Pope on World day of Peace 2013: “Blessed are the Peacemakers”
(Vatican Radio) The Catholic Church marks the World Day of Peace each January 1st. In his 2013 message for the day, entitled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” Pope Benedict XVI says peace is possible in today’s world but everyone must work together as a family to achieve it.
The papal message was presented to journalists at a December press conference in the Vatican by the president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council. As Philippa Hitchen reports, the message looks at both the theological and practical foundations for promoting justice and peace in today’s world:
From defence of human life to food insecurity, from religious freedom to economic development. This message for World Peace Day on January 1st 2013 is a far reaching reflection on the need to establish right relationships between people and recognise that, in God, we are one human family’
Peace, Pope Benedict insists, is not a naïve, utopian dream, but rather it reflects the deepest longing of the human heart. While we must work hard to build a new world order based on truth, freedom, love and justice, as Pope John XXIII wrote in 'Pacem in Terris' half a century ago, we must also recognise that true peace is also a gift from God. Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council:
"There are so many efforts, so many initiatives, to bring peace in the world, but establishing divine coordinates for peace invites us to consider that it's not just what we, with our human energies, can do.....
The message does spell out many practical concerns including a looming food crisis, the need for new models of development and financial practise based on people, not just profits, and the right to work as a fundamental good for individuals, families and societies.
There’s also a strong focus on defending the right to life, upholding traditional family values and the need for religious freedom - including conscientious objection to laws or practices which undermine the Church’s teaching and beliefs. Cardinal Turkson again:
"So I would encourage people to more away from the tendency to divide social doctrine or social engagement from faith, as if the two don't belong together - but what is faith if it is not the transformation of the here and now......
Pope Benedict concludes his message with a call for 'a pedagogy of peace' based on pardon and reconciliation. Quoting the prayer, often attributed to St Francis of Assisi, the Pope asks God to make us instrument of His peace, bringing love, mercy and peace wherever there is hatred, hurt or doubt.
Below please find the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Day of Peace 2013:
Blessed are the Peacemakers
1. EACH NEW YEAR brings the expectation of a better world. In light of this, I ask God, the Father of humanity, to grant us concord and peace, so that the aspirations of all for a happy and prosperous life may be achieved.
Fifty years after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which helped to strengthen the Church’s mission in the world, it is heartening to realize that Christians, as the People of God in fellowship with him and sojourning among mankind, are committed within history to sharing humanity’s joys and hopes, grief and anguish, as they proclaim the salvation of Christ and promote peace for all.
In effect, our times, marked by globalization with its positive and negative aspects, as well as the continuation of violent conflicts and threats of war, demand a new, shared commitment in pursuit of the common good and the development of all men, and of the whole man.
It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people.
All the same, the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift.
All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).....