Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in Mass on January 1, a day which also marks the 43rd World Day for Peace. In his homily, the Pontiff made an appeal for investment in education based on respect for the human being and, in turn, for the protection of the environment and peace in the world.
The Pope’s message for the World Day for Peace 2010, "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation," was presented in his homily on Friday at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope pointed to the revelation of the "Face of God" throughout Scripture and its manifestation in the birth of Christ as a point of meditation for bringing peace to the world.
The Pontiff said that we can see the reflection of the vision of God on the world today through the faces of innocent children, who make "a silent appeal to our responsibility." In light of their "defenselessness," said Benedict XVI, all justifications for war and violence cease to be valid. "We should simply convert ourselves to projects of peace, put down weapons of all types and work together to build a world worthy of man," exhorted the Pope.
Benedict XVI underscored that the "privileged way" which leads to peace is our ability to recognize in each other, "a brother in humanity," regardless of skin color, religion or origin.
"From the time we are young, it’s important to be educated to respect others, even when they are different from us," the Holy Father continued.
The Pontiff also called for renewed respect for "human ecology," due to the close relationship between respect for man and the preservation of creation. "If man is degraded, the environment in which he lives is also degraded," he stated.
The Pope concluded by appealing for an investment in an education not only based on technical or scientific notions, but one focused on the "respect for man and his rights and fundamental responsibilities."
Only in this way, he concluded, commitment to the environment can truly be a tool for the construction of peace.
Among the many clergy concelebrating Mass with the Pope were Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the President emeritus of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino.