In the face of the eruption of violence around the world, Pope Benedict is calling for a “new humanism” that includes moral and spiritual development, to combat the spread of warfare.
The Pope’s message, which was made public on Saturday, comes less than a week before his address to the U.N., where many expect him to address violence and the need for strengthening the family around the world.
Cardinal Renato Martino and participants in a seminar entitled: "Disarmament, development and peace, prospects for integral disarmament", being held in Rome April 11-12, received the Pope’s letter.
The Holy Father began his message by noting how the seminar’s topic is very relevant to humanity’s current situation. "Tension and war exist in various parts of the world, and even where the tragedy of war is not present, feelings of fear and insecurity are nonetheless widespread,” Benedict XVI noted. “Furthermore, such phenomena as global terrorism blur the distinction between peace and war, seriously compromising the future hopes of humankind.”
"How", he adds, "can we respond to these challenges? How can we recognize the 'signs of the times'? Certainly, joint action on a political, economic and juridical level is needed but, even before that, it is necessary to reflect together on a moral and spiritual level. What is ever more vital is to promote a 'new humanism'".
However, the Pope cautioned, we cannot think of this “new humanism” in a way that reduces development to “simple economic growth,” rather, “it must include the moral and spiritual dimension. A truly integral humanism must, at the same time, also express solidarity," he said.
Achieving "True and lasting peace is unimaginable without the development of each person and of all peoples," Pope Benedict asserted. Yet, is it inconceivable “to think of reducing arms if first we do not eliminate violence at its roots, if man does not first turn decisively to searching for peace and for what is good and just".
The Pope also took aim at nations that spend exorbitant amounts of money on defense and in doing so, divert funds from “projects for the development of peoples, especially the poorest and those most in need of help".
Instead of allowing military spending to become a driving force of the world economy, the Pontiff called on States to “reduce military expenditure on arms and to give serious consideration to the idea of creating a global fund for peaceful development projects".
Benedict XVI affirms the need to do everything possible to ensure that "the economy is directed to serving human beings and solidarity, and not just to profit.”
"Nonetheless", the Pope acknowledges, "it will be difficult to find a solution to the various technical problems without man's conversion to good on a cultural, moral and spiritual level".
This transformation requires a “choral invocation of the culture of peace and for a joint education in peace, especially among the new generations. ... The human right to peace", he writes, "is fundamental and inalienable", and upon it "the exercise of all other rights depends," the Pope insisted.
Although the current situation in the world could give rise "to a justified sense of discomfort and resignation", the Holy Father points out that "war is never inevitable and peace is always possible. Even more so, it is a duty! The time has come to change the course of history, to rediscover trust, to cultivate dialogue and to nourish solidarity", he says.
"The future of humanity depends upon a commitment on everyone's part. Only by pursuing an integrated humanism of solidarity, in which disarmament assumes an ethical and spiritual dimension, can humanity progress towards the true and lasting peace for which it longs,” the Pope concluded.