Pope Benedict: 2012 Peace Message focus on Youth

2011-12-16 Vatican Radio

Message of His Holiness POPE BENEDICT XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2012


Précis from Vatican Radio

The Message, on EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE IN JUSTICE AND PEACE, is addressed especially to parents, families and all those involved in the area of education and formation, as well as to leaders in the various spheres of religious, social, political, economic and cultural life and in the media. The Message begins with an introductory paragraph (1) and is organized into 4 subsequent paragraphs (2-6), each of which has its own heading: (2) Educators; (3) Educating in truth and freedom; (4) Educating in justice; (5) Educating in peace; (6) Lifting one’s eyes to God.

The main points of the Message are:

1. Education is both a right (universal and unqualified with respect to persons’ sex, religion or social standing), and a duty (of parents, of societies and of those who receive education).

• Real, authentic education is “education in truth and freedom”, the source of which is God. This includes, essentially, education in the right use of freedom, which is, “central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one’s own. (Para 3: Educating in truth and freedom)”

• Parents are the first educators: the family is the “first school” of education in justice and peace. (Para 2: Educators). Those in charge of educational institutions have a duty to ensure that children are able to receive an education consonant with their families’ consciences and principles. (ibid.)

• Political leaders must work to guarantee access to education, to support families and institutions in the mission of education, and to ensure that families be able to choose the educational structures they consider most suitable for their children. (ibid.)

2. Justice is neither merely, nor even primarily a human convention: what is just is ultimately determined by the truth of the human being – it is the integral vision of man that saves us from falling into a contractual conception of justice and enables us to locate justice within the horizon of solidarity and love. (Para 4: Educating in justice)

3. Peace is both divine gift and human task/responsibility:

•“We Christians believe that Christ is our true peace: in him, by his Cross, God has reconciled the world to himself and has broken down the walls of division that separated us from one another (cf. Eph 2:14-18); in him, there is but one family, reconciled in love.” (Para 5: Educating in peace).

• “In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, to being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution.” (ibid.)

• “Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice, according to one’s particular areas of competence and responsibility.” (ibid.) The Message also contains, at the end of Para 2 (addressed to educators), appeals to the world of the media, and to young people themselves.

• To media: “In today’s society the mass media have a particular role: they not only inform but also form the minds of their audiences, and so they can make a significant contribution to the education of young people. It is important never to forget that the connection between education and communication is extremely close: education takes place through communication, which influences, for better or worse, the formation of the person.”

• To young people: “Young people too need to have the courage to live by the same high standards that they set for others. Theirs is a great responsibility: may find the strength to make good and wise use of their freedom. They too are responsible for their education, including their education to justice and peace!”.

The Message concludes with an exhortation under the heading: Raising one’s eyes to God, in which Pope Benedict calls on everyone, and young people especially, not to give in to discouragement, nor to seek easy solutions to difficult problems. “Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm.” (Para 6: Raising one’s eyes to God)