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Pope calls for a pedagogy for peace-making

VATICAN (SE): In his message for the Forty-Sixth World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI cites with alarm what he calls hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by the ever-growing gap between rich and poor.

He laments what he calls the selfish and individualistic mindset which finds its expression in unregulated financial capitalism, of which he says in addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, endanger peace and distort the true nature of religion.

However, the pope points out that not all is doom and gloom, as strong signs of hope are present in the form of the many peacemakers that can be found in the midst of every trouble spot in the world.

“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,” the pope writes.

He adds that we should look for our basic inspiration in the words of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God.”

He points out that the blessedness spoken of in the Beatitudes is not something to be anticipated in the next life, but to be achieved right here and now on earth.

“Rather, the blessedness of which the beatitudes speak consists in the fulfillment of a promise made to all those who allow themselves to be guided by the requirements of truth, justice and love,” Pope Benedict states.

He adds that although the world tends to scoff at the promises made by God, Jesus is saying that it is possible to discover that we are children of God in this life and that we are not alone, as the Son of God offered himself in sacrifice that people may enjoy the great gift of peace, justice and well-being in this life as well as in the next.

“Jesus’ beatitude tells us peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort. In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence,” the pope continues.

He calls the ethics of peace the ethics of sharing and fellowship. As a result, he says that it is absolutely necessary that various cultures of profit and ethics based on technical and practical suppositions, which are at best subjective anyway, be replaced by a culture of education towards a morality that places the well-being of people at the centre.

The pope says that fundamental to the attainment of peace is the recognition that all of humankind make up one human family.

“The attainment of peace depends above all on recognising that we are, in God, one human family… which entails an internal and external moral order in which, in accordance with truth and justice, reciprocal rights and mutual duties are sincerely recognised,” the bishop of Rome says.

“Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love, in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others and work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values. It is an order achieved in freedom, that is, in a way consistent with the dignity of persons who, by their very nature as rational beings, take responsibility for their own actions,” he continues.

The pope adds that every individual, organisation, whether religious or civic, has a moral obligation to work for peace.

He calls it keeping your eye on the common good and using it as a yardstick to judge whether any action or policy is designed for good or the merely preservation of privilege for a small, elite group.

He adds that many policies promoted in the world today are seeking at best a false peace. He names abortion, the breakdown of family structure, euthanasia and the suppression of religious affiliation and freedom as being destructive of peace, rather than contributing to it as some people claim.

“These principles (of Church teaching) are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not, therefore, confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation,” he says.

He adds that to deny any of these is an offence against the truth of the human person, doing serious harm to justice and, consequently, peace in the world.

The pope adds that as armed resistance and suppression is being taken up more and more in the world as a solution to conflict, the presence of the conscientious objector is becoming a stronger witness to peace, and all peace-loving countries should have legislation to protect their rights.

Pope Benedict highlights in his message the need for a new model of development, as the current push for more and more liberalisation leaves the social obligations of the state playing second fiddle to production and consumption, resulting in basic rights, like the right to work, being eroded.

However, he stresses that for humankind to move forward, a new pedagogy of peace is needed. He says that people need to be taught how to be peace-makers, how to cultivate peace and live with good rather than mere tolerance.

“In this prayer,” the pope concludes, “I express my hope that all will be true peace-makers, so that the city of man may grow in fraternal harmony, prosperity and peace.”

World Peace Day is to be celebrated in January next year and the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, has asked that it be observed in every parish of the diocese.

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