Pope Francis’ message for World Peace Day, held annually on Jan. 1, focuses on dialogue, education and work as tools for building lasting peace (www.vatican.va)
The message for January 1, 2022 begins with a quote from the prophet Isaiah: “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of the messenger of joy who reports peace” (Isaiah 52:7). However, peace as an integral development remains a distant dream for many.
The cry of the poor and of the earth for justice and peace continues to sound unabated in our world.
Therefore, there is a need for a real peace plan and also for instruments in which everyone can participate to build peace.
A first instrument for building a lasting peace, according to Pope Francis, is intergenerational dialogue. In the difficult situation of the pandemic, the choice of dialogue is indispensable against the temptation to selfish indifference or destructive violence.
Dialogue is listening, exchanging views, coming to an agreement and then moving forward together.
Young people need the experience and wisdom of the older generations. Older people need the support, appreciation, creativity and dynamism of the young. Some are the keepers of memory, others help to build history.
New dreams and new hopes can be born and grow in this way.
The wounds of the past can also be healed. Being rooted in the past and open to the future are both indispensable to preserve the creation entrusted to us, to realize new common projects and to bring about peace.
A second important tool for peace is education, formation and teaching. They give us the language to engage in intergenerational dialogue. They also contribute to the integral development of mankind, to freedom and a sense of responsibility. However, the budgets for education, training and education have recently been significantly reduced at a global level, while military expenditure continues to rise dramatically.
A real turnaround is urgently needed, says Pope Francis.
International disarmament is a necessity. Constructive dialogue between the many precious cultural components present in a country is also indispensable for building a healthy society. Pope Francis argues here for a broad-based educational pact with all social actors. Only in this way will education with a view to an integral ecology become possible. In such a pact there also has to be room for peace building, sustainable development and fraternal living together.
As a third indispensable factor for building peace, Pope Francis mentions the possibility of work.
Participating in the labor process helps to develop one’s own gifts and qualities. It contributes to a more beautiful and liveable world. However, because of the pandemic, many economic activities were lost. Many workers now have an even harder time than before. Pope Francis is thinking especially of the younger generation and the many who lived on an informal economy. Also many migrants are not recognized and have to continue living “as if they did not exist.”
One third of the world’s working population also has no access to a system of social protection.
Decent work is part of a meaningful life on earth. Decent work in respect of fundamental human rights also contributes to the common good and to the wholeness of creation. It is the task of politicians to strive for the right balance between economic freedom and social justice. All those who are active in this field find in the Church’s Social Teaching clear and firm orientations, the pope added.
At the end of his message of peace for Jan. 1, 2022, Pope Francis thanks all those who, in the midst of the current pandemic, are doing everything possible to keep health care afloat and close to the sick. Francis hopes that many will continue to build the so precious peace with God’s blessing and with perseverance.
Summary by Jo Hanssens, staff member Peace Spirituality, Pax Christi Flanders-Belgium