India needs to learn arms control and works of peace from a papal letter written some 50 years ago, says Indian bishops marking the golden Jubilee of the encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris.
"India, the largest importer of arms in the world, and one of the 24 countries that abstained from the UN Arms Trade Treaty – particularly needs to learn right lessons from what Pacem in Terris says about Arms race," the bishops said.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Office for Justice, Peace and Development said this in their statement marking the golden jubilee of the papal letter on April 11.
"Arms race deprives less developed countries of social and economic progress and creates a climate of fear. “Hence justice, right reason, and the recognition of human dignity cry out insistently for a cessation of the arms race," the bishops said quoting the letter.
Pope John XXIII issued the letter shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis – an “arm wrestle” between the U.S. and the USSR – in 1962, and after the erection of the Berlin Wall, the statement noted.
The encyclical sets out four main guidelines for following the path of peace- the importance of the inviolability of a person’s rights; the universal nature of the common good; the moral foundations of politics; the strength of reason and the beacon of faith, the statement noted.
Given the ‘existence and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,’ an atomic war seemed imminent and the encyclical helped deactivate the horrific mechanism of the crisis, the bishops said.
Pacem in Terris, the last encyclical of Pope John XXIII, was "a heartfelt cry" for the cause of justice and peace.
The encyclical had the distinctive feature of being "an open letter to the world" as it was addressed to “all people of good will”, to both believers and non-believers, beyond borders.
Its ‘optimistic tone and development of a philosophy of rights’ gave it a universal appeal and evoked favorable response almost from all the quarters and blocs.
The then UN Secretary general U-Thant had said: “The encyclical is certainly in line with all ideas and objectives espoused by the United Nations.”
Soviet agency Tass widely distributed the text, stressing, above all, the part about disarmament.
The U.S. Department of State welcomed it “as a historic encyclical of global importance.” The Washington Post wrote that the encyclical “is the voice of the conscience of the world.”
Even in Britain, a number of Anglican representatives presented a motion praising the papal message.
Source: press statement
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