CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 November 2017

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Pope connects moral education with justice in World Day of Peace message

VATICAN (CWNews.com): In his annual message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI highlights the role that idealistic young people can play in building peace in the future, stressing the importance of education in realising this goal. 

“Young people today are frustrated by the injustices they see in the world,” the pope writes. They need guidance as they mobilise to remedy problems.

Pope Benedict stresses, “Today more than ever, we need authentic witnesses and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts.”

The World Day of Peace is observed each year on January 1. Pope Benedict will formally present his message to diplomats accredited to the Holy See. 

The full text of the message was released on December 16, at a news conference chaired by Peter Cardinal Kodwo Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Entitled Educating Young People in Justice and Peace, the message concentrates on the task of education for the upcoming generations. The pope emphasises moral education and warns against the dominance of relativism, particularly in education.

The papal message contains a strong argument for recognition of the natural law. He says, “Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself, but which he must obey.”

Pope Benedict continues, “Its voice calls him to love and to do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility for the good he does and the evil he commits. 

“Thus, the exercise of freedom is intimately linked to the natural moral law, which is universal in character, expresses the dignity of every person and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and duties: consequently, in the final analysis, it forms the basis for just and peaceful coexistence.

“The right use of freedom, then, is central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others.”

Pope Benedict calls parents the primary educators of their children, asking, “Where does true education in peace and justice take place?”

He then answers his own question, saying, “First of all, in the family, since parents are the first educators… The family is the first school in which we are trained in justice and peace.”

However, he notes that this is not simple. “We are living in a world where families and life itself, are constantly threatened and not infrequently fragmented,” while calling upon government leaders to give families the support they need.

The main thrust of the papal message, centres on the need to recognise moral law. The pope argues that respect for that moral law is a primary goal of any education, saying, “Man is a being who bears within his heart a thirst for the infinite, a thirst for truth—a truth which is not partial, but capable of explaining life’s meaning—since he was created in the image and likeness of God.”

Hence the first step in education is learning to recognise the creator’s image in man and consequently learning to have a profound respect for every human being.

“Education should prepare young people to live in freedom as adults,” Pope Benedict continues, saying that moral and religious education is crucial. “Only in relation to God does man come to understand also the meaning of human freedom.”

The pope draws a sharp contrast between proper education in morality and a secular approach, which he says tends to “detach the concept of justice from its transcendent roots. When education is oriented toward God, justice is seen in terms of moral law.”

The pope argues, “When the conscience speaks to man in a way that promotes peace, its voice calls him to love and to do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility for the good he does and the evil he commits.

“Thus, the exercise of freedom is intimately linked to the natural moral law, which is universal in character, expresses the dignity of every person and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and duties: consequently, in the final analysis, it forms the basis for just and peaceful coexistence.

“The right use of freedom, then, is central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others.”

Pope Benedict reminds us, “Peace is not merely the absence of war. Genuine peace is both a gift from God and a product of human endeavour. In order to be true peacemakers, we educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community.”

The pope draws a sharp contrast between proper education in morality and a secular approach, which he says tends to ‘detach the concept of justice from its transcendent roots. When education is oriented toward God, justice is seen in terms of moral law’

 

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