BY THE HOLY SEE
This conference is taking place at a crucial moment in the life of the international community after the tragic event on 11 September last, described by the Pope at the General Audience of 12 September, as "a dark day in the history of humanity".
The decision to include the topic of terrorism in our agenda was timely and relevant, for the criminal act that caused the United States of America such great suffering - and I am keen to reiterate to the American delegation present here the profound solidarity of the Holy See - could not be ignored at a meeting of the European Ministers of Justice.
During his recent visit to Kazakhstan, the Holy Father declared: "Hatred, fanaticism and terrorism profane the name of God and disfigure the true image of man" (Address to representatives of the world of culture, art and science, Astana, Kazakhstan, 24 September 2001).
Commitment to the fight against terrorism demands us to act with determination at various levels. Among these, juridical action, both legislative and judicial, has full importance: close cooperation between the member States of the Council of Europe is both desirable and necessary.
However, it should be stressed that this activity will not suffice to uproot violent behaviour which, depending on the case, can originate in highly complex situations that are often marked by real or perceived injustice.
Without the courageous political will to solve the difficult problems that are arising in these situations, the perverse spiral of terrorism will never cease to tempt and harrass individuals and groups who see recourse to this wicked and unacceptable practice as an effective or even legitimate form of combat.
Ministers of Justice should not forget that peace is the fruit of justice; a justice which, even when it strikes to sanction criminal acts, must not forget, as Pope John Paul II says, "that it must always be carried out with mercy and love" (30 September 2001).
*L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n.42 p.2.