Peace

Peace - Pope Francis    


St John said that anyone who expresses resentment or hatred for his brother or sister is in fact a murderer at heart. There is a need to enter into the logic of perfecting or reviewing our conduct. Of course, this calls to mind the subject of discrediting our brother or sister, starting with our inner passions. In practice this is motivation for insult. Furthermore, recourse to marvellously imaginative insults is widespread in the Latin tradition, for we invent one insult after another.

As long as the epithet is friendly let it go. However the problem arises when there is another epithet that veers towards the offensive. We then go and qualify it with a series of definitions that are not exactly evangelical. Verbal abuse, is a way of taking people down a peg. 

There is no need to go to a psychiatrist to know that when people do someone else down it is because they themselves are unable to develop and need to feel that the other is less important in order for them to feel that they count. What Jesus simply said was quite the opposite the: “do not speak badly of others, do not
belittle them, do not discredit them; basically we are all walking on the same path”.

With regard to insulting, Jesus is even more radical and goes much further. For he says that when you begin to feel something negative in your heart against one of your brethren and express it with an insult, a
curse or an outburst of anger, something is wrong. You must convert, you must change.

The Apostle James who says that “ships are guided by a rudder and people are guided by their tongue”. So if someone “is unable to control his tongue, he or she is lost”. This is man’s weakness. 

Cain’s natural aggression towards his brother has been repeated in the course of history. It is not that we are wicked; we are weak and sinful. This explains why it is far easier to solve a situation with an insult, with
slander, with mud-slinging, rather than with kind words, as Jesus says. 

Ask the Lord for the grace for all to be a little more careful with their tongue regarding what we say of others. This is without a doubt a small penance, but it yields good fruits. It is true that it demands sacrifice and effort, since it is far easier to enjoy the fruit of a racy comment against another. In the long run this hunger is rewarding and does us good. Hence our need to ask the Lord for the grace to conform our life to this new law, which is the law of
docility, the law of love, the law of peace. We must start by pruning our language a little, by cutting back a bit our comments about others or the explosions that lead us to insulting them and flaring up in anger.



Pope Francis      25.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Genesis 13: 2, 5-18

The way to
peace in the Middle East is indicated in the “wisdom” of Abraham, the father of the faith shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Gen 13:2, 5-18 When I read this I think of the Middle East and insistently implore the Lord to give wisdom to us all”, so “let us not quarrel — you here and I there — over peace. Abraham also reminds us that no one is Christian by accident for God calls us by name and with a promise.
 
There is a promise at the origin of the history of Abraham who is willing to leave his land “to go he knew not where, but wherever the Lord told him”. Looking back at his vicissitudes, the journey to Egypt and the conflict and then peace with Lot on the issue of land. “Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are”, everywhere, it is all yours, “it will all be yours and belong to your descendants for ever”. 

Abraham left his land with a promise. His entire journey was oriented by this promise, and his itinerary is also a model of our own journey. God called Abraham, a person, and from this person he made a people. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, in the Creation, we can find that God created the stars, he created the plants, he created the animals. All in the plural. But he created man: in the singular. Because he created us in his image and likeness.
 
We Christians are called in the singular. None of us is Christian purely by chance. No one. There is a call to you, to you, to you. It is a call with a name, with a promise: Go ahead, I am with you, I am walking beside you. This is also known to Jesus who in the most difficult moments turns to the Father. Then likewise when Jesus parts from us on the day of the Ascension, he says that beautiful word to us: ‘I will be with you always to the close of the age’, beside you, next to you... for ever'.

Abraham, in this passage of Scripture, is anointed father for the first time, father of the people, let us think too of our anointing in Baptism and think of our Christian life. And to those who say “Father, but I am a sinner!” We are all sinners. The important thing is to move ahead with the Lord. The Lord is with us, the Lord has chosen us and never abandons us. This Christian certainty will do us good.



Pope Francis   01.09.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome      22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Hello!

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII,
Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!




Pope Francis       07.09.13  Vigil prayer for Peace    Genesis 1:12,18,21,25        Genesis 3: 10     Genesis 4:9

“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12, 18, 21, 25). The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: “It is good”. This, dear brothers and sisters, allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message.

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/peace/07.09.13.jpg

We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?

1. It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”. All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation. God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

2. But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war”. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.

When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict. This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid (cf. Gen 3: 10), he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (cf. v. 12); he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to “disharmony”? No, there is no such thing as “disharmony”; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear ....

It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill. What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us! And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!

After the chaos of the flood, when it stopped raining, a rainbow appeared and the dove returned with an olive branch. Today, I think also of that olive tree which representatives of various religions planted in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires in 2000, asking that there be no more chaos, asking that there be no more war, asking for peace.

3. And at this point I ask myself: Is it possible to walk the path of peace? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow – I think of the children: look upon these… look at the sorrow of your brother, stay your hand and do not add to it, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter! May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! ... war never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965). “Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975). Brothers and Sisters, forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray this evening for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! So may it be.



Pope Francis           21.09.14  Holy Mass, Mother Teresa Square, Tirana, Albania           Luke 10: 1-9, 17-20

Pope Francis Holy Mass Mother Teresa Square, Tirana, Albania  21.09.14

The Gospel we have just heard tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:1-9, 17-20). He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity. To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission. The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”. It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace. Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country! Peace!

In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples. Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them. In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom. Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel. In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, laity, and clerics and ministers of other religions paid for their fidelity with their lives. Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking. How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken! I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance. The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel, as we heard in the First Reading. The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society. Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all. Today, I have come to thank you for your witness and also to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts. Never forget the eagle! The eagle does not forget its nest, but flies into the heights. All of you, fly into the heights! Go high! I have also come to involve the young generations; to nourish you assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ, to the Gospel, to an encounter with God, to an encounter with one another, as you are already doing and by which you witness to the whole of Europe.

In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities, which are activities of service, and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society. In particular, I extend an invitation to the young, of whom there were so many along the way from the airport to here. This is a young people, very young! And where there is youth, there is hope. Listen to God, worship him and love one another as a people, as brothers and sisters.

To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel. Do not forget the nest, your long history, or your trials. Do not forget the wounds, but also do not be vengeful. Go forward to work with hope for a great future. So many of the sons and daughters of Albania have suffered, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and, above all, of peace. Amen.



Pope Francis       01.01.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square         Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 48th World Peace Day Year B       Galatians 4: 4-7

Pope Francis  Angelus  World Peace Day  01.01.2015


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and Happy New Year!

On this first day of the year, in the joyful — albeit cold — atmosphere of Christmas the Church invites us to fix our gaze of faith and of love on the Mother of Jesus. In her, the humble woman of Nazareth, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). Because of this it is impossible to separate contemplating Jesus, the Word of life who has become visible and tangible (cf. 1 Jn 1:1), from contemplating Mary, who has given Him her love and his human flesh.

Today we hear the words of the Apostle Paul: “God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4:4). That “born of woman” speaks in an essential manner, and for this reason, even more strongly expresses the true humanity of the Son of God. As a Father of the Church, St Athanasius affirms: “Our Saviour was truly man, and from that comes the salvation of all humanity” (Letter to Epictetus: PG26).

But St Paul also adds “born under the law” (Gal 4:4). With this expression he emphasizes that Christ has taken up the human condition, freeing it from the closed, legalistic mentality. In fact, the law deprived of grace becomes an insupportable yoke, and instead of being good for us it is bad for us. Jesus said: the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. This, then, is the end for which God sent his Son to earth to become man: a finality of liberation; indeed, of regeneration. Of liberation, “to redeem those who were under the law” (v. 5); and the redemption occurred with the death of Christ on the Cross. But especially of regeneration: “so that we might receive adoption as sons” (v. 5). Incorporated in Him, men and women really become children of God. This amazing transition takes place in us with Baptism, which grafts us into Christ as living members, and integrates us into the Church.

At the beginning of a new year, it is good to remember the day of our Baptism: we rediscover the gift received in that Sacrament which has regenerated us to new life — the divine life. And this through Mother Church, which has Mother Mary as a model. Thanks to Baptism we were introduced into communion with God and we are no longer at the mercy of evil and sin, but [rather] we receive the love, the tenderness, the mercy of the heavenly Father. I ask you once again: Who among you remember the day on which you were baptised? For those who don’t remember the date of their Baptism, I assign some homework: go find that day and cherish it in your heart. You can even ask your parents for help, godfather, godmother, uncles or aunts, grandparents.... The day on which we were baptised is a feast day! Remember it or go seek it out, the date of your baptism; it will be very beautiful to thank God for the gift of Baptism.

This closeness of God to our existence gives us true peace, the divine gift that we want especially to implore today, the World Day of Peace. I read there: “Peace is always possible”. Always, peace is possible! We have to seek it.... And over there I read: “Prayer at the root of peace”. Prayer is the very root of peace. Peace is always possible and our prayer is at the root of peace. Prayer disseminates peace. Today is the World Day of Peace, “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters”: this is the Message of this Day. Because war always makes slaves of us! It is a message that involves all of us. We are all called to combat every form of slavery and to build fraternity — all of us, each one according to his or her own responsibility. Remember well: peace is possible! And at the root of peace, there is always prayer. Let us pray for peace. There are also good schools of peace, schools for peace: we must go forward with this education of peace.

To Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, let us present our good intentions. We ask you to extend the mantle of your maternal protection over each and every one of us in the new year: “O Holy Mother of God despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin” (Sub tuum praesidium).

And I invite you all to greet Our Lady as the Mother of God, hail her with this salute: “Holy Mother of God!”. As she was acclaimed, at the start of Christianity, when at the entrance of the Church they would cry out to their pastors this salute to Our Lady: “Holy Mother of God!”. All together, three times, let us repeat: “Holy Mother of God”.



Pope Francis      01.01.15        Message 48th World Day of Peace


NO LONGER SLAVES, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS


1. At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.

In my Message for Peace last year, I spoke of “the desire for a full life… which includes a 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”.[1] Since we are by nature relational beings, meant to find fulfilment through interpersonal relationships inspired by justice and love, it is fundamental for our human development that our dignity, freedom and autonomy be acknowledged and respected. Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women “no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters”.

Listening to God’s plan for humanity

2. The theme I have chosen for this year’s message is drawn from Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks his co-worker to welcome Onesimus, formerly Philemon’s slave, now a Christian and, therefore, according to Paul, worthy of being considered a brother. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (vv. 15-16). Onesimus became Philemon’s brother when he became a Christian. Conversion to Christ, the beginning of a life lived Christian discipleship, thus constitutes a new birth (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:3) which generates fraternity as the fundamental bond of family life and the basis of life in society.

In the Book of Genesis (cf. 1:27-28), we read that God made man male and female, and blessed them so that they could increase and multiply. He made Adam and Eve parents who, in response to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, brought about the first fraternity, that of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were brothers because they came forth from the same womb. Consequently they had the same origin, nature and dignity as their parents, who were created in the image and likeness of God.

But fraternity also embraces variety and differences between brothers and sisters, even though they are linked by birth and are of the same nature and dignity. As brothers and sisters, therefore, all people are in relation with others, from whom they differ, but with whom they share the same origin, nature and dignity. In this way, fraternity constitutes the network of relations essential for the building of the human family created by God.

Tragically, between the first creation recounted in the Book of Genesis and the new birth in Christ whereby believers become brothers and sisters of the “first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29), there is the negative reality of sin, which often disrupts human fraternity and constantly disfigures the beauty and nobility of our being brothers and sisters in the one human family. It was not only that Cain could not stand Abel; he killed him out of envy and, in so doing, committed the first fratricide. “Cain’s murder of Abel bears tragic witness to his radical rejection of their vocation to be brothers. Their story (cf. Gen 4:1-16) brings out the difficult task to which all men and women are called, to live as one, each taking care of the other”.[2]

This was also the case with Noah and his children (cf. Gen 9:18-27). Ham’s disrespect for his father Noah drove Noah to curse his insolent son and to bless the others, those who honoured him. This created an inequality between brothers born of the same womb.

In the account of the origins of the human family, the sin of estrangement from God, from the father figure and from the brother, becomes an expression of the refusal of communion. It gives rise to a culture of enslavement (cf. Gen 9:25-27), with all its consequences extending from generation to generation: rejection of others, their mistreatment, violations of their dignity and fundamental rights, and institutionalized inequality. Hence, the need for constant conversion to the Covenant, fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, in the confidence that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… through Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:20-21). Christ, the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17), came to reveal the Father’s love for humanity. Whoever hears the Gospel and responds to the call to conversion becomes Jesus’ “brother, sister and mother” (Mt 12:50), and thus an adopted son of his Father (cf. Eph 1:5).

One does not become a Christian, a child of the Father and a brother or sister in Christ, as the result of an authoritative divine decree, without the exercise of personal freedom: in a word, without being freely converted to Christ. Becoming a child of God is necessarily linked to conversion: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). All those who responded in faith and with their lives to Peter’s preaching entered into the fraternity of the first Christian community (cf. 1 Pet 2:17; Acts 1:15-16, 6:3, 15:23): Jews and Greeks, slaves and free (cf. 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28). Differing origins and social status did not diminish anyone’s dignity or exclude anyone from belonging to the People of God. The Christian community is thus a place of communion lived in the love shared among brothers and sisters (cf. Rom 12:10; 1 Thess 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7).

All of this shows how the Good News of Jesus Christ, in whom God makes “all things new” (Rev 21:5),[3] is also capable of redeeming human relationships, including those between slaves and masters, by shedding light on what both have in common: adoptive sonship and the bond of brotherhood in Christ. Jesus himself said to his disciples: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).

The many faces of slavery yesterday and today

3. From time immemorial, different societies have known the phenomenon of man’s subjugation by man. There have been periods of human history in which the institution of slavery was generally accepted and regulated by law. This legislation dictated who was born free and who was born into slavery, as well as the conditions whereby a freeborn person could lose his or her freedom or regain it. In other words, the law itself admitted that some people were able or required to be considered the property of other people, at their free disposition. A slave could be bought and sold, given away or acquired, as if he or she were a commercial product.

Today, as the result of a growth in our awareness, slavery, seen as a crime against humanity,[4] has been formally abolished throughout the world. The right of each person not to be kept in a state of slavery or servitude has been recognized in international law as inviolable.

Yet, even though the international community has adopted numerous agreements aimed at ending slavery in all its forms, and has launched various strategies to combat this phenomenon, millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery.

I think of the many men and women labourers, including minors, subjugated in different sectors, whether formally or informally, in domestic or agricultural workplaces, or in the manufacturing or mining industry; whether in countries where labour regulations fail to comply with international norms and minimum standards, or, equally illegally, in countries which lack legal protection for workers’ rights.

I think also of the living conditions of many migrants who, in their dramatic odyssey, experience hunger, are deprived of freedom, robbed of their possessions, or undergo physical and sexual abuse. In a particular way, I think of those among them who, upon arriving at their destination after a gruelling journey marked by fear and insecurity, are detained in at times inhumane conditions. I think of those among them, who for different social, political and economic reasons, are forced to live clandestinely. My thoughts also turn to those who, in order to remain within the law, agree to disgraceful living and working conditions, especially in those cases where the laws of a nation create or permit a structural dependency of migrant workers on their employers, as, for example, when the legality of their residency is made dependent on their labour contract. Yes, I am thinking of “slave labour”.

I think also of persons forced into prostitution, many of whom are minors, as well as male and female sex slaves. I think of women forced into marriage, those sold for arranged marriages and those bequeathed to relatives of their deceased husbands, without any right to give or withhold their consent.

Nor can I fail to think of all those persons, minors and adults alike, who are made objects of trafficking for the sale of organs, for recruitment as soldiers, for begging, for illegal activities such as the production and sale of narcotics, or for disguised forms of cross-border adoption.

Finally, I think of all those kidnapped and held captive by terrorist groups, subjected to their purposes as combatants, or, above all in the case of young girls and women, to be used as sex slaves. Many of these disappear, while others are sold several times over, tortured, mutilated or killed.

Some deeper causes of slavery

4. Today, as in the past, slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person which allows him or her to be treated as an object. Whenever sin corrupts the human heart and distances us from our Creator and our neighbours, the latter are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects. Whether by coercion or deception, or by physical or psychological duress, human persons created in the image and likeness of God are deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others. They are treated as means to an end.

Alongside this deeper cause – the rejection of another person’s humanity – there are other causes which help to explain contemporary forms of slavery. Among these, I think in the first place of poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion, especially when combined with a lack of access to education or scarce, even non-existent, employment opportunities. Not infrequently, the victims of human trafficking and slavery are people who look for a way out of a situation of extreme poverty; taken in by false promises of employment, they often end up in the hands of criminal networks which organize human trafficking. These networks are skilled in using modern means of communication as a way of luring young men and women in various parts of the world.

Another cause of slavery is corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain. Slave labour and human trafficking often require the complicity of intermediaries, be they law enforcement personnel, state officials, or civil and military institutions. “This occurs when money, and not the human person, is at the centre of an economic system. Yes, the person, made in the image of God and charged with dominion over all creation, must be at the centre of every social or economic system. When the person is replaced by mammon, a subversion of values occurs”.[5]

Further causes of slavery include armed conflicts, violence, criminal activity and terrorism. Many people are kidnapped in order to be sold, enlisted as combatants, or sexually exploited, while others are forced to emigrate, leaving everything behind: their country, home, property, and even members of their family. They are driven to seek an alternative to these terrible conditions even at the risk of their personal dignity and their very lives; they risk being drawn into that vicious circle which makes them prey to misery, corruption and their baneful consequences.

A shared commitment to ending slavery

5. Often, when considering the reality of human trafficking, illegal trafficking of migrants and other acknowledged or unacknowledged forms of slavery, one has the impression that they occur within a context of general indifference.

Sadly, this is largely true. Yet I would like to mention the enormous and often silent efforts which have been made for many years by religious congregations, especially women’s congregations, to provide support to victims. These institutes work in very difficult situations, dominated at times by violence, as they work to break the invisible chains binding victims to traffickers and exploiters. Those chains are made up of a series of links, each composed of clever psychological ploys which make the victims dependent on their exploiters. This is accomplished by blackmail and threats made against them and their loved ones, but also by concrete acts such as the confiscation of their identity documents and physical violence. The activity of religious congregations is carried out in three main areas: in offering assistance to victims, in working for their psychological and educational rehabilitation, and in efforts to reintegrate them into the society where they live or from which they have come.

This immense task, which calls for courage, patience and perseverance, deserves the appreciation of the whole Church and society. Yet, of itself, it is not sufficient to end the scourge of the exploitation of human persons. There is also need for a threefold commitment on the institutional level: to prevention, to victim protection and to the legal prosecution of perpetrators. Moreover, since criminal organizations employ global networks to achieve their goals, efforts to eliminate this phenomenon also demand a common and, indeed, a global effort on the part of various sectors of society.

States must ensure that their own legislation truly respects the dignity of the human person in the areas of migration, employment, adoption, the movement of businesses offshore and the sale of items produced by slave labour. There is a need for just laws which are centred on the human person, uphold fundamental rights and restore those rights when they have been violated. Such laws should also provide for the rehabilitation of victims, ensure their personal safety, and include effective means of enforcement which leave no room for corruption or impunity. The role of women in society must also be recognized, not least through initiatives in the sectors of culture and social communications.

Intergovernmental organizations, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, are called to coordinate initiatives for combating the transnational networks of organized crime which oversee the trafficking of persons and the illegal trafficking of migrants. Cooperation is clearly needed at a number of levels, involving national and international institutions, agencies of civil society and the world of finance.

Businesses[6] have a duty to ensure dignified working conditions and adequate salaries for their employees, but they must also be vigilant that forms of subjugation or human trafficking do not find their way into the distribution chain. Together with the social responsibility of businesses, there is also the social responsibility of consumers. Every person ought to have the awareness that “purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act”.[7]

Organizations in civil society, for their part, have the task of awakening consciences and promoting whatever steps are necessary for combating and uprooting the culture of enslavement.

In recent years, the Holy See, attentive to the pain of the victims of trafficking and the voice of the religious congregations which assist them on their path to freedom, has increased its appeals to the international community for cooperation and collaboration between different agencies in putting an end to this scourge.[8] Meetings have also been organized to draw attention to the phenomenon of human trafficking and to facilitate cooperation between various agencies, including experts from the universities and international organizations, police forces from migrants’ countries of origin, transit, or destination, and representatives of ecclesial groups which work with victims. It is my hope that these efforts will continue to expand in years to come.

Globalizing fraternity, not slavery or indifference

6. In her “proclamation of the truth of Christ’s love in society”,[9] the Church constantly engages in charitable activities inspired by the truth of the human person. She is charged with showing to all the path to conversion, which enables us to change the way we see our neighbours, to recognize in every other person a brother or sister in our human family, and to acknowledge his or her intrinsic dignity in truth and freedom. This can be clearly seen from the story of Josephine Bakhita, the saint originally from the Darfur region in Sudan who was kidnapped by slave-traffickers and sold to brutal masters when she was nine years old. Subsequently – as a result of painful experiences – she became a “free daughter of God” thanks to her faith, lived in religious consecration and in service to others, especially the most lowly and helpless. This saint, who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, is even today an exemplary witness of hope[10] for the many victims of slavery; she can support the efforts of all those committed to fighting against this “open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ”. [11]

In the light of all this, I invite everyone, in accordance with his or her specific role and responsibilities, to practice acts of fraternity towards those kept in a state of enslavement. Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others. Some of us, out of indifference, or financial reasons, or because we are caught up in our daily concerns, close our eyes to this. Others, however, decide to do something about it, to join civic associations or to practice small, everyday gestures – which have so much merit! – such as offering a kind word, a greeting or a smile. These cost us nothing but they can offer hope, open doors, and change the life of another person who lives clandestinely; they can also change our own lives with respect to this reality.

We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself. For this reason I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will, and all those near or far, including the highest levels of civil institutions, who witness the scourge of contemporary slavery, not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity. Instead, may we have the courage to touch the suffering flesh of Christ,[12] revealed in the faces of those countless persons whom he calls “the least of these my brethren” (Mt 25:40, 45).

We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2014

[1] No. 1.
[2] Message for the 2014 World Day of Peace, 2.
[3] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 11.
[4] Cf. Address to Delegates of the International Association of Penal Law, 23 October 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 24 October 2014, p. 4.
[5] Address to Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, 28 October 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 29 October 2014, p. 7.
[6] Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection, 2013.
[7] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 66.
[8] Cf. Message to Mr Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization, on the occasion of the 103rd Session of the ILO, 22 May 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 29 May 2014, p. 7.
[9] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 5.
[10] “Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed’, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world – without hope because without God” (BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 3).
[11] Address to Participants in the Second International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking: Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership, 10 April 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 11 April 2014, p. 7; cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 270.
[12] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 and 270.




Pope Francis        04.01.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square         2nd Sunday after Christmas Year B          John 1: 1-18


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!



The new year has given us a nice Sunday! A beautiful day!

St John says in the Gospel that we read today: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.... The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world” (1:4-5, 9). Men speak much of light, but they often prefer the deceptive tranquillity of darkness. We speak a lot about peace, but we often turn to war or choose the complicity of silence, or to do nothing concrete to build peace. In fact St John says that “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11); for “this is the judgment, that the light — Jesus — has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn 3:19-20). This is what St John says in the Gospel. The heart of man may reject the light and prefer the shadows, because light lays bare his evil deeds. Those who do evil hate light. Those who do evil hate peace.

A few days ago, we began the new year in the name of the Mother of God, by celebrating the World Day of Peace, with the theme: “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters”. My hope is that man’s exploitation of man may be overcome. This kind of exploitation is a social plague which demeans interpersonal relationships and impedes a life of communion based on respect, justice and charity. Every man and every people hungers and thirsts for peace; building peace is therefore an urgent necessity!

Peace is not simply the absence of war, but a general condition in which the human person is in harmony with him/herself, in harmony with nature and in harmony with others. This is peace. Nevertheless, silencing weapons and extinguishing the hotbeds of war is an inevitable condition to begin a journey that leads to peace in its various aspects. I think of the wars that still cause bloodshed in too many regions of the planet, of the tensions in families and in communities — but in many families, in many communities, in parishes too, there is war! — as well as heated disputes in our cities and towns between groups of different ethnic, cultural and religious extraction. We must convince ourselves, despite every appearance to the contrary, that harmony is always possible, on every level and in every situation. There is no future without proposals and plans for peace! There is no future without peace!

In the Old Testament, God made a promise. The Prophet Isaiah said: “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn the art of war any more” (cf. Is 2:4). This is beautiful! Peace is proclaimed, as a special gift of God, in the birth of the Redeemer: “on earth peace among men whom God loves” (cf. Lk 2:14). This gift needs to be ceaselessly implored in prayer. Let us recall, here in the Square, that sign: “Prayer is at the root of peace”. This gift must be implored and must be welcomed with commitment every day, in whatever situation we are in. At the dawn of this new year, we are all called to rekindle in our heart an impulse of hope, which must be translated into concrete works of peace. “Are you in disaccord with this person? Make peace!”; “At home? Make peace!” “In your community? Make peace!”; “At your place of work? Make peace!”. Work for peace, for reconciliation and fraternity. Each of us must perform gestures of fraternity toward our neighbour, especially toward those who are tried by family tensions or various types of conflict. These small gestures are of so much value: they can be seeds which give hope, they can open paths and perspectives of peace.

Let us now invoke Mary, Queen of Peace. During her life on earth, she met many difficulties, related to the daily toils of life. But she never lost peace of heart, the fruit of faithful abandonment to God’s mercy. Let us ask Mary, our gentle Mother, to show the entire world the sure way of love and peace.





Pope Francis  06.06.15  Holy Mass Koševo Stadium     Colossians 3: 12-13     Matthew 5: 9


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The word peace echoes several times through the Scripture readings which we have just heard. It is a powerful, prophetic word! Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation. And it is a plan which always meets opposition from men and from the evil one. Even in our time, the desire for peace and the commitment to build peace collide against the reality of many armed conflicts presently affecting our world. They are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.

Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!

Within this atmosphere of war, like a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds, resound the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). This appeal is always applicable, in every generation. He does not say: “Blessed are the preachers of peace”, since all are capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner. No. He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, that is, those who make peace. Crafting peace is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy... These, indeed, “shall be called children of God”, for God sows peace, always, everywhere; in the fullness of time, he sowed in the world his Son, that we might have peace! Peacemaking is a work to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.


So how does one do this, how do we build peace? The prophet Isaiah reminds us succinctly: “The effect of righteousness will be peace” (32:17). Opus justitiae pax (“the work of justice is peace”), from the Vulgate version of Scripture, has become a famous motto, even adopted prophetically by Pope Pius XII. Peace is a work of justice. Here too: not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned... but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39; Rm 13:9). When, by the grace of God, we truly follow this commandment, how things change! Because we ourselves change! Those whom I looked upon as my enemy really have the same face as I do, the same heart, the same soul. We have the same Father in heaven. True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people (cf. Mt 7:12).

Saint Paul, in the second reading, shows us the attitude needed to make peace: “Put on then... compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:12-13).

These are the attitudes necessary to become artisans of peace precisely where we live out our daily lives. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! We would fall into an illusive moralizing. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace. And, going further, the Apostle says that peace is a gift of God because it is the fruit of his reconciliation with us. Only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with God can human beings become artisans of peace.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we ask the Lord together, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the grace to have a simple heart, the grace of patience, the grace to struggle and work for justice, to be merciful, to work for peace, to sow peace and not war and discord. This is the way which brings happiness, which leads to blessedness.




Pope Francis  04.09.15  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Friday of 22nd Week of Ordinary Time Year B       Colossians 1: 15-20


In a passage of the Letter to the Colossians (1:15-20), Paul describes Jesus’ i.d. card. Basically, the Apostle asks, just who is this Christ that we have seen among us?. And he gives this response: He is the first. He is the first-born of God, the first-born of all creation, for in him things were created, all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together and are reconciled.

To the Colossians Paul presents Jesus-God: Jesus is God, he is greater. First of all he is the beginning, the Creator. The first-born of everyone, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. Paul goes so far that when he speaks about who Jesus is, it seems somewhat exaggerated, does it not?. Yes, the Father sent this Jesus so that through him and for him all things were reconciled, peace was made by the blood of his cross.

Jesus, Paul tells us, reconciled mankind with God. Thus, peace is the action of Jesus, of his blood, of his work, of humbling himself by obeying until death, death on the Cross.

Thus, Jesus made peace for us and reconciled us. Such that when we speak of peace or reconciliation — small-scale peace, minor reconciliations — we must consider the great peace and the great reconciliation, that which Jesus made. We must understand that without him peace is not possible; without him reconciliation is not possible. This discourse also applies to us, who every day hear news of wars, of hatred. Moreover, even in families there is fighting. Thus, our task is to follow that path so as to be men and women of peace, men and women of reconciliation.

It will do us good to ask ourselves: Do I sow peace? For example, with my tongue, do I sow peace or do I sow discord? How many times have we heard that a person has a serpent’s tongue, because he does what the serpent did with Adam and Eve, he destroyed the peace. This, is an evil, this is an ill in our Church: sowing divisiveness, sowing hate, not sowing peace. Today have I sown peace or have I sown discord?. And don’t try to justify yourself by suggesting that sometimes you have to say things because this or that.... what are you really sowing with this attitude?.

Jesus, the First One, came to us to make peace, to reconcile. As a result, if a person, during her life, does nothing but reconcile and make peace, she should be canonized: that person is a saint!. However, we must grow in this, we must convert: never a word to divide, never, never a word to cause conflicts, little conflicts, never gossip. Gossip; what is it, really? It seems like nothing. It amounts to saying a few words about another person or telling a story, such as: This person did.... But in reality it isn’t so. Gossiping is an act of terrorism, because gossip is like terrorists who drop a bomb and leave. They destroy: with the tongue they destroy, they don’t make peace. But they’re clever, eh? They aren’t suicide bombers, no, no, they protect themselves well!

In Jesus all things are reconciled, peace is made by the blood of his cross. Thus, the price is high. Every time your mouth is about to say something that sows discord and divisiveness and to speak ill of another person the sound advice is to bite your tongue!. And, I assure you that if you do this exercise of biting your tongue instead of sowing discord, the first few times your tongue will swell, wounded, because the devil helps to do this because it is his work, it is his job to divide!

Before continuing this sacrifice — this is the sacrifice of reconciliation; here the Lord comes and we do the same as on Calvary. Lord you gave your life, give me the grace to make peace, to reconcile. You poured out your blood, let it not concern me should my tongue swell a little if I bite it before speaking ill of others. Let us thank the Lord for reconciling us with the Father, forgiving our sins, and giving us the opportunity to have peace in our souls.




Pope Francis        10.09.15 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)          Colossians 3: 12-17,       Luke 6: 27-38
Thursday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time Year B


Several days ago, the Liturgy spoke of the work that was done by Jesus Christ, the Lord: the work of making peace and reconciling. And, the other day, on the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, we asked for this grace of peace and reconciliation.

Peace and reconciliation, therefore, is what Jesus did: he made peace, and this is why he is called the Prince of Peace. The Prophet Micah says in this regard that he shall be peace and that he brings peace, that he makes peace. Even in our hearts, in our souls. So, how did he make peace? By giving his life as an offering, a prayer for the forgiveness of all.

I wonder, if we are really thankful for this gift of peace that we received in Jesus. Because peace was made, but it wasn’t accepted. And thus, still, every day on the news, in the papers, we see that there are wars, destruction, hatred, enmity, and that enmity that the Lord spoke of to the serpent after the sin, it’s there!.

After all, there are also men and women who have worked so much — they work a lot! — to produce weapons to kill, arms that in the end become bathed in the blood of so many innocent people, so many people. There are wars and there is the wickedness of preparing for war, of making arms against the other, to kill. The terms of the issue are clear: Peace saves, peace lets you live, peace lets you grow; war destroys you, it brings you down. People often say, Father, it’s awful that this has happened there!. But certain situations, do not only happen in faraway places: War even exists in our Christian communities, among ourselves. The advice that today’s Liturgy offers us: ‘Make peace among yourselves’, Colossians 3:12-17.

So, there are two key words. The first is forgiveness: if we do not learn to forgive one another, we will always be at war. As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do. But if you do not know how to forgive, you are not a Christian, because you do not do as the Lord did. Moreover, if you don’t forgive, you cannot receive the Lord’s peace, the Lord’s forgiveness.

Each day, when we pray the Our Father, we say: ‘forgive us, as we forgive’. And this, is in the ‘conditional’: we are trying to convince God to be good, as we are good in forgiving: in reverse. Words, no? Like she sings in that beautiful song: ‘Words, words, words’, no? I think the singer is Mina.... Words!.

This is the right path: Forgive one another! As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do! Forgive one another! And some good advice for forgiving each other: forbear one another at home, in your neighbourhood, at work.... Bear with each other, without resorting to whispering: “He did that...”. It’s important to forbear, because he too bears with me”. In short, it takes Christian patience.

How many heroic women there are among our people who, for the good of their family, of their children, forbear so much brutality, so much injustice: they forbear and go forward with their family. And how many heroic men there are among our Christian people who forbear getting up early in the morning and going to work — often unfair, poorly paid work — to return late in the evening, in order to provide for their wife and children. These people are the just ones.

However, how many others there are who, instead of doing what they should, wag their tongue and create conflict. Indeed, the same damage that a bomb creates in a town, the tongue creates in a family, in a neighbourhood, in a workplace. Because the tongue destroys, it creates war. And I’m not saying this, the Apostle James says it. Here then is the practical advice of St Paul: “As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do: forbear one another and forgive one another”.

Then, there is another word that Jesus says in the Gospel, because it repeats the same topic: mercy. In the passage of Luke 6:27-38, the Lord says: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”. It is an invitation to understand others, not to condemn them: the Lord, the Father, is so merciful, he always forgives, he always wants to make peace with us. But, if you are not merciful, how can the Lord be merciful with you, since we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others?.

For this reason, if you are a priest and don’t feel you are merciful, tell your bishop so you can be given administrative work, but don’t go down to the confessional, please! Because a priest who isn’t merciful does so much harm in the confessional: he lambastes people!. Perhaps one could justify it, saying: “No, father, I am merciful, but I’m a little upset...”. Before entering the confessional, go to the doctor who can give a pill for your nerves! But be merciful!

One must be merciful even among ourselves. Instead of complaining — “he did this...” — we should ask ourselves: “what have I done?”. After all, who can say that he is a worse sinner than I am? None of us can say this. Only the Lord can. All of us, can say, ‘I am a sinner and I need mercy and I need forgiveness. And this is why I forbear others, I forgive others and I am merciful with others’. For when the soul is like this, the Christian way is what Paul teaches to his own in the Letter to the Colossians: ‘Put on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience’.

This, then, is the Christian way: it is not arrogance, it is not condemnation, it is not speaking ill of others. The Christian way is compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. Ultimately, it is the way of Jesus, the way by which Jesus made peace and reconciliation, until the end. Indeed, at the end, in the final yearnings of life, he managed to hear something that the thief said: ‘Yes, yes, yes, come with me, dear one, come to Paradise’.

Let us ask the Lord to give each of us the grace to forbear others, to forgive, to be merciful, as the Lord is merciful with us; and to have this Christian way of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.





Pope Francis   10.09.17  Holy Mass, Port of Contecar (Cartagena de Indias), Colombia     23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A        Matthew 18: 15-20

Pope Francis - SLAVES OF PEACE, FOREVER - 10.09.17 - Colombia

In this city, which has been called “heroic” for its tenacity in defending freedom two hundred years ago, I celebrate the concluding Mass of my Visit. For the past thirty-two years Cartagena de Indias is also the headquarters in Colombia for Human Rights. For here the people cherish the fact that, “thanks to the missionary team formed by the Jesuit priests Peter Claver y Corberó, Alonso de Sandoval and Brother Nicolás González, accompanied by many citizens of the city of Cartagena de Indias in the seventeenth century, the desire was born to alleviate the situation of the oppressed of that time, especially of slaves, of those who implored fair treatment and freedom” (Congress of Colombia 1985, law 95, art. 1).

Here, in the Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, where the progress and application of human rights in Colombia continue to be studied and monitored in a systematic way, the Word of God speaks to us today of forgiveness, correction, community and prayer.

In the fourth sermon of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to us, who have decided to support the community, to us, who value life together and dream of a project that includes everyone. The preceding text is that of the good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one that is lost. This fact pervades the entire text we have just heard: there is no one too lost to deserve our care, our closeness and our forgiveness. From this perspective, we can see that a fault or a sin committed by one person challenges us all, but involves, primarily, the victim of someone’s sin. He or she is called to take the initiative so that whoever has caused the harm is not lost. To take the initiative: he or she who takes the initiative is always the most courageous person.

During these past few days I have heard many testimonies from those who have reached out to people who had harmed them; terrible wounds that I could see in their own bodies; irreparable losses that still bring tears. Yet they have reached out, have taken a first step on a different path to the one already travelled. For decades Colombia has yearned for peace but, as Jesus teaches, two sides approaching each other to dialogue is not enough; it has also been necessary to involve many more actors in this dialogue aimed at healing sins. The Lord tells us in the Gospel: “If your brother does not listen to you, take one or two others along with you” (Mt 18:16).

We have learned that these ways of making peace, of placing reason above revenge, of the delicate harmony between politics and law, cannot ignore the involvement of the people. Peace is not achieved by normative frameworks and institutional arrangements between well-intentioned political or economic groups. Jesus finds the solution to the harm inflicted through a personal encounter between the parties. It is always helpful, moreover, to incorporate into our peace processes the experience of those sectors that have often been overlooked, so that communities themselves can influence the development of collective memory. “The principal author, the historic subject of this process, is the people as a whole and their culture, and not a single class, minority, group or elite – the people as a whole and their culture –. We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 239).

We can contribution greatly to this new step that Colombia wants to take. Jesus tells us that this path of reintegration into the community begins with a dialogue of two persons. Nothing can replace that healing encounter; no collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving. Deep historic wounds necessarily require moments where justice is done, where victims are given the opportunity to know the truth, where damage is adequately repaired and clear commitments are made to avoid repeating those crimes. But that is only the beginning of the Christian response. We Christians are required to generate “from below”, to generate a change in culture: to respond to the culture of death and violence with the culture of life and encounter. We have already learned this from your own beloved author whom we all benefit from: “This cultural disaster is not remedied with lead or silver, but with an education for peace, built lovingly on the rubble of an angry country where we rise early to continue killing each other... a legitimate revolution of peace which channels towards life an immense creative energy that for almost two centuries we have used to destroy us and that vindicates and exalts the predominance of the imagination” (Gabriel García Márquez, Message About Peace, 1998).

How much have we worked for an encounter, for peace? How much have we neglected, allowing barbarity to become enfleshed in the life of our people? Jesus commands us to confront those types of behaviour, those ways of living that damage society and destroy the community. How many times have we “normalized” – experienced as normal occurrences – the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands and voices! Alongside Saint Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated… but only a handful started a counter-cultural movement of encounter. Saint Peter was able to restore the dignity and hope of hundreds of thousands of black people and slaves arriving in absolutely inhuman conditions, full of dread, with all their hopes lost. He did not have prestigious academic qualifications, and he even said of himself that he was “mediocre” in terms of intelligence, but he had the genius to live the Gospel to the full, to meet those whom others considered merely as waste material. Centuries later, the footsteps of this missionary and apostle of the Society of Jesus were followed by Saint María Bernarda Bütler, who dedicated her life to serving the poor and marginalized in this same city of Cartagena.[1]

In the encounter between us we rediscover our rights, and we recreate our lives so that they re-emerge as authentically human. “The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature” (Address to the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

In the Gospel, Jesus also shows us the possibility that the other may remain closed, refusing to change, persisting in evil. We cannot deny that there are people who persist in sins that damage the fabric of our coexistence and community: “I also think of the heart-breaking drama of drug abuse, which reaps profits in contempt of the moral and civil laws. This evil directly goes against human dignity and gradually tears away at the image the Creator has formed in us. I firmly condemn this trade which has killed so many and which is nourished by people who have no scruples. The lives of our brothers and sisters cannot be played with, nor their dignity instrumentalized. I appeal so that ways can be found to stop the drug-trade which only sows death everywhere, uproots so many hopes and destroys so many families. I also think of another tragedy: I think of the devastation of natural resources and ongoing pollution, and the tragedy of the exploitation of labour. I think too of illicit money trafficking and financial speculation, which often prove both predatory and harmful for entire economic and social systems, exposing millions of men and women to poverty. I think of prostitution, which every day reaps innocent victims, especially the young, robbing them of their future. I think of the abomination of human trafficking, crimes and abuses against minors, the horror of slavery still present in many parts of the world; the frequently overlooked tragedy of migrants, who are often victims of disgraceful and illegal manipulation” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2014, 8), and I think too of the desire to even make some profit from that pacifist “sterile legality” which ignores the flesh of our brothers and sisters, the flesh of Christ. We must also be prepared for this, and solidly base ourselves upon principles of justice that in no way diminish charity. It is only possible to live peacefully by avoiding actions that corrupt or harm life. In this context, we remember all those who, bravely and tirelessly, have worked and even lost their lives in defending and protecting the rights and the dignity of the human person. History asks us to embrace a definitive commitment to defending human rights, here in Cartagena de Indias, the place that you have chosen as the national seat of their defence.

Finally, Jesus asks us to pray together, so that our prayer, even with its personal nuances and various emphases, becomes symphonic and arises as one single cry. I am sure that today we pray together for the rescue of those who were wrong and not for their destruction, for justice and not revenge, for healing in truth and not for oblivion. We pray to fulfil the theme of this visit: “Let us take the first step!” And may this first step be in a common direction.

To “take the first step” is, above all, to go out and meet others with Christ the Lord. And he always asks us to take a determined and sure step towards our brothers and sisters, and to renounce our claim to be forgiven without showing forgiveness, to be loved without showing love. If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands. Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements. We are asked to take the step of meeting with our brothers and sisters, and to risk a correction that does not want to expel but to integrate. And we are asked to be charitably firm in that which is not negotiable. In short, the demand is to build peace, “speaking not with the tongue but with hands and works” (Saint Peter Claver), and to lift up our eyes to heaven together. The Lord is able to untangle that which seems impossible to us; he has promised to accompany us to the end of time and will not allow our efforts to come to nothing.

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to leave you with one last word. Let us not be content with “taking the first step”. Instead, let us continue our journey anew each day, going forth to encounter others and to encourage concord and fraternity. We cannot just stand still. In this very place, on 8 September 1654, Saint Peter Claver died, after forty years of voluntary slavery, of tireless work on behalf of the poor. He did not stand still: his first step was followed by further steps, then more and more. His example draws us out of ourselves to encounter our neighbours. Colombia, your brothers and sisters need you. Go out to meet them. Bring them the embrace of peace, free of all violence. Be “slaves of peace, forever”. SLAVES OF PEACE, FOREVER.





Pope Francis     01.01.18       Message 51st World Day of Peace


Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace

1. Heartfelt good wishes for peace

Peace to all people and to all nations on earth! Peace, which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds on Christmas night,[1] is a profound aspiration for everyone, for each individual and all peoples, and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence. Among these whom I constantly keep in my thoughts and prayers, I would once again mention the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees. Pope Benedict XVI, my beloved predecessor, spoke of them as “men and women, children, young and elderly people, who are searching for somewhere to live in peace.”[2] In order to find that peace, they are willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.

In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.

We know that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home. Welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and goodwill, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited. By practising the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, “within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society.”[3] Leaders have a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct.[4]

2. Why so many refugees and migrants?

As he looked to the Great Jubilee marking the passage of two thousand years since the proclamation of peace by the angels in Bethlehem, Saint John Paul II pointed to the increased numbers of displaced persons as one of the consequences of the “endless and horrifying sequence of wars, conflicts, genocides and ethnic cleansings”[5] that had characterized the twentieth century. To this date, the new century has registered no real breakthrough: armed conflicts and other forms of organized violence continue to trigger the movement of peoples within national borders and beyond.

Yet people migrate for other reasons as well, principally because they “desire a better life, and not infrequently try to leave behind the ‘hopelessness’ of an unpromising future.”[6] They set out to join their families or to seek professional or educational opportunities, for those who cannot enjoy these rights do not live in peace. Furthermore, as I noted in the Encyclical Laudato Si’, there has been “a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation”.[7]

Most people migrate through regular channels. Some, however, take different routes, mainly out of desperation, when their own countries offer neither safety nor opportunity, and every legal pathway appears impractical, blocked or too slow.

Many destination countries have seen the spread of rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals, and thus demeaning the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God. Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being.[8]

All indicators available to the international community suggest that global migration will continue for the future. Some consider this a threat. For my part, I ask you to view it with confidence as an opportunity to build peace.

3. With a contemplative gaze

The wisdom of faith fosters a contemplative gaze that recognizes that all of us “belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth, whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.”[9] These words evoke the biblical image of the new Jerusalem. The book of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 60) and that of Revelation (chapter 21) describe the city with its gates always open to people of every nation, who marvel at it and fill it with riches. Peace is the sovereign that guides it and justice the principle that governs coexistence within it.

We must also turn this contemplative gaze to the cities where we live, “a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their houses, in their streets and squares, […] fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice”[10] – in other words, fulfilling the promise of peace.

When we turn that gaze to migrants and refugees, we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them. We also come to see the creativity, tenacity and spirit of sacrifice of the countless individuals, families and communities around the world who open their doors and hearts to migrants and refugees, even where resources are scarce.

A contemplative gaze should also guide the discernment of those responsible for the public good, and encourage them to pursue policies of welcome, “within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good”[11] – bearing in mind, that is, the needs of all members of the human family and the welfare of each.

Those who see things in this way will be able to recognize the seeds of peace that are already sprouting and nurture their growth. Our cities, often divided and polarized by conflicts regarding the presence of migrants and refugees, will thus turn into workshops of peace.

4. Four mileposts for action

Offering asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace they seek requires a strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.[12]

“Welcoming” calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people towards countries where they face persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights. Scripture reminds us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”[13]

“Protecting” has to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their being exploited. I think in particular of women and children who find themselves in situations that expose them to risks and abuses that can even amount to enslavement. God does not discriminate: “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the orphan and the widow.”[14]

“Promoting” entails supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees. Among many possible means of doing so, I would stress the importance of ensuring access to all levels of education for children and young people. This will enable them not only to cultivate and realize their potential, but also better equip them to encounter others and to foster a spirit of dialogue rather than rejection or confrontation. The Bible teaches that God “loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and cothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”[15]

“Integrating”, lastly, means allowing refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual enrichment and fruitful cooperation in service of the integral human development of the local community. Saint Paul expresses it in these words: “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people.”[16]

5. A proposal for two international compacts

It is my heartfelt hope this spirit will guide the process that in the course of 2018 will lead the United Nations to draft and approve two Global Compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees. As shared agreements at a global level, these compacts will provide a framework for policy proposals and practical measures. For this reason, they need to be inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process. Only in this way can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.

Dialogue and coordination are a necessity and a specific duty for the international community. Beyond national borders, higher numbers of refugees may be welcomed – or better welcomed – also by less wealthy countries, if international cooperation guarantees them the necessary funding.

The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has published a set of twenty action points that provide concrete leads for implementing these four verbs in public policy and in the attitudes and activities of Christian communities.[17] The aim of this and other contributions is to express the interest of the Catholic Church in the process leading to the adoption of the two U.N. Global Compacts. This interest is the sign of a more general pastoral concern that goes back to the very origins of the Church and has continued in her many works up to the present time.

6. For our common home

Let us draw inspiration from the words of Saint John Paul II: “If the ‘dream’ of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees’ and migrants’ contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and our earth a true ‘common home’.”[18] Throughout history, many have believed in this “dream”, and their achievements are a testament to the fact that it is no mere utopia.

Among these, we remember Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in this year that marks the hundredth anniversary of her death. On this thirteenth day of November, many ecclesial communities celebrate her memory. This remarkable woman, who devoted her life to the service of migrants and became their patron saint, taught us to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our brothers and sisters. Through her intercession, may the Lord enable all of us to experience that “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”[19]

From the Vatican, 13 November 2017

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of Migrants
FRANCIS

[1 Luke 2:14.
[2] Angelus, 15 January 2012.
[3] JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, 106.
[4] Luke 14:28-30.
[5] Message for the 2000 World Day of Peace, 3..
[6] BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
[7] No. 25.
[8] Cf. Address to the National Directors of Pastoral Care for Migrants of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, 22 September 2017.
[9] BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 2011 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
[10] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 71.
[11] JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, 106.
[12] Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
[13] Hebrews 13:2.
[14] Psalm 146:9.
[15] Deuteronomy 10:18-19.
[16] Ephesians 2:19.
[17] “20 Pastoral Action Points” and “20 Action Points for the Global Compacts”, Migrants and Refugees Section, Rome, 2017. See also Document UN A/72/528.
[18] Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2004,, 6.
[19] James 3:18.





Pope Francis          26.10.18    Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Ephesians 4: 1-6       Luke 12: 54-59
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/conflict/26.10.18.jpg

St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."

Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of
conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.

Even
world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.

There is a tendency to destruction, war and
disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.

We who are used to
insulting and shouting at each other, need to make peace and unity among us with gentleness and patience

Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "
humility, gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation and distances

When a
rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".

The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an
agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.

The advice of Jesus is to
settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives everything.

Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity.


Pope Francis        04.12.18  Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Isaiah 11: 1-10
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/peace/04.12.18.jpg

Peace-making consists in not talking evil of and harming others, a bit like imitating God, who humbled Himself

In the pastoral scene evoked by Isaiah in the first reading, where the wolf and the lamb, and the leopard and the kid live side by side harmlessly, the prophet speaks about the peace of Jesus that transforms life and history, which is why He is called the "Prince of Peace".

Advent, therefore, is the time to prepare ourselves for this Prince of Peace by being at peace with ourselves, our soul, that is often in anxiety, anguish and without hope. For this, one needs to start with oneself.

Today the Lord asks us whether our soul is at peace? If not, then we should ask the Prince of Peace to pacify our souls, so we can meet Him.   We are so used to looking at the souls of others rather than our own.

After being at peace with our soul, it is time to be at peace at home, in the family.  There is much sadness in families with much struggle, “small wars” and at times disunity.

I urge Christians to examine themselves whether they are at peace or at war in their families or against others, whether there are bridges or walls that separate.

Make peace in the world where there is much war, disunity, hatred and exploitation. Christians should ask themselves what they are doing about creating peace in the world by working for peace in the neighbourhood, in the school and in the workplace.

I urge Christians to ask themselves whether they find excuses to make war, to hate, to talk ill about others and condemn or are they meek and try to build bridges.

Peace, is never still but always moves forward. It starts with the soul, and after making its journey of peace, returns to the soul. Making peace is a bit like imitating God. When He wanted to make peace with us and forgave us, He sent His Son to make peace, to be the Prince of peace.

To be a peacemaker one does not have to be wise and learned and study peace. Peace is an attitude that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel. Jesus glorifies God because he has hidden these things from the wise and learned and has revealed them to the little ones.

I urge Christians to make themselves small, humble and be the servant of others. The Lord will give you the ability to understand how to make peace and will provide you the strength to make it.

Children too can ask themselves whether at school they bully a companion they dislike because he is a little hateful or weak, or they make peace and forgive everything.

Whenever there is the possibility of a “small war” at home, in the heart, at school or at work, we should stop short and try and make peace. “Never, never wound the other. Never.”  I exhort Christians to start by not speaking ill of others or firing the first cannon. This way, we become men and women of peace, carrying peace forward.



Pope Francis       28.04.19   Regina Coeli, St Peter's Square, Rome  Divine Mercy Sunday   2nd Sunday of Easter Year C     John 20: 19-31
 
Pope Francis 28.04.19  Regina Coeli

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel (cf. Jn -31 20.19) tells that the Easter Day Jesus appeared to his disciples in the upper room in the evening, carrying three gifts: the peace, the joy, the Apostolic mission.

The first words He said were: "peace be with you" (v. 21). The risen one brings true peace, because through his sacrifice on the cross he has made reconciliation between God and humanity and has overcame sin and death. This is peace. His disciples had first need of this peace, because, after the capture and execution of their master, they were plunged into bewilderment and fear. Jesus came alive in their midst and, showed his wounds on his hands – Jesus wanted to keep his wounds – and in showing them his wounds on his hands, in his glorious body, he gives peace as the fruit of his victory. But that evening the apostle Thomas was not present when Jesus came. When he was informed by the other apostles of this extraordinary event, he expressed disbelief and wanted to verify for himself what they had claimed. Eight days later, the day we mark today, the apparition is repeated: Jesus comes forward to dispel the disbelief of Thomas, inviting him to touch his wounds. They are the source of peace, because they are a sign of the immense love of Jesus who defeated the forces hostile to man; sin, evil and death. He invites him to touch the wounds. It is a lesson for us, as if Jesus said to all of us: "If you're not in peace, touch my wounds".

To touch the wounds of Jesus. The wounds of Jesus are the many problems, hardships, persecutions, sicknesses that many people are suffering. You're not in peace? Go, go to visit someone who is the symbol of the wound of Jesus. Touch the wound of Jesus. From those wounds comes divine mercy. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. A Saint said that the body of Jesus crucified is like a lot of mercy, which passes through the wounds, comes to us all. We all need mercy, we know. Let us draw near to Jesus and touch his wounds in our brothers and sisters who suffer. Jesus ' wounds are a treasure: from there comes mercy. Let us be courageous and touch Jesus ' wounds. With these wounds He stands before the Father, as if to say, "Father, this is the price, these wounds are what I paid for my brothers and sisters". With his wounds Jesus intercedes before the Father. Gives mercy to us and we come near to Him, and He intercedes for us. Don't forget the wounds of Jesus.

The second gift that the risen Jesus brings to his disciples is joy. The Evangelist says that "the disciples rejoice when they saw the Lord" (v. 20). And there is also a verse in Luke's version, saying that they could not believe for joy. And for us, when something good happens, something amazing, beautiful. What happens to us. We almost don't believe what is happening and this is the same for the disciples. The disciples couldn't believe for their joy. This is the joy that the Lord brings. If you're sad, if you're don't have peace, see the crucified Jesus, see Jesus risen, see his wounds and take that joy.

And then, in addition to peace and joy, Jesus brings to the disciples the mission. He tells them: "as the Father has sent me,  I also send you" (v. 21). The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of a new dynamism of love, capable of transforming the world with the power of the Holy Spirit.

On this second Sunday of Easter, we are invited to approach Christ with faith, by opening our hearts to peace, joy and mission. But let us not forget the wounds of Jesus, because from there comes peace, joy and the strength for the mission. We entrust this prayer to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven and Earth.


Pope Francis    21.05.19  Holy Mass, Santa Marta       Acts 14: 19-28 
Pope Francis 21.05.19 Talks about inner peace

How we can reconcile the tribulations and persecutions suffered by St Paul, related in the first reading; with the peace that Jesus promised to His disciples in His final words during the Last Supper, "I leave you peace, my peace I give you", which are recorded in the day’s Gospel.

Although a life of persecution and tribulations seems to be a life without peace; the last of the Beatitudes states "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account".
 
The peace of Jesus goes with this life of persecution, of tribulation. A peace that is deep down, deep down, very profound to all these things. A peace that no one can touch, a peace that is a gift, like the sea that deep down is tranquil, while on the surface there are waves. Living in peace with Jesus is having this experience within, which remains during all trials, all difficulties, all "tribulations".
 
This, is the only way we can understand how so many saints lived their final moments without losing peace, to the point that witnesses would say they went to their martyrdom "like guests to a wedding". This is the gift of the peace of Jesus, that we cannot obtain through human means, like going to a doctor or taking anti-anxiety drugs. This peace is something different, which comes from the Holy Spirit within us, and that brings with it strength.
 
There was a hard-working that I met who, because of an illness, had to give up all his plans, but managed to remain at peace. This is a Christian.
 
Peace, the peace of Jesus, teaches us to go forward in life. It teaches us to endure. To endure: a word we don’t understand well, a very Christian word, it means to carry a burden. To endure, to carry the burden of life, the difficulties, the labour, everything, without losing peace; but rather bearing the burden and having the courage to go forward. This can only be understood when there is the Holy Spirit within, who gives us the peace of Jesus.
 
On the other hand if we get caught up in a kind of fervent nervousness and lose this peace, there is something that isn’t working.
 
Let us face the greatest difficulties of life with this gift promised by Jesus, instead of that false peace that comes from the world, or from having money in the bank. Let us go forward in life with an even greater capacity, the ability to make the heart smile.
 
The person who lives this peace never loses their sense of humour. They know how to smile at themselves, at others, even when things are dark they know how to smile at everything… this sense of humour which is very close to the grace of God. The peace of Jesus in daily life, the peace of Jesus in tribulations and with that little sense of humour that helps us breathe easier. May the Lord grant us this peace that comes from the Holy Spirit, this peace that comes precisely from Him, and that helps us to endure, to carry, the many difficulties in life.




Pope Francis         06.09.19  Holy Mass, Zimpeto Stadium, Maputo, Mozambique        Colossians 3: 12-17,     Luke 6: 27-38

Pope Francis   06.09.19 Mozambique

Dear brothers and sisters!

We have heard a passage of the Sermon on the Plain, taken from the Gospel of Luke. After choosing his disciples and proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus adds: “But I say to you that listen,
love your enemies” (Lk 6:27). Today, his words are also addressed to us, who hear them in this Stadium.

Jesus speaks with clarity, simplicity and firmness as he traces a path, a narrow path that demands certain virtues. For Jesus is no idealist, someone who ignores reality. He is talking about specific enemies, real enemies, the kind he described in the previous Beatitude (v. 22): those who hate us, exclude us, revile us and defame us.

Many of you can still tell your own stories of violence, hatred and conflict; some concerning things that happened to you personally, others concerning people you knew who are no longer alive, and others still, out of fear that the past wounds will reopen and reverse the progress already made towards peace, as in Cabo Delgado.

Jesus is not calling us to an abstract, ethereal or theoretical love, like that celebrated in fine speeches. The path he proposes is one that he himself already took, the path that led him to love those who betrayed him, who judged him unjustly, who would kill him.

It is not easy to speak of reconciliation while wounds are still open from the years of conflict, or to take a step towards forgiveness, which is not the same as ignoring pain or giving up our memories or ideals (cf.
Evangelii Gaudium, 100). Even so, Jesus is calling us to love and to do good. This means much more than simply ignoring the persons who harmed us, or trying to avoid encountering them. Jesus commands us to show an active, impartial and extraordinary benevolence towards those who have hurt us. Nor does Jesus stop there. He also asks us to bless them and to pray for them. In other words, to speak of them with words of blessing, with words of life not death, to speak their names not in insult or revenge, but to establish a new bond which brings peace. It is a high standard that the Master sets before us!

In inviting us to do this, Jesus wants to end forever that common practice of being Christians yet living under the law of retaliation. We cannot look to the future, or build a nation, an equitable society, on the basis of violence. I cannot follow Jesus if I live my life by the rule of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth”.

No family, no group of neighbours, no ethnic group, much less a nation, has a future if the force that unites them, brings them together and resolves their differences is vengeance and hatred. We cannot come to terms and unite for the sake of revenge, or treating others with the same violence with which they treated us, or plotting opportunities for retaliation under apparently legal auspices. “Weapons of violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts” (
Evangelii Gaudium, 60). An “equity” born of violence is always a spiral with no escape, and its cost is extremely high. Yet another path is possible, for it is crucial not to forget that our peoples have a right to peace. You have a right to peace.

To make his commandment more concrete and applicable in daily life, Jesus proposes a first golden rule, one within the reach of all. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk 6:31). And he helps us realize what is most important in this way of acting towards others: to love each other, to help each other and to lend without expecting anything in return.

“Love one another”, Jesus tells us. Paul translates this as “clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness” (Col 3:12). The world disregards and continues to ignore the virtue of mercy, of compassion. It kills or abandons the handicapped and the elderly, eliminates the wounded and infirm, or shows itself more concerned with the suffering of animals. It has not practiced the goodness and kindness that lead us to consider the needs of our beloved neighbour as our own.

Overcoming times of division and violence calls not only for an act of reconciliation or peace, in the sense of an absence of conflict. It also calls for daily commitment on the part of everyone to an attentive and active concern that makes us treat others with the same mercy and goodness with which we ourselves want to be treated. An attitude of mercy and goodness above all towards those who, by their place in society, quickly encounter rejection and exclusion. An attitude not of the weak but of the strong, an attitude of men and women who realize that it is not necessary to mistreat, denigrate or crush others in order to feel ourselves important, but rather the contrary… And this attitude is the prophetic strength that Jesus Christ himself showed us by his desire to be identified with them (cf. Mt 25:35-45) and by teaching us the path of service.

Mozambique is a land of abundant natural and cultural riches, yet paradoxically, great numbers of its people live below the poverty level. And at times it seems that those who approach with the alleged desire to help have other interests. Sadly, this happens with brothers and sisters of the same land, who let themselves be corrupted. It is very dangerous to think that corruption is the price to be paid for foreign aid.

“It cannot be like that with you” (Mt 20:26; cf. vv. 26-28). Jesus’ words urge us to take the lead in a different way of acting: that of his kingdom. To be seeds, here and now, of joy and hope, peace and reconciliation. What the Spirit has come to bring about is not a feverish activism but above all a concern for others, acknowledging and appreciating them as our brothers and sisters, even to the point of identifying with their lives and their pain. This is the best barometer for gauging any kind of ideology that would manipulate the poor and situations of injustice for the sake of political or personal interest (cf.
Evangelii Gaudium, 199). In this way, in all those places where we encounter one another, we can be seeds and instruments of peace and reconciliation.

We want
peace to reign in our hearts and in the lives of our people. We want a future of peace. We want “the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts” (Col 3.15), as the letter of Saint Paul said so well. Here Paul uses a word taken from the world of sports, which evokes the umpire or referee who settles disputed issues. “May the peace of Christ act as the umpire in your hearts”. If the peace of Christ acts as the umpire in our hearts, whenever our feelings are in conflict or we feel torn between two contrary feelings, “we should play Christ’s game”, and let his decision keep us on the path of love, the path of mercy, in the option for the most poor and the protection of nature. The path of peace. If Jesus were to serve as the umpire for the conflicting emotions in our hearts, in the complex decisions of our country, then Mozambique will be ensured a future of hope. Then your country will “sing with heartfelt gratitude to God in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col 3:16).



Pope Francis     13.09.19 Message for the International Meeting on Peace With No Borders, Madrid

Peace With No Borders Madrid
  

With joy and gratitude I greet Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, and you all, representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities and the world Religions, gathered in Madrid for the XXXIII Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio together with the Archdiocese of Madrid. It is a source of joy to see this pilgrimage of peace, which began after the World Day of Prayer for Peace, summoned by Saint John Paul II in Assisi in October 1986, has never been interrupted, rather continues and grows in the number of participants and in its fruits of good. This pilgrimage has travelled through counties and cities to bear witness of the strength of the “spirit of Assisi”, which is prayer to God and promotion of peace among peoples.
 
This year its itinerary reaches Madrid, to reflect on the theme “Peace without Borders”. The mind flies to the past, when, thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell in the heart of Europe and the division of the continent, which caused so much suffering, was put to an end. From Berlin to the whole Eastern Europe, new hopes for peace were lit up that day, then spreading all over the world. It was, indeed, the prayer for peace of many sons and daughters of God that had contributed to accelerate the fall of the wall. Moreover, the biblical history of Jericho reminds us that the walls fall when they are “besieged” by prayer and not by weapons, with yearnings for peace and not for conquest, when we dream for a good future for all. For this reason it is necessary to pray constantly and to dialogue in the perspective of peace: the fruits will come! Let’s not be afraid, because the Lord listens to the prayer of his faithful people!

Unfortunately, over the first two decades of the XXI century, we have witnessed, with great sadness, the waste of the gift of God that is the peace, which has been dissipated by new wars and by new walls and barriers being raised. After all, we are very aware peace must continuously grow from generation to generation, through the dialogue, the encounter and the negotiation. If one seeks for the good of peoples and the world, it is then illogical to bind the space, to divide peoples, or, even worse, to fight each other, to deny hospitality to those in need. This way the world “falls apart”, by using the same violence with which we spoil the environment and damage our common house, which, instead, needs love, care, respect, as much as humanity calls for peace and brotherhood. The common house does not bear walls separating and creating conflicts amongst its inhabitants. Rather it needs open doors facilitating the communication, the encounter, the cooperation to live together in peace, while respecting the differences and strengthening the bonds of responsibility. Peace is like a house with many rooms where we all are called to live in. Peace has no borders. Always, without exception. This was the longing of Saint John XXIII who, in a difficult time, decided to address all believers and people of goodwill by invoking “peace in all lands”.
Distinguished representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities, and of the great world Religions, through this greeting I want to tell you that I am at your side during these days and together with you, I call for peace from the Only One who can give it to us. In the tradition of these International Meetings of Prayer for Peace – like the one in Assisi in 2016 I participated to – the prayer that rises up to God has the essential and most determining place. We are united by a common feeling, without any confusion. Next to each other, without confusion! As the longing for peace is common, across the variety of experiences and religious traditions.
 

Peace With No Borders Madrid

As believers we are aware prayer is the root of peace. Those who practice it are friends of God, like Abraham was, a model of the man of faith and hope. The prayer for
peace, in this time marked by so many conflicts and violence, unites us all even more, beyond all differences, in the shared commitment for a more fraternal world.
We are aware that brotherhood among believers, besides being a barrier against enmity and wars, is also leaven of brotherhood among peoples. In this spirit, last February I signed, together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” in Abu Dhabi: it is an important step on the path to world peace. Together we stated that «religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood». I wish to also entrust you all, who participate to this meeting of Prayer for Peace, with the proposals of that document. The spirit of Assisi too, 800 years after the encounter of Saint Francis and the Sultan, has inspired the work that led us to the event in Abu Dhabi.
 
We are living in a difficult time for the world. We must come together – I would say, with one single heart and one single voice – to shout that peace has no borders. A cry that rises from our own hearts. Indeed, it is there, in the hearts, where we must eradicate the borders that divide and put one against the other; it is in the hearts where we must sow feeling of peace and brotherhood.
 

Distinguished representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities and the world great Religions, men and women of goodwill participating to this Meeting, the great task of peace has been handed over to you too. May the God of peace bestow us with abundance of wisdom, audacity, generosity, and perseverance.





Pope Francis       01.01.20        Message 53rd World Day of Peace
:Pope Francis  01.01.20 Peace Message - Image 15.05.13

PEACE AS A JOURNEY OF HOPE:
DIALOGUE, RECONCILIATION AND ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION

1. Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial

Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. As a human attitude, our hope for peace is marked by an existential tension that makes it possible for the present, with all its difficulties, to be “lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey”.[1] Hope is thus the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.

Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts that affect especially the poor and the vulnerable. Entire nations find it difficult to break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence. Even today, dignity, physical integrity, freedom, including religious freedom, communal solidarity and hope in the future are denied to great numbers of men and women, young and old. Many are the innocent victims of painful humiliation and exclusion, sorrow and injustice, to say nothing of the trauma born of systematic attacks on their people and their loved ones.

The terrible trials of internal and international conflicts, often aggravated by ruthless acts of violence, have an enduring effect on the body and soul of humanity. Every war is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.

War, as we know, often begins with the inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of aggrandizement and domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other. War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war.

As I observed during my recent Apostolic Journey to Japan, our world is paradoxically marked by “a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue. Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation. They can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family of today and tomorrow”.[2]

Every threatening situation feeds mistrust and leads people to withdraw into their own safety zone. Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace. Even nuclear deterrence can only produce the illusion of security.

We cannot claim to maintain stability in the world through the fear of annihilation, in a volatile situation, suspended on the brink of a nuclear abyss and enclosed behind walls of indifference. As a result, social and economic decisions are being made that lead to tragic situations where human beings and creation itself are discarded rather than protected and preserved.[3] How, then, do we undertake a journey of peace and mutual respect? How do we break the unhealthy mentality of threats and fear? How do we break the current dynamic of distrust?

We need to pursue a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and mutual trust. The desire for peace lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this.

2. Peace, a journey of listening based on memory, solidarity and fraternity

The Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are among those who currently keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened in August 1945 and the unspeakable sufferings that have continued to the present time. Their testimony awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction. “We cannot allow present and future generations to lose the memory of what happened here. It is a memory that ensures and encourages the building of a more fair and fraternal future”.[4]

Like the Hibakusha, many people in today’s world are working to ensure that future generations will preserve the memory of past events, not only in order to prevent the same errors or illusions from recurring, but also to enable memory, as the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace.

What is more, memory is 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.

Setting out on a journey of peace is a challenge made all the more complex because the interests at stake in relationships between people, communities and nations, are numerous and conflicting. We must first appeal to people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will. Peace emerges from the depths of the human heart and political will must always be renewed, so that new ways can be found to reconcile and unite individuals and communities.

The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation. In fact, we cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions. Peace “must be built up continually”;[5] it is a journey made together in constant pursuit of the common good, truthfulness and respect for law. Listening to one another can lead to mutual understanding and esteem, and even to seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.

The peace process thus requires enduring commitment. It is a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honour the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance. In a state based on law, democracy can be an important paradigm of this process, provided it is grounded in justice and a commitment to protect the rights of every person, especially the weak and marginalized, in a constant search for truth.[6] This is a social undertaking, an ongoing work in which each individual makes his or her contribution responsibly, at every level of the local, national and global community.

As Saint Paul VI pointed out, these “two aspirations, to equality and to participation, seek to promote a democratic society… This calls for an education to social life, involving not only the knowledge of each person’s rights, but also its necessary correlative: the recognition of his or her duties with regard to others. The sense and practice of duty are themselves conditioned by the capacity for self-mastery and by the acceptance of responsibility and of the limits placed upon the freedom of individuals or the groups”.[7]

Divisions within a society, the increase of social inequalities and the refusal to employ the means of ensuring integral human development endanger the pursuit of the common good. Yet patient efforts based on the power of the word and of truth can help foster a greater capacity for compassion and creative solidarity.

In our Christian experience, we constantly remember Christ, who gave his life to reconcile us to one another (cf. Rom 5:6-11). The Church shares fully in the search for a just social order; she continues to serve the common good and to nourish the hope for peace by transmitting Christian values and moral teaching, and by her social and educational works.

3. Peace, a journey of reconciliation in fraternal communion

The Bible, especially in the words of the Prophets, reminds individuals and peoples of God’s covenant with humanity, which entails renouncing our desire to dominate others and learning to see one another as persons, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters. We should never encapsulate others in what they may have said or done, but value them for the promise that they embody. Only by choosing the path of respect can we break the spiral of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope.

We are guided by the Gospel passage that tells of the following conversation between Peter and Jesus: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22). This path of reconciliation is a summons to discover in the depths of our heart the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters. When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace.

What is true of peace in a social context is also true in the areas of politics and the economy, since peace permeates every dimension of life in common. There can be no true peace unless we show ourselves capable of developing a more just economic system. As Pope Benedict XVI said ten years ago in his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, “in order to defeat underdevelopment, action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but above all on graduallyincreasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion” (No. 39).

4. Peace, a journey of ecological conversion

“If a mistaken understanding of our own principles has at times led us to justify mistreating nature, to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in war, injustice and acts of violence, we believers should acknowledge that by so doing we were not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we have been called to protect and preserve”.[8]

Faced with 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 – we are in need of an ecological conversion. The recent Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region moves us to make a pressing renewed call for a peaceful relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, between experience and hope.

This journey of reconciliation also calls for listening and contemplation of the world that God has given us as a gift to make our common home. Indeed, natural resources, the many forms of life and the earth itself have been entrusted to us “to till and keep” (Gen 1:15), also for future generations, through the responsible and active participation of everyone. We need to change the way we think and see things, and to become more open to encountering others and accepting the gift of creation, which reflects the beauty and wisdom of its Creator.

All this gives us deeper motivation and a new way to dwell in our common home, to accept our differences, to respect and celebrate the life that we have received and share, and to seek living conditions and models of society that favour the continued flourishing of life and the development of the common good of the entire human family.

The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation. This conversion must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life. For Christians, it requires that “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them”.[9]

5. “We obtain all that we hope for”[10]

The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for.

In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.

Fear is frequently a source of conflict. So it is important to overcome our human fears and acknowledge that we are needy children in the eyes of the One who loves us and awaits us, like the father of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11-24). The culture of fraternal encounter shatters the culture of conflict. It makes of every encounter a possibility and a gift of God’s generous love. It leads us beyond the limits of our narrow horizons and constantly encourages us to a live in a spirit of universal fraternity, as children of the one heavenly Father.

For the followers of Christ, this journey is likewise sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, given by the Lord for the remission of sins of the baptized. This sacrament of the Church, which renews individuals and communities, bids us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who reconciled “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). It requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation.

The grace of God our Father 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.

May the God of peace bless us and come to our aid.

May Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Mother of all the peoples of the earth, accompany and sustain us at every step of our journey of reconciliation.

And may all men and women who come into this world experience a life of peace and develop fully the promise of life and love dwelling in their heart.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2019

Franciscus

[1] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (30 November 2007), 1.

[2] Address on Nuclear Weapons, Nagasaki, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter, 24 November 2019.

[3] Cf. Homily at Lampedusa, 8 July 2013.

[4] Address on Peace, Hiroshima, Peace Memorial, 24 November 2019.

[5] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 78.

[6] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Italian Christian Workers’ Associations, 27 January 2006.

[7] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (14 May 1971), 24.

[8] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015).

[9] Ibid., 217.

[10] Cf. SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, Noche obscura, II, 21,8.




Pope Francis     09.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Thursday after Epiphany Year A      1 John 4: 11-18


We cannot be Christians if we are sowers of war in our family, in our neighbourhood and our workplace. May the Lord give us the Holy Spirit to remain in Him and teach us to love, simply, without making war on others. 

In the first reading in todays liturgy St. John urges Christians on the path to peace by remaining in the Lord with the love that is seen in little things.
When we talk about peace we immediately think of wars and that there are no wars in the world, that there is secure peace, it is the image that always comes to us, peace and not wars, but always in another country or another situation. Even today, with many fires of war burning, our minds immediately go there when we speak of peace, when we pray that the Lord will give us peace. And that is fine: and we must pray for peace in the world, we must always have before us this gift of God which is peace and ask for it for everyone.

We all must ask ourselves about peace at home, whether our hearts are at peace or are anxious, always at war, in tension to gain something more, to dominate, to make ourselves heard. The peace of the people or of a country is sown in the heart. If we do not have peace in our hearts, as we think, will there be peace in the world? Yet , normally we don't think about it. Todays first reading of St John the Apostle points us the way, the path to peace within: to remain in the Lord.

Where the Lord is there is peace. It is He who makes peace, it is the Holy Spirit that he sends to make peace within us. If we remain in the Lord, our hearts will be at peace; and if we habitually remain in the Lord when we slip on a sin or defect, it will be the Spirit that makes us know this mistake, this slip. Stay in the Lord. And how do we stay in the Lord? The Apostle says, "If we love each other." That is the answer, this is the secret of peace.

True love is not that of soap operas and television shows but what drives us to speak good of others: otherwise, if I can't speak well I should close my mouth, and do not talk about it and I should not say bad things. Because speaking ill of other and skinning them is war. Love shows itself in the little things because if there is war in my heart there will be war in my family, there will be war in my neighbourhood and there will be war in the workplace. Jealousies, envy, slander lead us to wage war with each other. They destroy, they are like dirt. Let us once again reflect on how many times we speak in a spirit of peace and how many with a spirit of war, how many times we are able to say: everyone has his sins, I look at mine and others will have theirs , so you close the mouth.

Usually our way of acting in the family, in the neighbourhood, in the workplace is an attitude of war: to destroy the other, to dirty the other. And this is not love, this is not the sure peace that we have asked for in prayer. When we do this, there is no Holy Spirit. And this happens to each of us, each. The reaction comes to immediately condemn the other. Whether you are a lay person, a priest, a religious person, a bishop, a Pope, everyone, everyone. It is the temptation of the devil to wage war.
And when the devil manages to make us wage war and lights that fire, he is happy, he does not have to work anymore: we are working to destroy each other, we carry on the war, the destruction, destroying first ourselves, because we throw out love, and then the others. In fact he is dependent on this habit of dirtying others: it is a seed that the devil has put inside us. 

Let us pray a secure peace, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit, by trying to remain in the Lord.





Pope Francis   15.04.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace - Catechesis on the Beatitudes       Matthew 5:9

Poep Francis talks about Peace 15.04.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's catechesis is dedicated to the seventh Beatitude, that of the "peacemakers", who are proclaimed children of God. I am happy that this one falls right after Easter, because the peace of Christ is a fruit of his death and resurrection, as we heard from the letter of St. Paul. To understand this Beatitude, one must explain the meaning of the word "peace", which can be misunderstood or sometimes trivialized.

We must orient ourselves between two ideas of peace: the first is the biblical one, where the beautiful word shalòm appears, which expresses abundance, flourishing, well-being. When one wishes shalòm on someone in Hebrew, the desire is that of a life that is beautiful, full, prosperous, but also one in accord with truth and justice, which would be fulfilled in the Messiah, Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:6; Mic 5.4-5).

Then there is the other, more widespread sense, in which the word "peace" is understood as a kind of inner tranquility: I am quiet, I am at peace. This is a modern, psychological and more subjective idea. It is commonly thought that peace is quiet, harmony, internal balance. This meaning of the word "peace" is incomplete and cannot be absolutized, because in life anxieties can be an important time to growth. So often it is the Lord himself who sows restlessness in us so that we go to him, to find him. In this sense it is an important moment of growth; while it may happen that inner tranquility corresponds to a tame consciousness and not to true spiritual redemption. Many times the Lord must be a "sign of contradiction" (cf. Luke 2:34-35), shaking our false security, to bring us to salvation. And at that moment it seems that we are not at peace, but it is the Lord who puts us on this path to achieve the peace that He himself will give us.

Regarding this point we must remember that the Lord means his peace as different from that of the human one, that of the world, when he says: "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you"(John 14:27). Jesus' peace is another peace, different from the worldly one.

Let us ask ourselves: how does the world give peace? If we think of the conflicts of war, wars usually end in two ways: either with the defeat of either side, or with peace treaties. We can only wish and pray that this second way will always be the one opted for; however, we must consider that history is an endless series of peace treaties broken by successive wars, or by the transformation of those same wars in other ways or in other places. Even in our time, a piecemeal war is being fought on various fronts and in various ways. We must at least suspect that in the context of a globalization made up mainly of economic or financial interests, the "peace" of some corresponds to the "war" of others. And this is not The peace of Christ! 

Instead, how does the Lord Jesus "give" his peace? We have heard St. Paul say that Christ's peace is "making both one" (cf. Eph 2:14), to end enmity and to reconcile. And the way to accomplish this work of peace is his body. In fact, he reconciles all things and makes peace with the blood of his cross, as the same Apostle himself says elsewhere (cf. Col 1:20).

And here I ask myself, and we can all ask ourselves: who are, therefore, the "peacemakers"? The seventh Beatitude is the most active, explicitly operative; the verbal expression is analogous to that used in the first verse of the Bible for creation and indicates initiative and industriousness. Love by its nature is creative – love is always creative – and seeks reconciliation at any cost. Those who have learned the art of peace and exercise it are called children of God, they know that there is no reconciliation without the gift of their own life, and that peace must always be sought and in every case. Always and in every case: don't forget this! It must be sought this way. This is not an autonomous work that is the result of one's own abilities, it is a manifestation of the grace received by Christ, who is our peace, who has made us children of God.

True shalòm and true inner balance flow from the peace of Christ, which comes from his Cross and generates a new humanity, incarnated in an infinite host of inventive and creative saints, who have come up with new ways to love. The Saints, the Saints who made peace. This life as children of God, who by the blood of Christ seek and find their brothers and sisters , is true happiness. Blessed are those who take that path.

And again happy Easter to everyone, in the peace of Christ!





Pope Francis  12.05.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter    John 14: 27-31

Pope Francis  Peace 12.05.20

Today is Nurse's Day. I sent a message yesterday. Let us pray today for the nurses, men, women, and young people, who practice this profession, which is more than a profession, it is a vocation, a dedication. May the Lord bless them. In this time of the pandemic they have set an example of heroism and some have given their lives. Let us pray for the nurses.

The Lord greets his people before leaving and gives then the gift of peace (John 14: 27-31), the peace of the Lord: "I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you" (14: 27). It is not about universal peace, that peace without wars that we all want to be there always, but the peace of the heart, the peace of the soul, the peace that each of us has within us. And the Lord gives it but, emphasises, "not as the world gives " (see 27). 

How does the world give peace and how does the Lord give it? Are they different types of peace? Yes. The world gives you "inner peace", we are talking about this, the peace of your life, this living with your heart in peace. It gives you inner peace as your possession, as a thing that is yours and isolates you from others, keeps you in you, it is your acquisition: I have peace. And without realizing it, you close yourself in that peace, it is a peace a little for you, for one; it is a lonely peace, it is a peace that makes you calm, even happy. And in this tranquillity, in this happiness you fall asleep a little; it anesthetizes you and makes you stay with yourself in a certain tranquillity. It's a little selfish: peace for me, closed in on me. This is how the world gives it (see v. 27). It's an expensive peace because you have to constantly change the instruments of peace: when you get excited about one thing, it gives you peace, then it ends and you have to find another. It's expensive because it's temporary and sterile.

Instead, the peace that Jesus gives is something else. It's a peace that sets you in motion: it doesn't isolate you, it sets you up, it makes you go to others, it creates communities, it creates communication. That of the world is expensive, Jesus' is free, it is free; it is a gift from the Lord: the peace of the Lord. It's fruitful, it always moves you forward. 

An example from the Gospel that makes me think of what world peace is like, is that gentleman who had the barns full and that year's harvest seemed to be bountiful and he thought, "But I'll have to build more barns, other barns to put this in and then I'll be tranquil. It's my peace of mind, with this I can live peacefully." "Fool, says God, tonight you will die" ( Luke 12: 13-21). It is a temporary peace, which does not open the door to the afterlife. Instead the peace of the Lord is open to where he has gone, is open to Heaven, is open to Paradise. It is a fruitful peace that opens oneself up and also brings others with you to Paradise. 

I think it will help us to think a little: what is my peace, where do I find peace? In things, in well-being, in travel – but now, today we cannot travel – in possessions, in so many things, or do I find peace as a gift of the Lord? Do I have to pay for peace or do I receive it for free from the Lord? What is my peace? When I miss something, do I get angry? This is not the Peace of the Lord. This is one of the tests. Am I calm in my peace, "Do I fall asleep"? It's not the Lord's. Am I at peace and want to communicate it to others and accomplish something? That is the peace of the Lord! Even in bad, difficult times, does that peace remain in me? It's the Lord's. And the peace of the Lord is fruitful also for me because it is full of hope, that is, it looks toward Heaven. 

Yesterday. Excuse me if I say about these things, but these are things about my life that do me good. Yesterday I received a letter from a priest, a good priest, and he told me that I speak little of Heaven, that I should speak more. And he's right, he's right. That is why today I wanted to emphasize this: that peace, the one that Jesus gives us, is a peace for now and for the future. It is to start living in Heaven, with the fruitfulness of Heaven. It's not anaesthesia. The other, yes: you anaesthetize yourself with the things of the world and when the dose of this anaesthesia ends you take another and another and another. This is a definitive, fruitful and contagious peace. It is not narcissistic, because it always looks to the Lord. The other one looks at you, it's a little narcissistic.

May the Lord give us this peace full of hope, which makes us fruitful, makes us communicative with others, that creates community and that always looks to the definitive peace of Heaven.




Pope Francis        20.10.20 Capitoline Hill, Rome    International Meeting of Prayer for Peace - "No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity"      Mark 15: 25-32 
Moment of Christian Prayer for Peace - Homily in the Church of Saint Maria in Aracoeli

Pope Francis Homily  International Meeting of Prayer for Peace 20.10.20

It is a gift to pray together. I greet all of you cordially and with gratitude, especially my brother, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and dear Bishop Heinrich, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany. Sadly, Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was unable to be here because of the pandemic.

The passage from the account of the Lord's Passion that we have just heard comes shortly before Jesus’ death. It speaks of the temptation he experienced amid the agony of the cross. At the supreme moment of his sufferings and love, many of those present cruelly taunted him with the words: “Save yourself!” (Mk 15:30). This is a great temptation. It spares no one, including us Christians. The temptation to think only of saving ourselves and our own circle. To focus only on our own problems and interests, as if nothing else mattered. It is a very human instinct, but wrong. It was the final temptation of the crucified God.

Save yourself. These words were spoken first “by those who passed by” (v. 29). They were ordinary people, those who had heard Jesus teach and who witnessed his miracles. Now they are telling him, “Save yourself, come down from the cross”. They had no pity, they only wanted miracles; they wanted to see Jesus descend from the cross. Sometimes we too prefer a wonder-working god to one who is compassionate, a god powerful in the eyes of the world, who shows his might and scatters those who wish us ill. But this is not God, but our own creation. How often do we want a god in our own image, rather than to become conformed to his own image. We want a god like ourselves, rather than becoming ourselves like God. In this way, we prefer the worship of ourselves to the worship of God. Such worship is nurtured and grows through indifference toward others. Those passers-by were only interested in Jesus for the satisfaction of their own desires. Jesus, reduced to an outcast hanging on the cross, was no longer of interest to them. He was before their eyes, yet far from their hearts. Indifference kept them far from the true face of God.

Save yourself. The next people to speak those words were the chief priests and the scribes. They were the ones who had condemned Jesus, for they considered him dangerous. All of us, though, are specialists in crucifying others to save ourselves. Yet Jesus allowed himself to be crucified, in order to teach us not to shift evil to others. The chief priests accused him precisely because of what he had done for others: “He saved others and cannot save himself!"(v. 31). They knew Jesus; they remembered the healings and liberating miracles he performed, but they drew a malicious conclusion. For them, saving others, coming to their aid, is useless; Jesus, who gave himself unreservedly for others was himself lost! The mocking tone of the accusation is garbed in religious language, twice using the verb to save. But the “gospel” of save yourself is not the Gospel of salvation. It is the falsest of the apocryphal gospels, making others carry the cross. Whereas the true Gospel bids us take up the cross of others.

Save yourself. Finally, those who were crucified alongside Jesus also joined in taunting him. How easy it is to criticize, to speak against others, to point to the evil in others but not in ourselves, even to blaming the weak and the outcast! But why were they upset with Jesus? Because he did not take them down from the cross they said to him: “Save yourself and us!” (Lk 23:39). They looked to Jesus only to resolve their problems. Yet God does not come only to free us from our ever-present daily problems, but rather to liberate us from the real problem, which is the lack of love. This is the primary cause of our personal, social, international and environmental ills. Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils. Yet one of the thieves then looks at Jesus and sees in him a humble love. He entered heaven by doing one thing alone: turning his concern from himself to Jesus, from himself to the person next to him (cf. v. 42).

Dear brothers and sisters, Calvary was the site of a great “duel” between God, who came to save us, and man, who wants to save only himself; between faith in God and worship of self; between man who accuses and God who excuses. In the end, God's victory was revealed; his mercy came down upon the earth. From the cross forgiveness poured forth and fraternal love was reborn: “the Cross makes us brothers and sisters” (BENEDICT XVI, Address at the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 21 March 2008). Jesus’ arms, outstretched on the cross, mark the turning point, for God points a finger at no one, but instead embraces all. For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us.

Let us look upon the crucified God and ask him to grant us the grace to be more united and more fraternal. When we are tempted to follow the way of this world, may we be reminded of Jesus's words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:35). What is counted loss in the eyes of the world is, for us, salvation. May we learn from the Lord, who saved us by emptying himself (cf. Phil 2:7) and becoming other: from being God, he became man; from spirit, he became flesh; from a king, he became a slave. He asks us to do the same, to humble ourselves, to “become other” in order to reach out to others. The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and “universal”, since we will feel responsible for others. And others will become the means of our own salvation: all others, every human person, whatever his or her history and beliefs. Beginning with the poor, who are those most like Christ. The great Archbishop of Constantinople, Saint John Chrysostom, once wrote: “If there were no poor, the greater part of our salvation would be overthrown” (On the Second Letter to the Corinthians, XVII, 2). May the Lord help us to journey together on the path of fraternity, and thus to become credible witnesses of the living God.


Address in Piazza del Campidoglio


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I rejoice and give thanks to God that here on the Capitoline Hill, in the heart of Rome, I can meet with you, distinguished religious leaders, public authorities and so many friends of peace. At each other’s side, we have prayed for peace. I greet the President of the Italian Republic, the Honourable Sergio Mattarella. I am happy to encounter once more my brother, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew. I am most grateful that, despite the difficulties of travel these days, he and other leaders wished to take part in this prayer meeting. In the spirit of the Assisi Meeting called by Saint John Paul II in 1986, the Community of Sant’Egidio celebrates annually, in different cities, this moment of prayer and dialogue for peace among believers of various religions.

The Assisi meeting and its vision of peace contained a prophetic seed that by God’s grace has gradually matured through unprecedented encounters, acts of peacemaking and fresh initiatives of fraternity. Although the intervening years have witnessed painful events, including conflicts, terrorism and radicalism, at times in the name of religion, we must also acknowledge the fruitful steps undertaken in the dialogue between the religions. This is a sign of hope that encourages us to continue cooperating as brothers and sisters. In this way, we arrived at the important Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which I signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in 2019.

Indeed, “the commandment of peace is inscribed in the depths of the religious traditions” (Fratelli Tutti, 284). Believers have understood that religious differences do not justify indifference or enmity. Rather, on the basis of our religious faith we are enabled to become peacemakers, rather than standing passively before the evil of war and hatred. Religions stand at the service of peace and fraternity. For this reason, our present gathering also represents an incentive to religious leaders and to all believers to pray fervently for peace, never resigned to war, but working with the gentle strength of faith to end conflicts.

We need peace! More peace! “We cannot remain indifferent. Today the world has a profound thirst for peace. In many countries, people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty” (Address to Participants in the World Day of Prayer for Peace, Assisi, 20 January 2016). The world, political life and public opinion all run the risk of growing inured to the evil of war, as if it were simply a part of human history. “Let us not remain mired in theoretical discussions, but touch the wounded flesh of the victims… Let us think of the refugees and displaced, those who suffered the effects of atomic radiation and chemical attacks, the mothers who lost their children, and the boys and girls maimed or deprived of their childhood” (Fratelli Tutti, 261). Today the sufferings of war are aggravated by the suffering caused by the coronavirus and the impossibility, in many countries, of access to necessary care.

In the meantime, conflicts continue, bringing in their wake suffering and death. To put an end to war is a solemn duty before God incumbent on all those holding political responsibilities. Peace is the priority of all politics. God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts. He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war that have passed and been endured by the world’s peoples!

The words Jesus spoke to Peter are incisive and full of wisdom: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26:52). Those who wield the sword, possibly in the belief that it will resolve difficult situations quickly, will know in their own lives, the lives of their loved ones and the lives of their countries, the death brought by the sword. “Enough!” says Jesus (Lk 22:38), when his disciples produce two swords before the Passion. “Enough!” That is his unambiguous response to any form of violence. That single word of Jesus echoes through the centuries and reaches us forcefully in our own time: enough of swords, weapons, violence and war!

Saint Paul VI echoed that word in his appeal to the United Nations in 1965: “No more war!” This is our plea, and that of all men and women of goodwill. It is the dream of all who strive work for peace in the realization that “every war leaves our world worse than it was before” (Fratelli Tutti, 261).

How do we find a way out of intransigent and festering conflicts? How do we untangle the knots so many armed struggles? How do we prevent conflicts? How do we inspire thoughts of peace in warlords and those who rely on the strength of arms? No people, no social group, can single-handedly achieve peace, prosperity, security and happiness. None. The lesson learned from the recent pandemic, if we wish to be honest, is “the awareness that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together” (Fratelli Tutti, 32).

Fraternity, born of the realization that we are a single human family, must penetrate the life of peoples, communities, government leaders and international assemblies. This will help everyone to understand that we can only be saved together through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 231).

We have gathered this evening, as persons of different religious traditions, in order to send a message of peace. To show clearly that the religions do not want war and, indeed, disown those who would enshrine violence. That they ask everyone to pray for reconciliation and to strive to enable fraternity to pave new paths of hope. For indeed, with God's help, it will be possible to build a world of peace, and thus, brothers and sisters, to be saved together. Thank you.

Gathered in Rome, in “the spirit of Assisi”, and spiritually united to believers worldwide and to all men and women of good will, we have prayed alongside one another to invoke upon our world the gift of peace. We have called to mind the wounds of humanity, we are united with the silent prayers of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters, all too often nameless and unheard. We now solemnly commit ourselves to make our own and to propose to the leaders of nations and the citizens of the world this Appeal for Peace.

On this Capitoline Hill, in the wake of the greatest conflict in history, the nations that had been at war made a pact based on a dream of unity that later came true: the dream of a united Europe. Today, in these uncertain times, as we feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens peace by aggravating inequalities and fear, we firmly state that no one can be saved alone: no people, no single individual!

Wars and peace, pandemics and health care, hunger and access to food, global warming and sustainable development, the displacement of populations, the elimination of nuclear threats and the reduction of inequalities: these are not matters that concern individual nations alone. We understand this better nowadays, in a world that is amply connected, yet often lacks a sense of fraternity. All of us are brothers and sisters! Let us pray to the Most High that, after this time of trial, there may no longer be “others”, but rather, a great “we”, rich in diversity. The time has come to boldly dream anew that peace is possible, that it is necessary, that a world without war is not utopian. This is why we want to say once more: “No more war”!

Tragically, for many, war once again seems to be one possible means of resolving international disputes. It is not. Before it is too late, we would remind everyone that war always leaves the world worse than it was. War is a failure of politics and of humanity.

We appeal to government leaders to reject the language of division, often based on fear and mistrust, and to avoid embarking on paths of no return. Together let us look at the victims. All too many conflicts are presently in course.

To leaders of nations we say: let us work together to create a new architecture of peace. Let us join forces to promote life, health, education and peace. The time has come to divert the resources employed in producing ever more destructive and deadly weapons to choosing life and to caring for humanity and our common home. Let us waste no time! Let us start with achievable goals: may we immediately unite our efforts to contain the spread of the virus until there is a vaccine that is suitable and available to all. The pandemic is reminding us that we are blood brothers and sisters.

To all believers, and to men and women of good will, we say: let us become creative artisans of peace, let us build social friendship, let us make our own the culture of dialogue. Honest, persistent and courageous dialogue is the antidote to distrust, division and violence. Dialogue dismantles at the outset the arguments for wars that destroy the fraternity to which our human family is called.

No one can feel exempted from this. All of us have a shared responsibility. All of us need to forgive and to be forgiven. The injustices of the world and of history are not healed by hatred and revenge, but by dialogue and forgiveness.

May God inspire in us a commitment to these ideals and to the journey that we are making together. May he touch every heart and make us heralds of peace.



Appeal for Peace in Piazza del Campidoglio
Pope Francis International Meeting of Prayer for Peace Appeal for PEACE 20.10.20


Gathered in Rome, in “the spirit of Assisi”, and spiritually united to believers worldwide and to all men and women of good will, we have prayed alongside one another to invoke upon our world the gift of peace. We have called to mind the wounds of humanity, we are united with the silent prayers of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters, all too often nameless and unheard. We now solemnly commit ourselves to make our own and to propose to the leaders of nations and the citizens of the world this Appeal for Peace.

On this Capitoline Hill, in the wake of the greatest conflict in history, the nations that had been at war made a pact based on a dream of unity that later came true: the dream of a united Europe. Today, in these uncertain times, as we feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens peace by aggravating inequalities and fear, we firmly state that no one can be saved alone: no people, no single individual!

Wars and peace, pandemics and health care, hunger and access to food, global warming and sustainable development, the displacement of populations, the elimination of nuclear threats and the reduction of inequalities: these are not matters that concern individual nations alone. We understand this better nowadays, in a world that is amply connected, yet often lacks a sense of fraternity. All of us are brothers and sisters! Let us pray to the Most High that, after this time of trial, there may no longer be “others”, but rather, a great “we”, rich in diversity. The time has come to boldly dream anew that peace is possible, that it is necessary, that a world without war is not utopian. This is why we want to say once more: “No more war”!

Tragically, for many, war once again seems to be one possible means of resolving international disputes. It is not. Before it is too late, we would remind everyone that war always leaves the world worse than it was. War is a failure of politics and of humanity.

We appeal to government leaders to reject the language of division, often based on fear and mistrust, and to avoid embarking on paths of no return. Together let us look at the victims. All too many conflicts are presently in course.

To leaders of nations we say: let us work together to create a new architecture of peace. Let us join forces to promote life, health, education and peace. The time has come to divert the resources employed in producing ever more destructive and deadly weapons to choosing life and to caring for humanity and our common home. Let us waste no time! Let us start with achievable goals: may we immediately unite our efforts to contain the spread of the virus until there is a vaccine that is suitable and available to all. The pandemic is reminding us that we are blood brothers and sisters.

To all believers, and to men and women of good will, we say: let us become creative artisans of peace, let us build social friendship, let us make our own the culture of dialogue. Honest, persistent and courageous dialogue is the antidote to distrust, division and violence. Dialogue dismantles at the outset the arguments for wars that destroy the fraternity to which our human family is called.

No one can feel exempted from this. All of us have a shared responsibility. All of us need to forgive and to be forgiven. The injustices of the world and of history are not healed by hatred and revenge, but by dialogue and forgiveness.

May God inspire in us a commitment to these ideals and to the journey that we are making together. May he touch every heart and make us heralds of peace.





Pope Francis           01.01.21               Message 54th World Day of Peace


A CULTURE OF CARE AS A PATH TO PEACE
Peace


1. At the dawn of a new year, I extend cordial greetings to Heads of State and Government, leaders of International Organizations, spiritual leaders and followers of the different religions, and to men and women of good will. To all I offer my best wishes that the coming year will enable humanity to advance on the path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.

The year 2020 was marked by the massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship. I think especially of all those who lost family members or loved ones, and all who lost their jobs. I think too of physicians and nurses, pharmacists, researchers, volunteers, chaplains and the personnel of hospitals and healthcare centres. They have made, and are continuing to make, great sacrifices to be present to the sick, to alleviate their sufferings and to save their lives; indeed, many of them have died in the process. In paying tribute to them, I renew my appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick, the poor and those who are most vulnerable.[1]

Sad to say, alongside all these testimonies of love and solidarity, we have also seen a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake.

These and other events that marked humanity’s path this past year have taught us how important it is to care for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. That is why I have chosen as the title of this year’s Message, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.

2. God the Creator, the source of our human vocation to care

Many religious traditions have accounts of the origin of human beings and their relationship with the Creator, with nature and with their fellow men and women. In the Bible, the Book of Genesis shows from its very first pages the importance of care or protection in God’s plan for humanity. It highlights the relationship between man (’adam) and the earth (’adamah), and among ourselves as brothers and sisters. In the biblical account of creation, God entrusts the garden “planted in Eden” (cf. Gen 2:8) to Adam’s care, to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). This entails making the earth productive, while at the same time protecting it and preserving its capacity to support life.[2] The verbs “till” and “keep” describe Adam’s relationship to his garden home, but also the trust God placed in him by making him master and guardian of all creation.

The birth of Cain and Abel begins a history of brothers and sisters, whose relationship is understood – even by Cain, however mistakenly – in terms of protection or “keeping”. After killing his brother Abel, Cain answers God’s question by saying: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).[3] Cain, like all of us, was called to be “his brother’s keeper”. “These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others”.[4]

3. God the Creator, a model of care

Sacred Scripture presents God not only as Creator, but also as one who cares for his creatures, especially Adam, Eve and their offspring. Albeit cursed for the crime he committed, Cain was given a mark of protection by the Creator, so that his life could be spared (cf. Gen 4:15). While confirming the inviolable dignity of the person created in God’s image and likeness, this was also a sign of God’s plan to preserve the harmony of his creation, since “peace and violence cannot dwell together”.[5]

Care for creation was at the heart of the institution of the Sabbath, which, in addition to ordering divine worship, aimed at the restoration of the social order and concern for the poor (cf. Gen 1:1-3; Lev 25:4). The celebration of the Jubilee every seventh sabbatical year provided a respite for the land, for slaves and for those in debt. In that year of grace, those in greatest need were cared for and given a new chance in life, so that there would be no poor among the people (cf. Deut 15:4).

In the prophetic tradition, the biblical understanding of justice found its highest expression in the way a community treats its weakest members. Amos (cf. 2:6-8; 8) and Isaiah (cf. 58), in particular, insistently demand justice for the poor, who, in their vulnerability and powerlessness, cry out and are heard by God, who watches over them (cf. Ps 34:7; 113:7-8).

4. Care in the ministry of Jesus


Jesus’ life and ministry represent the supreme revelation of the Father’s love for humanity (cf. Jn 3:16). In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus showed himself to be the one consecrated by the Lord and “sent to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18). These messianic actions, associated with the Jubilee year, bear eloquent witness to the mission he received from the Father. In his compassion, Christ drew near to the sick in body and spirit, and brought them healing; he pardoned sinners and gave them new life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:11-18; Ezek 34:1-31). He is the Good Samaritan who stoops to help the injured man, binds his wounds and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:30-37).


At the culmination of his mission, Jesus gave the ultimate proof of his care for us by offering himself on the cross to set us free from the slavery of sin and death. By the sacrificial gift of his life, he opened for us the path of love. To each of us he says, “Follow me; go and do likewise” (cf. Lk 10:37).


5. A culture of care in the life of Jesus’ followers

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy were at the heart of charity as practised by the early Church. The first generation of Christians shared what they had, so that no one among them would be in need (cf. Acts 4:34-35). They strove to make their community a welcoming home, concerned for every human need and ready to care for those most in need. It became customary to make voluntary offerings in order to feed the poor, bury the dead and care for orphans, the elderly and victims of disasters like shipwrecks. In later times, when the generosity of Christians had lost its initial fervour, some Fathers of the Church insisted that property was meant by God for the common good. For Saint Ambrose, “nature poured out all things for the common use of all… and thus produced a common right for all, but greed has made it a right for only a few”.[6] After the persecutions of the first centuries, the Church used her newfound freedom to inspire society and its culture. “The needs of the times called forth new efforts in the service of Christian charity. History records innumerable examples of practical works of mercy… The Church’s work among the poor was to a great extent highly organized. There arose many institutions for the relief of every human need: hospitals, poor houses, orphanages, foundling homes, shelters for travelers ...”[7]

6. The principles of the Church’s social doctrine as the basis for a culture of care

The diakonia of the Church’s origins, enriched by the reflection of the Fathers and enlivened over the centuries by the active charity of many luminous witnesses to the faith, became the beating heart of the Church’s social doctrine. This doctrine is offered to all people of good will as a precious patrimony of principles, criteria and proposals that can serve as a “grammar” of care: commitment to promoting the dignity of each human person, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the pursuit of the common good and concern for protection of creation.

Care as promotion of the dignity and rights of each person

“The very concept of the person, which originated and developed in Christianity, fosters the pursuit of a fully human development. Person always signifies relationship, not individualism; it affirms inclusion, not exclusion, unique and inviolable dignity, not exploitation”.[8] Each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness. Persons are created to live together in families, communities and societies, where all are equal in dignity. Human rights derive from this dignity, as do human duties, like the responsibility to welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded, every one of our “neighbours, near or far in space and time”.[9]

Care for the common good

Every aspect of social, political and economic life achieves its fullest end when placed at the service of the common good, in other words, “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily”.[10] Consequently, our plans and projects should always take into account their effects on the entire human family, and consider their consequences for the present and for coming generations. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the truth and timeliness of this fact. In the face of the pandemic, “we have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together”,[11] since “no one reaches salvation by themselves”[12] and no state can ensure the common good of its population if it remains isolated.[13]

Care through solidarity

Solidarity concretely expresses our love for others, not as a vague sentiment but as a “firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”.[14] Solidarity helps us to regard others – whether as individuals or, more broadly, as peoples or nations – as more than mere statistics, or as a means to be used and then discarded once no longer useful, but as our neighbours, companions on our journey, called like ourselves to partake of the banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God.

Care and protection of creation

The Encyclical Laudato Si’ is fully aware that all creation is interconnected. It also highlights our need to listen to the cry of the poor and, at the same time, to the cry of creation. Constant and attentive listening leads in turn to effective care for the earth, our common home, and for our brothers and sisters in need. Here I would once again point out that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be authentic if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings”.[15] “Peace, justice and care for creation are three inherently connected questions, which cannot be separated in such a way as to be treated individually, lest we fall back into reductionism”.[16]

7. A compass pointing to a common path

At a time dominated by a culture of waste, faced with growing inequalities both within and between nations,[17] I urge government leaders and those of international organizations, business leaders, scientists, communicators and educators, to take up these principles as a “compass” capable of pointing out a common direction and ensuring “a more humane future”[18] in the process of globalization. This will enable us to esteem the value and dignity of every person, to act together in solidarity for the common good, and to bring relief to those suffering from poverty, disease, slavery, armed conflicts, and discrimination. I ask everyone to take this compass in hand and to become a prophetic witness of the culture of care, working to overcome the many existing social inequalities. This can only come about through a widespread and meaningful involvement on the part of women, in the family and in every social, political and institutional sphere.

The compass of these social principles, so essential for the growth of a culture of care, also points to the need for relationships between nations to be inspired by fraternity, mutual respect, solidarity and the observance of international law. In this regard, we must recognize the need to defend and promote fundamental human rights, which are inalienable, universal and indivisible.[19]

Likewise urgent is the need to respect humanitarian law, especially at this time when conflicts and wars continue uninterrupted. Tragically, many regions and communities can no longer remember a time when they dwelt in security and peace. Numerous cities have become epicentres of insecurity: citizens struggle to maintain their normal routine in the face of indiscriminate attacks by explosives, artillery and small arms. Children are unable to study. Men and women cannot work to support their families. Famine is spreading in places where it was previously unknown. People are being forced to take flight, leaving behind not only their homes but also their family history and their cultural roots.

While such conflicts have many causes, the result is always the same: destruction and humanitarian crises. We need to stop and ask ourselves what has led our world to see conflict as something normal, and how our hearts can be converted and our ways of thinking changed, in order to work for true peace in solidarity and fraternity.

How many resources are spent on weaponry, especially nuclear weapons,[20] that could be used for more significant priorities such as ensuring the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care. Global problems like the present Covid-19 pandemic and climate change have only made these challenges all the more evident. What a courageous decision it would be to “establish a ‘Global Fund’ with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries”![21]

8. Educating for a culture of care

Promoting a culture of care calls for a process of education. The “compass” of social principles can prove useful and reliable in a variety of interrelated contexts. Let me offer a few examples:

- Educating people to care begins in the family, the natural and fundamental nucleus of society, in which we learn how to live and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect. Yet families need to be empowered to carry out this vital and indispensable task.

- Together with the family, schools and universities – and, in some respects, the communications media – are also responsible for education.[22] They are called to pass on a system of values based on the recognition of the dignity of each person, each linguistic, ethnic and religious community and each people, as well as the fundamental rights arising from that recognition. Education is one of the pillars of a more just and fraternal society.

- Religions in general, and religious leaders in particular, can play an indispensable role in handing on to their followers, and to society at large, the values of solidarity, respect for differences, and concern for our brothers and sisters in need. Here I think of the words spoken in 1969 by Pope Paul VI to the Ugandan Parliament: “Have no fear of the Church; she honours you, she educates honest and loyal citizens for you, she does not foment rivalries and divisions, she seeks to promote healthy liberty, social justice, and peace. If she has any preference at all, it is for the poor, for the education of little ones and of the people, for the care of the suffering and abandoned”.[23]

- Once more I encourage all those engaged in public service and in international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, and all those others who in various ways are involved in the areas of education and research, to work towards the goal of a “more open and inclusive education, involving patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding”.[24] It is my hope that this appeal, made in the context of the Global Compact on Education, will be broadly acknowledged and accepted.

9. There can be no peace without a culture of care

The culture of care thus calls for a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity and good of all, a willingness to show care and compassion, to work for reconciliation and healing, and to advance mutual respect and acceptance. As such, it represents a privileged path to peace. “In many parts of the world, there is a need for paths of peace to heal open wounds. There is also a need for peacemakers, men and women prepared to work boldly and creatively to initiate processes of healing and renewed encounter”.[25]

At a time like this, when the barque of humanity, tossed by the storm of the current crisis, struggles to advance towards a calmer and more serene horizon, the “rudder” of human dignity and the “compass” of fundamental social principles can enable us together to steer a sure course. As Christians, we should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope. May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance. May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way;[26] instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, “to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another”.[27]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2020

Franciscus

[1] Cf. Video Message to the Seventy-fifth Meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2020.
[2] Cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 67.
[3] Cf. “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace”, Message for the 2014 World Day of Peace (8 December 2013), 2.
[4] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 70.
[5] PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 488.
[6] De Officiis, 1, 28, 132: PL 16, 67.
[7] K. BIHLMEYER-H. TÜCHLE, Church History, vol. 1, Westminster, The Newman Press, 1958, pp. 373, 374.
[8] Address to Participants in the Conference organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (4 April 2017).
[9] Message for the Twenty-second Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22), 10 November 2016. Cf. INTERDICASTERIAL ROUNDTABLE OF THE HOLY SEE ON INTEGRAL ECOLOGY, Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: Five Years after Laudato Si’, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 31 May 2020.
[10] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 26.
[11] Extraordinary Moment of Prayer in Time of Epidemic, 27 March 2020.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Cf. Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), 8; 153.
[14] SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987), 38.
[15] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 91.
[16] EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Pastoral Letter Sobre la relación del hombre con la naturaleza (21 January 1987); cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 92.
[17] Cf. Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), 125.
[18] Ibid., 29.
[19] Cf. Message to Participants in the International Conference “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations”, Rome, 10-11 December 2018.
[20] Cf. Message to the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination, 23 March 2017.
[21] Video Message for the 2020 World Food Day (16 October 2020).
[22] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”, Message for the 2012 World Day of Peace, (8 December 2011), 2; “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace”, Message for the 2016 World Day of Peace, (8 December 2015), 6.
[23] Address to the Parliament of Uganda, Kampala, 1 August 1969.
[24] Message for the Launch of the Global Compact on Education, 12 September 2019.
[25] Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), 225.
[26] Cf. ibid., 64.
[27] Ibid., 96; cf. “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace”, Message for the 2014 World Day of Peace (8 December 2013), 1.






Pope Francis      01.01.21  Angelus, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 54th World Peace Day Year B        Luke 2: 16-21


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good afternoon and Happy New Year!
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/mary/01.01.21%203%2048.jpg

We begin this year placing ourselves under the maternal and loving gaze of Mary Most Holy, celebrated in today’s liturgy as Mother of God. Thus we take up once again the journey along the paths of history, entrusting our anxieties and our torments to her who can do everything. Mary watches over us with maternal tenderness just as she watched over her Son Jesus, and if we look at the Nativity Scene, we see that Jesus is not in the crib, and they told me that the Madonna said: “Won’t you let me hold this Son of mine a bit in my arms?” This is what the Madonna does with us: she wants to hold us in her harms to protect us as she protected and loved her Son. The reassuring and comforting gaze of the Holy Virgin is an encouragement to make sure that this time, granted us by the Lord, might be spent for our human and spiritual growth, that it is a time in which hatred and division are resolved, and there are many, that it is a time to experience ourselves as brothers and sisters, a time to build and not to destroy, to take care of each other and of creation. A time to make things grow a time of peace.

It is specifically regarding the care of our neighbours and of creation that the theme for the World Day of Peace, which we celebrate today, is dedicated: A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. The painful events that marked humanity’s journey last year, especially the pandemic, taught us how much it is necessary to take an interest in others’ problems and to share their concerns. This attitude represents the path that leads to peace, because it fosters the construction of a society founded on fraternal relationships. Each of us, men and women of this time, is called to make peace happen, each one of us, we are not indifferent to this. We are called to make peace happen each day and in every place we live, taking those brothers and sisters by the hand who need a comforting word, a tender gesture, solidary help. This is a task given us by God. The Lord has given us the task of being peacemakers.

And peace can become a reality if we begin to be in peace with ourselves – at peace inside, in our hearts – and with ourselves, and with those who are near us, removing the obstacles that prevent us from taking care of those who find themselves in need and in poverty. It means developing a mentality and a culture of “caring” to defeat indifference, to defeat rejection and rivalry – indifference, rejection, rivalry which unfortunately prevail. To remove these attitudes. And thus, peace is not only the absence of war, peace is never sterile: no, peace does not exist in an operating room. Peace is within life: it is not only the absence of war, but is a life rich in meaning, rooted in and lived through personal realization and fraternal sharing with others. Then that peace, so longed for and always endangered by violence, by egoism and evil, that peace that is endangered might become possible and achievable if I take it as a task given to me by God.

May the Virgin Mary, who gave birth to the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6), and who cuddles him thus, with such tenderness in her arms, obtain for us from heaven the precious gift of peace, which cannot be fully pursued with human force alone. Human force is not enough because peace is above all a gift, a gift to be implored from God with incessant prayer, sustained with patient and respectful dialogue, constructed with an open collaboration with truth and justice and always attentive to the legitimate aspirations of individuals and peoples. My hope is that peace might reign in the hearts of men and women and in families, in recreational and work places, in communities and in nations. In families, at work, in nations: peace, peace. Now is time to think that life today is organized around war, and enmities, by many things that destroy. We want peace. And this is a gift.

On the threshold of this beginning, I extend to everyone my heart-felt greetings for a happy and serene 2021. May each one of us make sure that it is for everyone a year of fraternal solidarity and peace, a year filled with expectant trust and hope, which we entrust to the heavenly protection of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother.