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Peace Day message favours human security over national security

As Australia's political leaders made election campaign promises to boost national security, on the eve of today's International Day of Peace, religious leaders are acknowledging the threat of terrorism but pointing to the human heart as the source of the most effective response.

At his Angelus audience on Sunday, Pope John Paul II remarked that fear of terrorism has caused believers to echo the questions of the Psalms: "Why, O Lord?" and "How long?" Last week, Cardinal George Pell told 250 people gathered in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, for a lunchtime Mass in remembrance of the victims of terror attacks, that "The threat of terrorism seems to have become part of our daily lives".

In a message for the International Day of Peace, Sr Patty Fawkner of the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre said "Australia will have more chance of creating a culture of peace by favouring human security over a narrow notion of national security, and by privileging dialogue over ever-increasing defence capability".

Referring to the "instinct" of martyred El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, she continued: "The world community can only hope for universal peace by addressing the root causes of conflict and by eschewing a military response as the automatic solution to threat. The causes of conflict are generally social, economic and political injustices exacerbated by the widening divide between the have and have-nots of people and nations in our world."

On Sunday, Pope John Paul said the Christian answer to the questions posed by terrorism is "embodied in Christ and his Sacrifice". He urged all believers to recognise that "the Cross of Christ is an icon of hope," and to draw from their faith new "comfort and courage."

Yesterday Australian Prime Minister John Howard created unease in the region by asserting that he would order a pre-emptive strike against terrorists overseas if he believed it was the only way to stop an attack on Australia. Opposition leader Mark Latham rejected the wisdom of pre-emption, but pledged to create a new light infantry battalion, relocate the paratroopers at Sydney's Holsworthy base to Townsville. and provide extra benefits to service personnel.

Christ's Cross as "icon of hope" against terrorism (Catholic World News 20/9/04)
Uniya's Statement for International Day of Peace - 21 September 2004 (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 20/9/04)
Terrorism spreads new fear (Catholic Leader 19/9/04)

International community should unite against terrorism, Cardinal Ruini says ( 20/9/04)
End scourge of terrorism, build a civilization of love (L'Osservatore Romano 15 September 2004)
Recourse to violence is contrary to any religion (Vatican Information Service 18/9/04)
Police brutality against Christians must be addressed at a political level ( 20/9/04)
International Day of Peace
Malaysia hits back at PM's pre-emptive strike (Sydney Morning Herald 21/9/04)

21 Sep 2004