The Pope and our times

The world stands stunned and saddened at the news of the act of violence against Pope John Paul II. At this writing the details of the shooting and of the Pontiff's condition are not fully known. But the readers of this newspaper will join millions throughout the world in heartfelt prayer for the Pope and for divine guidance in dealing with the appalling surge of violence and terrorism that seems to be directed against individuals and societies everywhere. To lash out in anger at those who would mindlessly shatter human life surely is no solution. Only the deepest love for all men and a renewal of commitment to moral and spiritual regeneration will heal the impulses of hate and destruction.

That such a wanton attack should have been aimed at yet another world figure seems almost symbolic of our turbulent times. The genial Roman Catholic prelate would be the first to disown the use of force -- and to forgive his assailant. His pastoral effort as leader of his church has been to foster peace, reconciliation, accommodation -- in Ireland, Latin America, the Philippines, and , not least of all, his native communist Poland. There is no doubt that the blow to his person is felt keenly by all.

As the world sorts out this tragic event, it is important that it not fall into a state of fear and helplessness. The fact that violence seems to be growing bolder may be simply a sign that the worst aspects of human nature are coming to light to be confronted and dealt with -- a development foretold centuries ago by the biblical prophets. Mankind has countless examples of God's unfailing power to overcome such moral insanity and to protect human lives. Th e great need of the hour is to invoke that power.

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