Please find below the message for Justice and Peace Sunday from Bishop John Mone,which will be read out at all Masses in Scotland on the weekend of 3/4 January 2003. A collection will be taken up at each Mass to fund the work of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland of which Bishop Mone is President.  

For more information on the Justice and Peace Commission visit:  
http://www.justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk/  

Full text below:  

MESSAGE FOR THE SCOTTISH DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE  

Epiphany Sunday 4 January 2004  

My Dear Sisters & Brothers,  

We are still celebrating the Birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Today, in particular we celebrate the manifestation of Christ as Messiah to all the peoples of the World represented by the three wise men. For this year's World Day of Prayer for Peace, Pope John Paul has chosen, as his theme, "International Law, The Path to Peace". At first glance this title seems uninspiring. Indeed it is quite the opposite.  

In the past year we have seen highlighted in a very particular way the importance of International Law. It provides a system for regulating disputes between nations and also provides a basic framework of human and civil rights and duties of all citizens of the world. During my visit to the Vatican in March last year, I had the opportunity to thank the Holy Father for his strong and courageous lead in condemning war as a solution to the situation in Iraq and for upholding the importance of International Law in solving our disputes. Even as I write, there is concern for the status of prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay who are being kept in a legal limbo, which does not regard them as prisoners of war nor affords them the rights enjoyed by prisoners under criminal law.  

While looking this year at International Law we should remember that we have just begun the International Year of the Family under the auspices of the United Nations Organisation and we are being encouraged to work together to strengthen family life.  

During the last year I publicly criticised the so called "Family Unit" in Dungavel Prison and detention of children in Dungavel Prison. While we recognise that people may differ on the general policy for asylum seekers in our country, we have to say that, as regards children, this heartless solution shames the people of this country. I believe that what is happening at Dungavel is contrary to International Law as expressed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and in the European Convention on Human Rights.  

I take this opportunity of thanking the thousands of people who signed the petition to release the children and give them back their freedom and their childhood. Your signature did count because it gave a voice to these voiceless children. The Home Secretary was impressed by this volume of protest but unfortunately chose not to listen.  

We remember today the Saviour who came as our Prince of Peace and who came as a child. We remember that He and His family had to flee their own land because of the danger of persecution.  

We pray for those who make our laws and for those who must uphold these laws. We pray for those who work to defend human and civil rights throughout the world and for those who work for peace. May we all be co-workers with them in the year ahead.  

May God bless you and yours with his peace throughout 2004.  

With affection,  

+John Mone  
Bishop of Pailsey  
President, Justice and Peace Commission  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  

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