We then publish Pope Francis’ message on the occasion of World Day of Peace, transmitted on the 1st. January 2019.
“Good policy in the service of peace”
“Peace to this house”
Jesus, in sending his disciples on a mission, said to them, “When you enter a house, say first, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if there are people of peace there, your peace shall rest upon them; Other hand, he will return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).
Giving peace is at the heart of the mission of Christ’s disciples. And this offer is addressed to all men and women who await peace amid the tragedies and violence of human history.
The “house” mentioned by Jesus is every family, every community, every country, every continent, with its own characteristics and its history; it is above all every person, without distinction or discrimination. It is also our “common home”: the planet on which God has placed us to live and to which we are called to care with interest.
Therefore, this is also my wish at the beginning of the new year: “Peace to this house”.
The challenge of good policy
Peace is like the hope of which the poet Charles Péguy speaks; it’s like a fragile flower trying to blossom among the stones of violence. We know well that the pursuit of power at any cost leads to abuse and injustice. Politics is a fundamental vehicle for building human citizenship and activity, but when those engaged in it do not live it as a service to the human community, it can become an instrument of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.
Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be the first, may he be the last of all, and the servant of all” (Mk 9:35). As Pope Paul VI stressed: “To take politics seriously at its various levels – local, regional, national and global – is to affirm the duty of every person, of every person, to know what is the content and value of the option presented to him and according to which he seeks to collectively realize the good of the city, of the nation , of humanity”.
Indeed, political role and responsibility are a permanent challenge for all who are mandated to serve their country, to protect those who live there, and to work to create the conditions for a dignified and just future. Politics, if carried out in the fundamental respect for people’s lives, freedom and dignity, can truly become an eminent form of charity.
Charity and human virtues for a policy
in the service of human rights and peace
Pope Benedict XVI recalled that “every Christian is called to this charity, according to his vocation and his chances of influencing the polylis. […] The commitment to the common good, when inspired by charity, has a higher value than merely secular and political commitment. […] Man’s action on earth, when inspired and supported by charity, contributes to the building up of that universal city of God to which the history of the human family advances.”
It is a program with which all politicians, of any cultural or religious background who wish to work together for the good of the human family, can agree with, practicing those human virtues that are the basis of good political action: justice, equity, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.
In this regard, it is worth recalling the “beatitudes of the politician”, proposed by the Vietnamese Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguy-n V. Thuan, who died in 2002, and who was a faithful witness of the Gospel:
Blessed is the politician who has a high regard and a deep awareness of his role.
Blessed is the politician whose person reflects credibility.
Blessed is the politician who works for the common good and not for his own interest.
Blessed is the politician who remains faithfully coherent.
Blessed is the politician who performs unity.
Blessed is the politician who is committed to radical change.
Blessed is the politician who can listen.
Blessed is the politician who is not afraid.
Every renewal of elective functions, every election event, every stage of public life is an opportunity to return to the source and benchmarks that inspire justice and law. We are convinced that good politics is at the service of peace; respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are equally reciprocal duties, so that a bond of trust and gratitude is created between present and future generations.
- The vices of politics
In politics, unfortunately, vices are not lacking alongside virtues, due to both personal ineptitude and distortions in the environment and institutions. It is clear to all that the vices of political life detract from the systems in which it is exercised, as well as to the authority, decisions and actions of the people who engage in it.
These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, are the shame of public life and endanger social peace: corruption – in its many forms of misappropriation of public goods or exploitation of people – denial of law, non-compliance with Community rules, illegal enrichment, justification of power by force or under arbitrary pretext of “reason of state” , the tendency to perpetuate in power, xenophobia and racism, rejection of the care of the Earth, unlimited exploitation of natural resources for immediate benefit, contempt for those who have been forced into exile.
- Good policy promotes participation
of young people and trust in the other
When the exercise of political power aims only to protect the interests of certain privileged individuals, the future is in danger and young people may be tempted by mistrust, because they are condemned to be left out of society, without the possibility of participating in a project for the future.
On the other hand, when politics translates, in particular, into an encouragement of young talents and vocations that want to be realized, peace spreads in consciences and faces. You come to a dynamic trust, which means “I trust you and believe with you” in the possibility of working together for the common good.
Politics favors peace if it is carried out, therefore, recognizing the charisms and capacities of each person. “Is there anything more beautiful than a lying hand? This has been loved by God to give and receive. God did not want her to kill (cf. Gen 4.1 and ss.) or make her suffer, but to take care of and help her live. Together with the heart and mind, the hand can also become an instrument of dialogue.”
Each can contribute its own stone for the construction of the common house. Authentic political life, founded on law and a loyal dialogue between the protagonists, is renewed with the conviction that every woman, every man and every generation holds in themselves a promise that can liberate new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies.
Such trust is never easy to realize because human relationships are complex. In particular, we live in these times in a climate of mistrust that takes its roots in fear of the other or stranger, in the anxiety of losing personal benefits and, unfortunately, manifests itself also on a political level, through closing attitudes or nationalisms that call into question the fraternity that our globalized world so desperately needs.
Today more than ever, our societies need “craftsmen of peace” who can be true messengers and witnesses of God the Father who wants the good and happiness of the human family.
- No to war, not to the strategy of fear
One hundred years after the end of World War I, and with the memory of fallen youth during those fighting and devastated civilian populations, we know better than ever the terrible teaching of fratricidal wars, that is, peace can never be reduced to the simple balance of strength and fear.
Keeping the other under threat means reducing it to object status and denying it dignity. That is why we reaffirm that increased intimidation, as well as uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, are contrary to morality and the pursuit of true harmony. The terror exerted on the most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations in search of a land of peace.
Political discourses that tend to blame migrants for all evils and deprive the poor of hope are not acceptable. On the other hand, it should be emphasized that peace is based on the respect of each person, regardless of their history, respect for the law and the common good, the creation entrusted to us and the moral wealth transmitted by past generations.
Likewise, our thinking is addressed in a particular way to children living in conflict zones, and to all those who strive to ensure that their lives and rights are protected. In the world, one in six children suffer from the violence of war and its consequences, and is even recruited to become a soldier or hostage of armed groups. The witness of those who are committed to the defence of the dignity and respect of children is extremely precious for the future of humanity.
- A great peace project
We celebrate these days the seventy years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted after the second global conflict. We recall in this regard pope John XXIII’s observation: “When the awareness of one’s rights arises in a man, it is necessary that the awareness of one’s own obligations also arise; so that he who holds certain rights also has, as an expression of his dignity, the obligation to demand them, while others have a duty to recognize and respect them.”
Peace, in fact, is the result of a great political project that is based on the reciprocal responsibility and interdependence of human beings, but it is also a challenge that demands to be welcomed day after day. Peace is a conversion of the heart and soul, and it is easy to recognize three inseparable dimensions of this inner and communal peace:
peace with ourselves, rejecting intransigence, anger, impatience and – as St Francis de Sales advised – having “a little sweetness with himself”, to offer “a little sweetness to others”;
peace with the other, the family member, the friend, the foreigner, the poor, the suffering…, daring to meet and listening to the message he carries with him; peace with creation, rediscovering the greatness of God’s gift and the part of responsibility that corresponds to each of us, as inhabitants of the world, citizens and architects of the future.
The politics of peace – which knows well and takes charge of human frailties – can always draw on the spirit of the Magnificat that Mary, Mother of Christ the Savior and Queen of Peace, sings on behalf of all men: “His mercy reaches his faithful from generation to generation. He feats with his arm: scatter the proud of heart, take down the mighty from the throne, and start the humble; […] remembering mercy as he had promised our parents for Abraham and his offspring forever” (Lk 1:50-55). Ω