JOHN PAUL II
Sunday 26 August 2001
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. "I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory" (Is 66,18). The word of the prophet Isaiah, which we hear in the liturgy today, makes me think of the important international meeting which will be held at Durban, in South Africa, 31 August to 7 September. It is the UN World Conference Against Racial Discrimination. There, once again, the Church will raise a strong voice to safeguard the fundamental rights of man, rooted in his dignity of being created in the image and likeness of God.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has prepared, with
an updated introduction, a new edition of the document published at my request
in 1988, entitled The Church in Face of Racism: For a More Fraternal
Society, in order to present to the faithful and to the international
community the thought of the Holy See on such a problem.
Unfortunately it emerges in ever new and unexpected ways,
offending and degrading the human family. Racism is a sin that constitutes a
serious offence against God. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that "We
cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than
brotherly fashion, for all men are created in the image of God.... Therefore,
the Church reproves, as foreign to the will of Christ, any discrimination
against people or any persecution of them on the basis of their race, colour,
social condition or religion" (Nostra aetate, n. 5).
Particularly, let us invoke Our Lady, so that everywhere the culture of dialogue, of acceptance, and of respect for every human being may be advanced. To her we entrust the coming Conference of Durban which we hope will reinforce the common will to build a freer and more solidary society.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. To the English visitors he said:
I gladly welcome the new students of the Pontifical North American College who are beginning their studies for the priesthood in the Eternal City. May your years in Rome help you to deepen your faith and your love of the Church. Greetings also to the pilgrimage group from Villanova University. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today at this Angelus prayer, I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.
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