“The grace of God our Father is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received His forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking
that can make us artisans of justice and peace”.
– Pope Francis
Pope Francis’ Message for the 53rd World Day of Peace, published on December 12, describes peace as a journey of hope to be undertaken in a spirit of dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion.
The Holy Father says that hope puts us on the path to peace, while “mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence.” He urges us to be artisans of peace, open to dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation, on a journey of ecological conversion that leads to a “new way of looking at life.”
Peace, Pope Francis says, is “a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family.”
In contrast, the scars of war, carried in “the memory and in the flesh” of humanity, “affect especially the poor and the vulnerable,” perpetrating humiliation and exclusion, sorrow and injustice.
“Entire nations”, he says, “find it difficult to break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence. Even today, dignity, physical integrity, freedom, including religious freedom, communal solidarity and hope in the future are denied to great numbers of men and women, young and old.”
“Every war,” the Pope says, “is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.”
The desire for peace, he says, “lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this.”
In his message, Pope Francis recalls his meeting with the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who still bear witness to the horror of the past in order “to ensure and build a more fair and fraternal future”. “Memory,” he says, is “the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace.”
The Holy Father concludes his message by reminding us that peace is something that must be continually nurtured and that it is “a journey to be made together in constant pursuit of the common good.”
“The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation… we cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions,” to the point even of “seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.”
Recalling Laudato sì’, the Pope invokes an ecological conversion as a constructive and just response to “the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself.”
He Holy Father stated that the ecological conversion “for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to share it in joy and moderation. He says that for Christians, it requires that “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”
In the last chapter of his Message, the Pope says “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for.”
His invitation is to overcome fears that are at the roots of conflict, to promote a culture of encounter, to give life to universal fraternity, as we tread a Christian path sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, which “requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation”.
“The grace of God our Father,” Pope Francis concludes, “is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received His forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace”.
To read the full Message of Pope Francis for the 53rd World Day of Peace please click here.