- Fr. Bob
Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
for the celebration of The World Day of Peace
January 1, 2013
"Blessed are the peacemakers"
- growing instances of inequality between rich and poor
- the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset
- an unregulated financial capitalism
- varied forms of terrorism and international crime,
- forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort the true nature of religion.
But I am not pessimistic. The many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. Jesus’ beatitude tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort. In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence but also to hard work.
Peace is possible
Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible. The peacemaker, according to Jesus’ beatitude, is the one who seeks the good of the other. Therefore - peace is principally the attainment of the common good. The paths which lead to the attainment of the common good are also the paths that must be followed in the pursuit of peace.
Peace comes from respecting human life
Peace concerns the human person as a whole. The path to the attainment of the common good - and therefore to peace - is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent.
There are many immediate obstacles to this respect for the human person, which can be seen in different ways all around the globe. Among them I mention:
- the promotion of abortion
- the promotion of a so-called “right” to euthanasia
- attempts to make marriage juridically equivalent to radically different types of union
- a refusal in some countries to recognize the right to invoke the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity
- increasing instances of religious intolerance, even in countries of long-standing Christian tradition
- a radical “neo-conservativism” which spreads the conviction that economic growth should be pursued even to the detriment of the state’s social responsibilities and civil society’s networks of solidarity
- increasing attacks on the workers’ right to organize, sometimes even calling this attack on labor’s rights “the right to work”
Not sectarian but universal - the challenge before us
These principles of human dignity are not truths of one particular denomination. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Catholic Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation.
How do we address these challenges? Building peace is not the job of an individual or of a small elite, it is everyone’s job together. Here are some of the efforts required:
- People, groups and institutions must promote life by fostering human creativity.
- We must develop a new economic model. The current model of maximizing profit and consumption is based on an individualistic and selfish mindset.
- Individual workers and employers must establish bonds of fairness and reciprocity with their colleagues, workers, clients and consumers. They should engage in economic activity for the sake of the common good and experience this commitment as something transcending their self-interest.
- Governments need to articulate policies of industrial and agricultural development concerned with social progress and growth.
- International institutions must create ethical structures for currency, financial and commercial markets.
- With greater resolve than has hitherto been the case, the concern of peacemakers must also focus upon the food crisis, which is graver than the financial crisis.
- The family plays a decisive role in peacemaking. The family has a natural vocation to promote life: it accompanies individuals as they mature and it encourages mutual growth and enrichment through caring and sharing.
- Parents must take the lead in nurturing peace.
- Religious communities are involved in a special way in the task of education for peace.
- Cultural institutions, schools and universities have a special mission of peace.
A pedagogy for peacemakers
Peace requires that we love one another. This love does not come automatically. It must be learned. We must teach each other to love! We must teach each other to forgive.
This is a slow process, for it presupposes a spiritual evolution, an education in lofty values, a new vision of human history. Yet peace is possible! The pedagogy of peace implies activity, compassion, solidarity, courage and perseverance. Here I would recall the prayer asking God to make us instruments of his peace, to be able to bring his love wherever there is hatred, his mercy wherever there is hurt, and true faith wherever there is doubt. With this prayer I express my hope that all will be true peacemakers, so that the human city may grow in fraternal harmony, prosperity and peace.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2012
BENEDICTUS PP XVI