Peace as a path of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion

On December 12, 2019, at 11.30 a.m., the press conference of the Holy Father’s Message for the 53rd World Day of Peace was held at the Press Office of the Holy See, to be held on 1 January 2020. It is divided into five points.

Way of hope

The first of these is called «Peace, the path of hope in the face of obstacles and evidence». In it, Francisco emphasizes that humanity carries with it «the signs of wars and conflicts that have occurred, with a growing destructive capacity, and that do not cease to affect especially the poorest and the weakest».

Referring to his recent visit to Japan and his call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis emphasizes that «peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation».

The memory of the past for a future of peace

Pope Francis describes memory as the horizon of hope: «Many times, in the darkness of wars and conflicts, the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions.  It can unleash new energies and kindle new hope in individuals and communities».

Recalling his moving meeting with the Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who still bear witness to the horror of the past in order to ensure and build a more fair and fraternal future, the Pope describes memory as «the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace».

Artisans of peace

 Peace is something that must be built up continually, and that it is a journey to be made together in constant pursuit of the common good. «The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation», he says. In fact, he elaborates, «we cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions», to the point even of «seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister». The peace process, he explains, requires patience, commitment and creativity.  It must be built, step by step, opening the way to a shared hope that is stronger than the desire for vengeance.

Ecological conversion

 Recalling his Encyclical Letter, «Laudato sì», the Pope invokes an ecological conversion as a constructive and just response to “the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself.”

He says the journey undertaken by the recent Synod on the Amazon moves us to commit to the renewal of  «a peaceful relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, between experience and hope».

We obtain all that we hope for

In the last chapter of his Message, the Pope says «The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for». He stresses that it is necessary to believe in the possibility of peace, inspired by God’s love for each one of us, that is «liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless». His invitation is to overcome fears that are at the roots of conflict, to promote a culture of encounter, to give life to universal fraternity, as we tread a Christian path sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, which «requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbors or against God’s creation».

«The grace of God our Father» -Pope Francis concludes, «is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received His forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace».

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