CWN - December 14, 2012
"Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible,” Pope Benedict XVI insists in his message for the 46th World Day of Peace.
The World Day of Peace is celebrated on January 1. The Pope’s message for the 2013 observance, entitled “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” was released by the Vatican on December 14.
In his message the Pope says that “the desire for peace is an essential aspiration” of all men. “Man is made for peace, which is God’s gift,” he writes, adding that “peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort.”
At a December 14 press conference to introduce the papal document, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, remarked that the topics covered in the wide-ranging papal message include “issues such as the correct vision of marriage, the right to conscientious objection, religious freedom, the issues of work and unemployment, the food crisis, the financial crisis, and the role of the family in education.”
The fundamental theme of the Pope’s message is that peace is imperiled by ideologies that fail to acknowledge the fundamental truths of human nature. He writes:
The precondition for peace is the dismantling of the dictatorship of relativism and of the supposition of a completely autonomous morality which precludes acknowledgement of the ineluctable natural moral law inscribed by God upon the conscience of every man and woman.
Throughout his message the Pope continually returns to this theme. He says: “The denial of what makes up the true nature of human beings in its essential dimensions, its intrinsic capacity to know the true and the good and, ultimately, to know God Himself, jeopardizes peacemaking.”
Among the primary examples of offenses against the truth about human nature, the Pope mentions abortion, euthanasia, and attempts to redefine marriage and the family.
Regarding abortion, the Pope states: “The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenseless and innocent being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace.” To underline the point he adds: “Every offense against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment.”
Pope Benedict continues:
There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
These truths about human nature, the Pope emphasized, are not merely beliefs of the Catholic Church. “They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity.”
Any government policies that violate the essential dignity of human nature are threats to peace, the Pope argues. The peace is even further undermined, he says, when governments fail to provide for “the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity, such as abortion and euthanasia.”
More generally, religious freedom is essential to a peaceful world, the Pope says. He laments the widespread violations of this freedom. “Sadly, even in countries of long-standing Christian tradition, instances of religious intolerance are becoming more numerous,” he observes.
Turning to problems arising from the global economy, the Pope says that peace is threatened by injustices and radical inequalities. These problems continue, he argues, because “ideologies of radical liberalism and technocracy are spreading 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.”
The Pope suggests that the global economic crisis could furnish an opportunity for a careful re-examination of the world’s financial system:
In order to emerge from the present financial and economic crisis – which has engendered ever greater inequalities – we need people, groups and institutions which will promote life by fostering human creativity, in order to draw from the crisis itself an opportunity for discernment and for a new economic model. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset, aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness.
Among the fundamental problems that should be addressed in a healthy world economy, the Pope highlights the right to work and the provision of adequate food supplies for all.
The Pope concludes his message by calling for a “pedagogy of peace,” which allows for educating young people especially in the virtues needed for peacemaking. This in turn requires a “pedagogy of pardon,” encouraging the forgiveness of past offenses, he says.