Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2020
Here is the text of Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, 2020, with the theme: “Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion.”
The text was presented today, Dec.12, 2019, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Holy See Press Office. As is annual tradition, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass, for the Feast Day, in St. Peter’s Basilica, for Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is patroness of the Americas.
ZENIT will provide to our readers as soon as possible, in English, the Holy Father’s homily. In the meantime, here is Pope Francis’ message for peace:
PEACE AS A JOURNEY OF HOPE:
DIALOGUE, RECONCILIATION AND ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION
1. Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial
Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. As a human attitude, our hope for peace is marked by an existential tension that makes it possible for the present, with all its difficulties, to be “lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey”. Hope is thus the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.
Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts that affect especially the poor and the vulnerable. Entire nations 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. Many are the innocent victims of painful humiliation and exclusion, sorrow and injustice, to say nothing of the trauma born of systematic attacks on their people and their loved ones.
The terrible trials of internal and international conflicts, often aggravated by ruthless acts of violence, have an enduring effect on the body and soul of humanity. Every war is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.
War, as we know, often begins with the inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of aggrandizement and domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other. War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war.
As I observed during my recent Apostolic Journey to Japan, our world is paradoxically marked by “a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue. Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation. They can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family of today and tomorrow”.
Every threatening situation feeds mistrust and leads people to withdraw into their own safety zone. Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace. Even nuclear deterrence can only produce the illusion of security.
We cannot claim to maintain stability in the world through the fear of annihilation, in a volatile situation, suspended on the brink of a nuclear abyss and enclosed behind walls of indifference. As a result, social and economic decisions are being made that lead to tragic situations where human beings and creation itself are discarded rather than protected and preserved. How, then, do we undertake a journey of peace and mutual respect? How do we break the unhealthy mentality of threats and fear? How do we break the current dynamic of distrust?
We need to pursue a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and mutual trust. The desire for peace lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this.