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Pope's Message for 2005 World Day of Peace

12/17/2004 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Do Not Be Overcome by Evil but Overcome Evil With Good"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is John Paul II's Message for the World Day of Peace, to be observed Jan. 1. The Vatican press office released it today.

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Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 2005
World Day of Peace
January 1, 2005
Do Not Be Overcome by Evil, but Overcome Evil With Good

1. At the beginning of the New Year, I once again address the leaders of nations and all men and women of good will, who recognize the need to build peace in the world. For the theme of this 2005 World Day of Peace I have chosen Saint Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil.

The great Apostle brings out a fundamental truth: peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good. If we consider the tragic scenario of violent fratricidal conflicts in different parts of the world, and the untold sufferings and injustices to which they have given rise, the only truly constructive choice is, as Saint Paul proposes, to flee what is evil and hold fast to what is good (cf. Romans 12:9).

Peace is a good to be promoted with good: it is a good for individuals, for families, for nations and for all humanity; yet it is one which needs to be maintained and fostered by decisions and actions inspired by good. We can appreciate the profound truth of another saying of Saint Paul: "Repay no one evil for evil" (Romans 12:17). The one way out of the vicious circle of requiting evil for evil is to accept the Apostle's words: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

Evil, good and love

2. From the beginning, humanity has known the tragedy of evil and has struggled to grasp its roots and to explain its causes. Evil is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world. It is the result of human freedom. Freedom, which distinguishes human beings from every other creature on earth, is ever present at the heart of the drama of evil. Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it. Sacred Scripture teaches that at the dawn of history Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and Abel was killed by Cain, his brother (cf. Genesis 3-4). These were the first wrong choices, which were succeeded by countless others down the centuries. Each of these choices has an intrinsic moral dimension, involving specific individual responsibilities and the fundamental relationship of each person with God, with others and with all of creation.

At its deepest level, evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love.(1) Moral good, on the other hand, is born of love, shows itself as love and is directed towards love. All this is particularly evident to Christians, who know that their membership in the one mystical Body of Christ sets them in a particular relationship not only with the Lord but also with their brothers and sisters. The inner logic of Christian love, which in the Gospel is the living source of moral goodness, leads even to the love of one's enemies: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink" (Romans 12:20).

The "grammar" of the universal moral law

3. If we look to the present state of the world, we cannot help but note the disturbing spread of various social and political manifestations of evil: from social disorders to anarchy and war, from injustice to acts of violence and killing. To steer a path between the conflicting claims of good and evil, the human family urgently needs to preserve and esteem that common patrimony of moral values bestowed by God himself. For this reason, Saint Paul encourages all those determined to overcome evil with good to be noble and disinterested in fostering generosity and peace (cf. Romans 12:17-21).

Ten years ago, in addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations about the need for common commitment to the service of peace, I made reference to the "grammar" of the universal moral law,(2) to which the Church appeals in her various pronouncements in this area. By inspiring common values and principles, this law unites human beings, despite their different cultures, and is itself unchanging: "it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. ... Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies."(3)

4. This common grammar of the moral law requires ever greater commitment and responsibility in ensuring that the life of individuals and of ...

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