Pope outlines moral right to defend against terrorism

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II on Tuesday condemned terrorism as a crime against humanity and said nothing can justify the kind of ``horrendous'' slaughter that took place on Sept. 11.

His comments _ the most extensive yet on the subject _ were released as part of his annual peace message for Jan. 1. The message focused on the ``new level of violence introduced by organized terrorism.''

John Paul said terrorism is ``born in hatred,'' flourishes in poverty, isolation and fanaticism and leads to a ``tragic spiral of violence that involves each new generation.''

But, he stressed, ``the injustice that exists in the world can never be used as an excuse to justify terrorist attacks.''

``Terrorism's pretext that it acts in the name of poverty is clearly false,'' he said.

The pontiff was also sharp in his condemnation of terrorism in the name of religion. ``It profanes religions to proclaim terrorism in the name of God,'' he said.

John Paul said the fight against terrorism must follow ``moral and legal rules'' in both the choice of objectives and in the means. Responsibility must be assigned to individuals, not to an entire nation, ethnic or religious group, he said.

The pontiff said international cooperation in the fight against terrorism is vital, along with efforts to alleviate the conditions which breed it.

``Recruiting terrorists is easier in a social context in which rights are violated and injustice is long tolerated,'' he said.

The pontiff expressed his concern about the sense of fear and vulnerability that resulted from ``horrendous massacre'' and said he hoped his message would offer hope.