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Fight against terrorism, crime can't be criminal, immoral, pope says

November 12, 2012 ·  , Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, VATICAN CITY (CNS).



A Swiss Guard stands at attention as Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead an audience with members of Interpol in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Nov. 9. In 2008 the Vatican joined Interpol, the international police organization that coordinates crime fighting and prevention around the world.

VATICAN CITY — While condemning terrorism and organized crime as brutal and barbaric forms of violence, Pope Benedict XVI also criticized efforts to fight crime in ways that go against moral norms and the rule of law.

“Action against crime should always be carried out with respect for the rights of each person and of the principles of the rule of law,” he told members of Interpol, the international police organization that coordinates crime fighting and crime prevention around the world.

Since all forms of violence are “unacceptable” because they wound human dignity and offend the whole of humanity, “it is therefore necessary to combat criminal activities within the limits of moral and juridical norms,” he said Nov. 9 during an audience with about 1,000 members of Interpol, who were in Rome for their general assembly.

The pope said terrorism is “one of the most brutal forms of violence,” which “sows hate, death and a desire for revenge.”

Modern terrorism, he said, “has transformed itself into an obscure web of political complicity, with sophisticated technology, enormous financial resources and planning projects on a vast scale.”

Organized crime also is a major concern as it “acts and strikes in darkness, (and operates) outside any rules.” It engages in a number of illicit and immoral activities, such as human and organ trafficking; arms and contraband smuggling; and the trade in pharmaceuticals, which often kill instead of cure and are “used in large part by the poor.”

“These crimes transgress the moral barriers which were progressively built up by civilization and they reintroduce a form of barbarism which denies man and his dignity,” the pope said.

Pope Benedict praised the work of Interpol, calling the organization “a bastion of international security” that helps the common good, “because a just society needs order and respect for the rule of law to achieve a peaceful and tranquil coexistence in society.”

While the number of wars and other military conflicts has decreased over the decades, he said, criminal violence “is responsible each year for the majority of violent deaths in the world” and “at times, poses a major challenge to the supremacy of the state.”

The fight against crime “must also aim at the reform and the correction of the criminal, who remains always a person, a subject of inalienable rights, and as such is not to be excluded from society, but rather rehabilitated,” the pope said.

Experts need to provide “courageous and lucid analysis of the underlying motives for such unacceptable criminal acts,” he said.

The problems and conditions that feed violence need to be remedied and other factors like “social exclusion and deprivation” that foster the spread of violence and hatred should get attention, the pope said.

About 190 countries are member nations of Interpol, including the Vatican’s “gendarme” security force, which joined Interpol in 2008. The gendarme corps, which has about 130 members, works closely with the Swiss Guard, especially during events at which the pope is present.

The gendarme director, Domenico Giani, has said cooperating with Interpol marked a big step forward for Vatican security because it gives the Vatican access to a large databank of suspects, the latest information on criminal or subversive organizations, and information on the latest anti-terrorism operational procedures.


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