- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

From combined dispatches
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II lamented the continuing threat of terrorism and the toll of the world's "forgotten" wars in an end-of-the-year message to Vatican officials yesterday.
"How can we forget that the face of Christ is marked by pain, by true hurt, because of the conflicts that currently bloody so many regions of the world or threaten to be unleashed with renewed virulence?" the pontiff said in outlining the state of the Roman Catholic Church in 2002 to the Roman Curia, the Vatican administrative body that helps the pontiff govern.
"The situation of the Holy Land remains emblematic, but other 'forgotten' wars are no less devastating," the pope said. "In addition, terrorism continues to kill many victims and digs new trenches."
He said the Catholic Church would not cease to try to have its voice heard and would augment its prayers "in the face of this horizon bathed in blood."
The 82-year-old pope regularly speaks out against war and conflict in the world, but in recent weeks has been all the more emphatic, saying earlier this month that God was angry and disappointed with man because of his warring.
It was the second message of peace the pope has issued this holiday season. Earlier last week, John Paul released his message for the Church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, in which he criticized the political stalemate in the Middle East and the disregard for human rights in the region.
"How can we not hope that hearts open, above all the hearts of the young, to welcome those values to build a future of true and durable peace," the pope said yesterday.
He cited a radio message delivered by World War II-era Pope Pius XII, criticized by Jews for not speaking out during the Holocaust, in which the pontiff lamented the "appalling" toll the war had taken.
Pius XII was wise to have called for a "new national and international order" in 1942, and more than a half-century later, his assessment has been reconfirmed, John Paul said.
John Paul also criticized the destruction of the environment and highlighted a joint statement he signed in June with the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, which said the protection of the environment was a "moral and spiritual" duty of all.
The pope made no mention in his comments of the sex-abuse scandal that has convulsed the American church this year, leading to the resignation last week of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the chief orthodoxy watchdog at the Vatican and also dean of the College of Cardinals, similarly made no mention of the scandal in his comments to the pope on behalf of the cardinals.
Cardinal Ratzinger said only that it was a year in which "we have been able to welcome with gratitude signs of God, but we have also experienced the power of sin, which threatens man and the world."
In a separate development yesterday, the Vatican announced a slight change in the pope's traditional Christmas Day greeting, known as his "Urbi et Orbi" message, Latin for "To the City and to the World."
The speech is usually delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. This year, John Paul will deliver it from the piazza in front of the basilica because of renovations upstairs near the balcony, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement.

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