and to nourish solidarity.""The future of humanity depends upon a commitment on everyone's part," he concluded. "Only by pursuing an integral and solidary humanism, in which disarmament assumes an ethical and spiritual dimension, can humanity progress toward the true and lasting peace for which it longs."