Renounce Egoism, He Urges Superpowers : Arms Talks ‘a Flash of Hope,’ Pope Declares

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Times Staff Writer

Pope John Paul II told a New Year’s Day audience in St. Peter’s Square that the forthcoming arms talks in Geneva represent a “flash of hope on the world’s horizon.”

The pontiff, speaking after a morning Mass marking World Peace Day, said the United States and the Soviet Union must “renounce egoistic and ideological interests” if the Geneva talks are to be successful.

He called for a “new philosophy” in international relations that would do away with “tensions, hate and subversions.”


The “energies and resources, freed by disarmament,” could be devoted to the “great causes of our times--struggle against hunger, promotion of human rights and welfare of the people,” he said.

Otherwise, the Pope said, “all will be fragile and precarious.”

The Mass featured a guitar player and young singers joined by the congregation--a kind of folk Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in Christendom. When it was over, the Pope addressed the throng in St. Peter’s Square from his apartment in the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square.

He said that 1984 was a year “of anxious questions” regarding nuclear disarmament and that the new year will be marked by the talks between the Soviets and the Americans starting next week in Geneva.

Only rarely has the Pope mentioned specific negotiations between the two superpowers. He said the decision to resume the arms talks was a wise one but added that the task will not be easy and that the talks will involve “vast and intricate” problems.

At issue, he said, is the fact of nuclear forces increasing on this planet, and now being projected into outer space, and he pointed out that the products of modern nuclear armament are ever more sophisticated. But he said the negotiations must not be guided by technical criteria alone and must take into consideration, “above all, human and moral reason.”

According to the Pope, accord can be found by the two sides at Geneva if they are convinced that “destruction and survival, in any nuclear confrontation, would be shared equally by both sides.”


He suggested that the discussions take into account “the legitimate needs and interests” of everyone involved. And he added that the “security of everyone” would be increased if the two governments could agree to reduce the level of their armaments and accept “effective systems of verification.”

He said that if the negotiators reach agreement and reduce their arms levels, “it will change not only East-West relations but also North-South (rich and poor) relations.”

The Pope said the new year could bring good tidings to the “people of all continents--and to the young of the world.”