Pope Benedict XVI's World Peace Day message is addressed to all people to say that “fanaticism, fundamentalisms and aggressive secularism are enemies of true peace,” said the director of the Holy See's Press Office.
Fr. Federico Lombardi focused this week's Vatican Television editorial on the Pope's message for Jan. 1 titled "Religious Freedom, the Path of Peace." The message was presented at a Vatican press conference on Dec. 16.
One of the "most striking" affirmations in the Pope's message is that Christians are the religious group that is most persecuted for their faith worldwide, said Fr. Lombardi. It is "right" to emphasize this fact, he said, but it isn't the “core” of the message.
The Pope's emphasis on religious freedom as a way to peace is meant for "the good of all humanity, appealing to the dignity of the human person, of every human person, and demanding a fundamental right for them," he said.
The Pope uses the direct experience of the persecution of Christians to "demand for all the right to seek God, recognize Him and honor Him with their lives, privately and together with others."
Fr. Lombardi warned it is impossible to establish peaceful communities if this right is not respected, because "fanaticisms, fundamentalisms and aggressive secularism are enemies of true peace."
Another Dec. 18 editorial from Fr. Vito del Prete, acting director the Vatican's Fides news service, added "if we want peace, we must ensure that the right to choose and profess our own faith is guaranteed to every human being."
All political institutions and world and religious leaders must work to promote and protect religious freedom, "a true weapon and the way to peace,” he wrote.
The 44th World Peace Day, or World Day of Peace, will be celebrated on Jan. 1, 2011. Pope Paul VI first celebrated the event on New Year’s Day of 1967.