Vatican City Bishops from around the world issued a sharp condemnation of terrorism coupled with a moral denunciation of "gross inequalities" between nations.
The Vatican on Friday released the closing message of a special monthlong assembly of bishops summoned to Rome by Pope John Paul II to update the role of churchmen.
From when bishops started flocking to Rome in late September for the meeting, the shockwaves of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington reverberated at the Vatican.
New York's Cardinal Edward Egan drew opening day applause for his ministering to the dying in the World Trade Center, and many of the bishops abandoned texts prepared long in advance to condemn terrorism or to draw attention to injustices which some churchmen saw as fueling hatred by the havenots toward the affluent.
Terrorism topped the list of concerns in the bishops' closing message.
"Our assembly, together with the Holy Father, has expressed its deepest sympathy for the victims of the outrages of Sept. 11 and for their families," the message said.
"We absolutely condemn terrorism, which nothing can justify."
But, the bishops went on, "we could not close our eyes to many other collective tragedies. It is both urgent and necessary to keep also in mind what Pope John Paul II has spoken of as 'the structures of sin,' if we want to point new ways forward for the world."
"The persistence of gross inequalities between nations is a threat to peace," the bishops declared.
They noted that some 80 percent of the world's population lives on some 20 percent of its income and concluded: "A drastic moral change is required."