.- Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace was made public today by the Vatican. In his message, which is written in advance of the January 1st Day of Peace, the Holy Father calls for an increased respect for human dignity and rights, based on a renewed understanding of natural law, to combat the growing threats of terrorism and violence.
"As one created in the image of God,” the Pope says, “each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others."
“Recognition and respect for natural law represents the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of the different religions and between believers and non-believers,” he continues. “As a great point of convergence, this is also a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace."
Life and religious liberty
“The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man,” he states.
“Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace,” he emphasizes.
Another threat to peace can be found in the inequalities which still exist in the world, even in the fundamental areas of food, water, shelter, and health, the Pope adds, remarking also on the continued inequality between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights. “There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being,” he said.
Despite cultural and religious differences, the Holy Father states, there is one point, “which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in God's name is never acceptable!”
In addition to an increased respect for humanity, the Pontiff also emphasizes the need for an increased respect for nature.
“Humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology,” the Pope adds. “Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa.”
Christ our peace
"Finally,” he concludes, “I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights. ... In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace."