Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd after praying the "Regina Coeli" from the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 29. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope says quest for peace must also be quest for truth

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • May 1, 2012

VATICAN CITY - The quest for justice and peace will bear fruit only if it's also a quest for the truth about the human person, created by God and "endowed with intelligence and freedom, capable of knowing and loving," Pope Benedict XVI said.

Intelligence enables people to discover what is good and beneficial -- "the right order that is inscribed within creation itself" -- the Pope said in a message April 30 to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Academy members were meeting at the Vatican April 27-May 1 to discuss progress in the global search for peace and justice in view of the 50th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, "Pacem in Terris."

Pope Benedict said that while the world has changed significantly in the past 50 years, "Pope John's encyclical was and is a powerful summons to engage in that creative dialogue between the church and the world, between believers and nonbelievers, which the Second Vatican Council set out to promote."

The late Pope's plea for peace, for respect for human dignity and freedom and, more basically, for respect for what is right and good, holds out "a message of hope to a world that is hungry for it, a message that can resonate with people of all beliefs and none, because its truth is accessible to all," the Pope said.

Pope Benedict said Blessed John Paul II built on Blessed John's teaching about peace when he insisted that forgiveness was a key ingredient in peacemaking. Pope John Paul made his comments just a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

"The notion of forgiveness needs to find its way into international discourse on conflict resolution, so as to transform the sterile language of mutual recrimination which leads nowhere," Pope Benedict said. "If the human creature is made in the image of God, a God of justice who is 'rich in mercy,' then these qualities need to be reflected in the conduct of human affairs.

"Forgiveness is not a denial of wrongdoing," he said, "but a participation in the healing and transforming love of God which reconciles and restores."

Pope Benedict said humanity will never find peace if it cannot find a way to acknowledge and move past "historic wrongs and injustices."

The Pope said many of the conflicts and injustices that seemed unsolvable when Pope John wrote his encyclical in 1963 have, in fact, been resolved.

"Let us take heart, then, as we struggle for peace and justice in the world today, confident that our common pursuit of the divinely established order, of a world where the dignity of every human person is accorded the respect that is due, can and will bear fruit," Pope Benedict said.

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