2013-10-03 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Blessed Pope John XXIII’s Cold War era Encyclical Pacem in Terris or “Peace on Earth,” remains “extremely contemporary” and can act as a guide to peace-building in today’s world. That’s what Pope Francis told participants of a three day Vatican conference celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 Encyclical Letter. Tracey McClure reports:
Experts from Catholic universities and institutions, and from the UN, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and the Organization of American States have gathered in Rome at the request of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to discuss the relevance of Pacem in Terris in the promotion today of a more peaceful world.
In his remarks Thursday, the second day of the conference, Pope Francis recalled John XXIII’s 1962 radio message calling for ‘peace, peace!’ as world powers came to the brink of nuclear war. And later, Blessed Pope John Paul II’s efforts at the time of the Iron Curtain which led to “an opening of spaces of freedom and dialogue.” John XXIII’s seeds of peace brought fruits, the Pope said, but despite “the fall of walls and barriers, the world continues to need peace” and Pacem in Terris remains extremely relevant.
The Encyclical, Pope Francis said, reminds us that the basis of peace-making exists in mankind’s “divine origin” and thus everyone, from individuals and families to society and States are called to “build peace, on the example of Jesus Christ… by promoting and practicing justice with truth and love…(and) contributing…to integral human development” through solidarity. And that means an end to “egotism, individualism, and group interests at every level.”
But has today’s world learned any lessons from Pacem in Terris? the Pope asked: “Are the words justice and solidarity” found “solely in our dictionary or are we all working to realize them?”
Pacem in Terris reminds us that “there can be no real peace and harmony if we fail to work for a more just” and jointly supportive society, the Pope said.
And if man, and indeed, society and authorities themselves share a common divine origin, then every human being shares a common dignity “to promote, respect and safeguard always.”
Priority national and international action, said the Pope, must work towards a world where everyone is able “to effectively access food, water, shelter , health care, education and (be given) the possibility to form and support a family.” Lasting peace for all depends on it.
It is not the Church’s job to indicate solutions to complex social issues which should be “left to free discussion,” Pope Francis said, noting that John XXIII’s call for peace in 1962 was an attempt to “orient the international debate” according to the virtues of “dialogue, listening, patience, respect of the other, sincerity and even an openness to reconsidering one’s own opinion.”
The Pope urged participants to seek guidance from Pacem in Terris as they discuss the challenges to peace today: what he described as an “educational emergency,” “the impact of the mass media on consciences, access to the earth’s resources,” the ethical use of biological research, “the arms race and national and international security measures.” The current world economic crisis, which the Pope called “a grave symptom of the disrespect for man and for truth with which Governments and citizens make decisions” is just another example of what needs to be fixed in an equitable way for lasting world peace to succeed.
Are we prepared to meet the challenge posed by Pacem in Terris? He wondered.
As if in answer to his own question, Pope Francis described the world economic crisis as “inhuman” and expressed his deep sorrow for the latest maritime tragedy off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa in which many refugees lost their lives. Calling today’s tragedy “shameful”, he asked everyone to renew “our efforts to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated.”