Brothers and Sisters of One Human Family!
1. Peace is a gift of the Resurrected Jesus Christ. Peace is the first word that the Disciples heard from Christ after His victory over death (cf. John 20:19). Peace which Jesus offers us relies on a message which He brings to mankind: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. (John 14:27). So peace given by the Resurrected Christ is man’s reconciliation with God, with the world with another fellow man. Peace conquers sin, the main cause of divisions and wars. Man, unless he is reconciled with God and with people, cannot be an effective and credible witness who makes peace through truth in love. Peace is always the fruit of justice in religious, social and political fields. It is also the fruit of solidarity of men. Peace cannot be achieved without mutual forgiveness. Only in this way can we find the supreme good of peoples and nations living and working together, especially those in neighboring lands. Many times in both distant and recent history, mankind could see that war is most often a manifestation of egoism, and even if waged in defense brings about enormous destruction and leads to profound human tragedies.
2. The human family bound together by its common origin in the God of Creation today when the weapons of destruction lead to such incalculable consequences, must reject violence and terrorism, especially if undertaken in the name of God as a means to solve existing conflicts. Thanks to mass media, every human being on earth today can see for himself that conflicts flaring up on grounds of claims, race or religion always lead to violation of fundamental human rights and have to be generally recognized as crime against humanity.
3. The protracted conflict on the Balkans, wars on the African continent and the recent bloody conflict in the Holy Land make all of us well aware that only a just peace which respects sovereign rights and the resulting rights of peoples and nations is able to guarantee human rights.
4. We, the Polish Bishops, the Sons of a Nation that has experienced many sufferings, especially during the last two hundred years, appeal to the conflicting sides on the Earth of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the Earth so dear and close to believers in One God for immediate cessation of war operations. It is necessary to recognize the right of Palestinians and Israel to their own states. It is necessary to embark on immediate international measures that would bring a lasting peace to this part of the world.
5. We have entered into a new twenty-first century and into a new third millennium of Christianity. At the beginning of this year in His Message for the World Day of Peace, His Holiness wrote: “The pillars of true peace are justice and that form of love which is forgiveness. ” (no. 2).
6. After the end of the most tragic of all wars, when so many people lost their lives during military operations and millions of others were murdered only because the Nazi or communist ideology did not give them the right to live, we the generation of the 21st century, relying on values enshrined in the Gospel appeal in the name of humanism for cessation of war operations everywhere in the world, and especially in the Holy Land, so dear and close to Christians, Jews and Muslims. This land where today fundamental human rights are violated and holy places like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem bears witness to bloody struggle should become a symbol of genuine dialogue, peaceful co-existence and cooperation between peoples and nations which believe in One God. Let the people who live there be like brothers to each other extending hands in a friendly gesture. We wish to once again recall the words taken from the quoted Papal Message: “True peace therefore is the fruit of justice, that moral virtue and legal guarantee which ensures full respect for rights and responsibilities, and the just distribution of benefits and burdens. But because human justice is always fragile and imperfect, subject as it is to the limitations and egoism of individuals and groups, it must include and, as it were, be completed by the forgiveness which heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations” (no. 3).
7. We are well aware of the fact that peace requires concessions which can be difficult and even painful, but the alternative is the meaninglessness of life in constant danger. To all concerned it is the cause of paralysis of social, public and especially family life. What is more, this situation weighs tragically on the upbringing of generations of young people growing up in an atmosphere of never ending conflict extend the chain of absurdity leading to further crime in the perpetration of which children are used as victims of hatred fanned by adults.
8. The Roman Catholic Church has been carrying out it evangelical mission in Poland in the heart of Europe for a thousand years. Today our continent is uniting and by doing so wishes to build its future on sound Christian humanism. We appeal to all people of good will to join this great, brotherly, solidarity-based joint action for peace between all peoples on our Planet. The uniting Europe, a continent from which great ideas emanated was, unfortunately, also a continent which gave rise to tragic conflicts of a global dimension. Let it today, on the intercession of Patron Saints, contribute to lasting peace respecting human rights and the rights of peoples.
9. We appeal to all believers with our ardent entreaty for prayer during the month-of-May holy services to the Blessed Virgin. Let us offer our prayers to merciful God, upon intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy – Our Lady of Peace, for lasting Peace in the Holy Land and world wide.
Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops attending the 317 Plenary Meeting of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate in Warsaw
Warsaw, April 30, 2002