Pope Francis' first message for the World Day of Peace was issued today by the Vatican, revealing the pontiff's special emphasis on fostering greater global fraternity in the process of obtaining peace.
The Dec. 12 presentation of the Pope's message showed how he refers to fraternity as “an essential human quality,” which he elaborates on in several key areas of society.
The theme of the upcoming day, which will occur on Jan. 1, 2014, is “fraternity as the foundation of peace and as the pathway to peace.”
“In this, my first Message for the World Day of Peace,” he opens, “I wish to offer to everyone, individuals and peoples, my best wishes for a life filled with joy and hope.”
“In the heart of every man and woman,” the pontiff writes, “is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible 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.”
Using the image of Cain's murder of Abel in Genesis, Pope Francis illustrates how this act demonstrates our capacity to betray our “inherent calling to fraternity.”
This fraternity, the pontiff explains, is “regenerated” in Jesus Christ, adding that “all are loved by God,” and because of this “no one can remain indifferent before the lot of our brothers and sisters.”
Quoting his predecessors, Pope Francis states that from them “we learn that the integral development of peoples is the new name of peace,” and that “not only individuals but nations too must encounter one another in a spirit of fraternity.”
Repeating the words of John Paul II, the Pope emphasized that “Peace…is an indivisible good. Either it is the good of all or it is the good of none.”
“It can be truly attained and enjoyed, as the highest quality of life and a more human and sustainable development, only if all are guided by solidarity as ‘a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.’”
Exploring the role of fraternity in the key aspects of poverty, economics, corruption and crime, and creation, the pontiff explains that “the lack of fraternity between peoples and men and women is a significant cause of poverty.”
“We are concerned by the various types of hardship, marginalization, isolation and various forms of pathological dependencies which we see increasing.”
“This kind of poverty,” he says, “can be overcome only through the rediscovery and valuing of fraternal relationships in the heart of families and communities, through the sharing of joys and sorrows, of the hardships and triumphs that are a part of human life.”
There are also, reflects the Pope, “grave financial and economic crises of the present time – which find their origin in the progressive distancing of man from God and from his neighbor.”
“The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles,” he goes on to say.
“I express my hope that the daily commitment of all will continue to bear fruit and that there will be an effective application in international law of the right to peace, as a fundamental human right and a necessary prerequisite for every other right.”
Noting how both corruption and organized crime are great threats to fraternal living, the pontiff affirmed that fraternity “generates social peace because it creates a balance between freedom and justice, between personal responsibility and solidarity, between the good of individuals and the common good.”
“So a political community must act in a transparent and responsible way to favour all this. Citizens must feel themselves represented by the public authorities in respect for their freedom.”
Recalling how humanity has received nature from God as a “common gift,” the Pope stressed the importance of being responsible in the way we care for creation.
“Nature, in a word, is at our disposition and we are called to exercise a responsible stewardship over it,” the pontiff explains, stating that “the continuing disgrace of hunger in the world moves me to share with you the question: How are we using the earth’s resources?”
“Contemporary societies,” he notes, “should reflect on the hierarchy of priorities to which production is directed. It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth’s resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger.”
In the conclusion of his message, Pope Francis emphasizes that “fraternity needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, proclaimed and witnessed to.”
“But only love, bestowed as a gift from God, enables us to accept and fully experience fraternity,” he continues.
“Service is the soul of that fraternity that builds up peace,” says the Pope.
“May Mary, the Mother of Jesus, help us to understand and live every day the fraternity that springs up from the heart of her Son, so as to bring peace to each person on this our beloved Earth.”