Pope Francis believes that every individual can contribute to building peace. In his 2022 message for the World Day of Peace on 1st January, Pope Francis says that in every age, peace is both a gift from on high and the fruit of a shared commitment. Indeed, we can speak of an “architecture” of peace, to which different institutions of society contribute, and an “art” of peace that directly involves each one of us. Francis says, “all can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.”
Francis calls for a decrease in military spending, greater investment in education, and care for the environment. “The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for health care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth,” he says.
He laments that despite numerous efforts aimed at fostering the conditions for peace, “the deafening noise of war and conflict is intensifying.” He warns that, “diseases of pandemic proportions are spreading, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are worsening, the tragedy of hunger and thirst is increasing, and an economic model based on individualism rather than on solidary sharing continues to prevail.” The cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth constantly make themselves heard, pleading for justice and peace.
Francis acknowledges the myriad of ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted human relationships, economic opportunities and exacerbated inequalities. He urges intergenerational dialogue to facilitate greater understanding between different generations. “Great social challenges and peace processes necessarily call for dialogue between the keepers of memory – the elderly – and those who move history forward – the young,” the pope continued.
Education must be viewed as an investment, rather than an expenditure, which, Francis feels, is vital for “promoting integral human development.” Such investments, he says, “make individuals more free and responsible and they are essential for the defence and promotion of peace.” He suggests that the environment, “is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”. In his view, we ought to esteem and encourage young people to work for a world that is careful to safeguard the creation entrusted to our stewardship.
In his message to parishes for Peace Sunday on 16th January in England and Wales, the Pax Christi National President, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, acknowledges that the past year has been one of unprecedented and continuing challenges. “We are all conscious of the need to restore and rebuild our communities here and around the world, accepting that we need new ways of working and relating to each other, he says. He urges practical support of Pax Christi’s peace work, saying, “the Christian message of peace, through reconciliation, justice and nonviolence, can offer hope and direction in these times.”
A Prayer from Pope Francis
The peace Jesus gives us is a peace for today and for the future.
May the Lord give us this peace:
Full of hope,
That makes us fruitful,
That make us communicative with others,
That creates community,
And that always looks to the definitive peace of Paradise.