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Pope calls racism and aggressive nationalism sins

Racism, aggressive nationalism and ethnic violence are attacks against the human family and serious offences against God, Pope John Paul II has said.

The Holy Father made this statement yesterday while meeting with thousands of pilgrims to pray the Angelus at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. He urged the international community to support the UN's World Conference Against Racial Discrimination, which will begins in Durban, South Africa, this Friday.

"In that venue the Church will also vigorously raise her voice to safeguard the fundamental rights of man, rooted in his dignity of being created in the image and likeness of God," he promised. "In the last decades, characterized by the development of globalization and marked by the worrying resurgence of aggressive nationalism, ethnic violence and widespread phenomena of racial discrimination, human dignity has often been seriously threatened."

He said every "upright conscience cannot but decisively condemn any racism no matter in what heart or place it is found".

"The Church intends to continue with her efforts in this area, and requests all believers to make their own responsible contribution of conversion of heart, sensitization and formation," the Pope concluded. "In order to achieve this, in the first place, prayer is necessary."

To this end, he announced that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has prepared a new edition of the document published at his request in 1988, entitled The Church in Face of Racism: For a More Fraternal Society.

Text of Papal address on racism and aggressive nationalism (26/8/01)
UN World Conference Against Racism