Pope's World Peace Day message highlights international law

Even in the midst of war, basic human rights must be respected and all parties involved must work to end hostilities, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for World Peace Day 2006.

International humanitarian law is "binding on all peoples" even in times of war, he said in his message for the Jan. 1 day of prayer.

Catholic News Service reports that Pope Benedict's message, "In Truth, Peace," was released yesterday at the Vatican.

The pope began his message, which is distributed to heads of state around the world, by offering his best wishes to all people of good will, "especially those who are suffering as a result of violence and armed conflict."

"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," Pope Benedict wrote.

The message focused on truth as the foundation for peace -- the truth that all people are created in the image and likeness of God with equal dignity, that God has a plan for humanity, and that good and evil exist and can be recognized by all people.

Pope Benedict quoted the Second Vatican Council, which said, "Not everything automatically becomes permissible between hostile parties once war has regrettably commenced."

The body of international humanitarian law was developed to limit the devastating consequences of war, and its precepts are binding on all nations, the pope said.

In fact, humanitarian law must be brought up to date to respond to "the changing scenarios of today's armed conflicts and the use of ever newer and more sophisticated weapons," he said.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the pope's message at a Vatican press conference.

He said the Catholic Church absolutely condemns the use of torture in all circumstances, including interrogations aimed at preventing further violence.

"Torture is a humiliation of the human person" and there is no excuse for using it, he said. Other methods exist for gaining information, assessing threats and stopping potential terrorists.

Human rights must be respected, pope says in World Peace Day message (Catholic News Service 13/12/05)

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14 Dec 2005