Pope John Paul II in Bosnia 1997
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It's not often noted that that a famous Catholic canonized saint gave speeches decrying war propaganda, which, as he put it, is "directed especially to the young." Pope John Paul II was Canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014. [Here is his index page at the Vatican website and a photo gallery of the event.] While Pontiff, Pope John Paul II delivered his "MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II ON THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN EUROPE" on Monday, May 8, 1995.
The pope began with a strong rebuke of "stifling of all freedom through police control and the psychological conditioning resulting from the unilateral use of the media." He explained "totalitarianism destroys fundamental human freedoms and tramples upon human rights. Manipulating public opinion with the incessant pounding of its propaganda, it makes it easy to yield to the attraction of violence and weapons and in the end it overturns our human sense of responsibility." He continued "It is in fact characteristic of all totalitarian regimes to create an enormous propaganda machine in order to justify their own crimes...War gives rise to a propaganda which leaves no room for different interpretations, critical analysis of the causes of conflict, and the attribution of real responsibility."
Here are excerpts:
"The world, and Europe in particular, headed towards that enormous catastrophe because they had lost the moral strength needed to oppose everything that was pushing them into the maelstrom of war. For totalitarianism destroys fundamental human freedoms and tramples upon human rights. Manipulating public opinion with the incessant pounding of its propaganda, it makes it easy to yield to the attraction of violence and weapons and in the end it overturns our human sense of responsibility.
The Propaganda Machine: A further reflection is called for. During the Second World War, in addition to conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, there was widespread use of another deadly instrument of war: propaganda. Before striking the enemy with weapons aimed at his physical destruction, efforts were made to annihilate him morally by defamation, false accusations and the inculcation of an irrational intolerance, by means of a thorough programme of indoctrination, directed especially to the young. It is in fact characteristic of all totalitarian regimes to create an enormous propaganda machine in order to justify their own crimes and to provoke ideological intolerance and racial violence against those who do not deserve - it is claimed - to be considered an integral part of the community. How distant all this is from an authentic culture of peace! Such a culture presupposes a recognition of the intrinsic link between truth and love. The culture of peace is built by rejecting at the outset every sort of racism and intolerance, by withstanding racist propaganda, by keeping economic and political ambition within due limits and by decisively rejecting violence and all forms of exploitation.
The perverse techniques of propaganda do not stop at falsifying reality; they also distort information about where responsibility lies, thus making an informed moral and political judgment extremely difficult. War gives rise to a propaganda which leaves no room for different interpretations, critical analysis of the causes of conflict, and the attribution of real responsibility... In every society, war leads to a totalitarian use of the means of communication and propaganda, which fails to inculcate respect for others and esteem for dialogue, but rather encourages suspicion and a desire for reprisals.
....Today too many conflicts are still raging in different parts of the world. Public opinion, shaken by the horrible pictures which enter homes each day via television, reacts emotionally but all too quickly grows accustomed to these conflicts and comes to accept their inevitability. Besides being unjust, this attitude is extremely dangerous. We must never forget what happened in the past and what is still happening today. These are tragedies which affect countless innocent victims, whose cries of terror and suffering are a challenge to the consciences of all decent men and women. We cannot and must not yield to the logic of arms!... Sadly, while we are celebrating the return of peace, is it not a fact that there are people who continue to prepare for war, both by promoting a culture of hatred and by distributing sophisticated weapons of war?- Advertisement -
...For this reason I ask you, the young people of the 21st century, to be particularly alert to the signs that the culture of hatred and death is growing. Reject sterile and violent ideologies. Renounce every form of extreme nationalism and intolerance. It is along these paths that the temptation to violence and war slowly but surely appears
In EVANGELIUM VITAE given at Saint Peter's on March 25, 1995, the pope stated, in part,
"The passing of unjust laws often raises difficult problems of conscience for morally upright people with regard to the issue of cooperation, since they have a right to demand not to be forced to take part in morally evil actions. Sometimes the choices which have to be made are difficult; they may require the sacrifice of prestigious professional positions or the relinquishing of reasonable hopes of career advancement...
In order to shed light on this difficult question, it is necessary to recall the general principles concerning cooperation in evil actions. Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil... To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right."
republished from libertyfight.com