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Message for 2006 World Day of Peace

12/14/2005 - 6:15 AM PST

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"The Problem of Truth and Untruth Is Concern of Every Man and Woman"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Peace, to be celebrated Jan. 1. The Holy See today published the message, whose theme is "In Truth, Peace."

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Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
for the Celebration of World Day of Peace
1 January 2006

In Truth, Peace

1. In this traditional Message for the World Day of Peace at the beginning of the New Year, I offer cordial greetings and good wishes to men and women everywhere, especially those who are suffering as a result of violence and armed conflicts. My greeting is one filled with hope for a more serene world, a world in which more and more individuals and communities are committed to the paths of justice and peace.

2. Before all else, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to my Predecessors, the great Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, who were astute promoters of peace. Guided by the spirit of the Beatitudes, they discerned in the many historical events which marked their respective Pontificates the providential intervention of God, who never ceases to be concerned for the future of the human race. As tireless heralds of the Gospel, they constantly invited everyone to make God the starting-point of their efforts on behalf of concord and peace throughout the world. This, my first Message for the World Day of Peace, is meant to follow in the path of their noble teaching; with it, I wish to reiterate the steadfast resolve of the Holy See to continue serving the cause of peace. The very name Benedict, which I chose on the day of my election to the Chair of Peter, is a sign of my personal commitment to peace. In taking this name, I wanted to evoke both the Patron Saint of Europe, who inspired a civilization of peace on the whole continent, and Pope Benedict XV, who condemned the First World War as a ''useless slaughter''(1) and worked for a universal acknowledgment of the lofty demands of peace.

3. The theme chosen for this year's reflection - " In truth, peace" -- expresses the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace. The Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," promulgated forty years ago at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, stated that mankind will not succeed in ''building a truly more human world for everyone, everywhere on earth, unless all people are renewed in spirit and converted to the truth of peace."(2) But what do those words, ''the truth of peace,'' really mean? To respond adequately to this question, we must realize that peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict, but needs to be understood as ''the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine Founder,'' an order ''which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for ever more perfect justice.''(3) As the result of an order planned and willed by the love of God, peace has an intrinsic and invincible truth of its own, and corresponds ''to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us.''(4)

4. Seen in this way, peace appears as a heavenly gift and a divine grace which demands at every level the exercise of the highest responsibility: that of conforming human history - in truth, justice, freedom and love - to the divine order. Whenever there is a loss of fidelity to the transcendent order, and a loss of respect for that ''grammar'' of dialogue which is the universal moral law written on human hearts,(5) whenever the integral development of the person and the protection of his fundamental rights are hindered or denied, whenever countless people are forced to endure intolerable injustices and inequalities, how can we hope that the good of peace will be realized? The essential elements which make up the truth of that good are missing. Saint Augustine described peace as "tranquillitas ordinis,"(6) the tranquility of order. By this, he meant a situation which ultimately enables the truth about man to be fully respected and realized.

5. Who and what, then, can prevent the coming of peace? Sacred Scripture, in its very first book, Genesis, points to the lie told at the very beginning of history by the animal with a forked tongue, whom the Evangelist John calls ''the father of lies'' (John 8:44). Lying is also one of the sins spoken of in the final chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, which bars liars from the heavenly Jerusalem: ''outside are ... all who love falsehood'' (22:15). Lying is linked to the tragedy of sin and its perverse consequences, which have had, and continue to have, devastating effects on the lives of individuals and nations. We need but think of the events of the past century, when aberrant ideological and political systems willfully twisted the ...

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