In Pope Francis’ first World Day of Peace message which was released yesterday, the Holy Father reflected upon fraternity as the foundation and pathway to peace.
The Pope’s message for the 47th World Day of Peace, which will be celebrated on January 1, 2014, deals with what the pope calls “the irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.”
It is the lack of fraternity that leads to poverty and economic disparities, he writes, and affirms that this love for neighbor “generates social peace because it creates a balance between freedom and justice, between personal responsibility and solidarity, between the good of individuals and the common good.”
The same rules apply to governments, he said, calling upon political communities to “act in a transparent and responsible ways to favor all this. Citizens must feel themselves represented by the public authorities in respect for their freedom.”
While introducing the message yesterday, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. read a letter explaining the message from Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, who was still in Johannesburg as the Pope’s special envoy to the funeral service in honor of Nelson Mandela.
In his letter, Cardinal Turkson reminded that the first crime was fratricide. “Every taking of an innocent life – whether it is called abortion, murder, or euthanasia –whether it is called crime or starvation or war – is, in fact, fratricide, is it not? How can we fail to recognize that we are brothers and sisters, since we all have the same Father? How can we fail to recognize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our brother? By His Cross and Resurrection, He repaired a broken humanity and continually offers everyone the promise of salvation.
“In this Message, the Holy Father asks why there is such a deficit of fraternity in today’s world. Has selfishness blinded us to our fundamental fraternity? Have fear and competitiveness poisoned our incomparable dignity as sons and daughters of God, thus brothers and sisters to each other?”
Cardinal Turkson goes on to say that three days after his election, the Pope met with the media to explain his choice of a name.
“I thought of Francis of Assisi,” the pope said at the time. “For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”
Thus, in his first New Year’s message, “the Holy Father elaborates on the poor, on peace, and on creation, under the inclusive and meaningful heading of fraternity,” Cardinal Turkson said.
Sections of the message are devoted to discussing how the economy can offer real remedies to poverty and to how the world can reduce and eliminate war as well as corruption and organized crime.
“Fraternity overcomes the indifference with which we observe the many wars at a safe distance,” Cardinal Turkson said. “It overcomes the tendency to dehumanize and demonize the enemy. It motivates the hard work needed to accomplish non-proliferation and disarmament, including nuclear, chemical, conventional and unmanned weapons, as well as small arms. When it comes to social conflict, fraternity resists corruption, organized crime, and the drug trade; slavery, human trafficking and prostitution; and those forms of economic and financial ‘warfare’ which are ‘destructive of lives, families and businesses’”.
A section of the message also calls for the preservation of nature. “In the spirit of fraternity, we must learn to treat the natural environment as a gift from our Creator, to be enjoyed in common, gratefully and justly,” the Cardinal said.
“As we prepare to celebrate Christmas by offering gifts among friends and relations, it would be good to pause, as Jesus suggests”, he concluded, “’If you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift’.
“Today the poor, the excluded, the suffering of our city, of our country, of our world, do have ‘something against us’. What they have ‘against us’ is our failure to respect who, most profoundly, they are – who, most profoundly, we are – namely, brothers and sisters”.
Click here to read the Pope’s message in full.
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