Faith on the Quad Working for Peace

Pope Benedict XVI recently concluded an eight-day visit to the Holy Land, during which he again and again proclaimed a message of peace, healing and reconciliation for both the regional and universal Church. During his flight to the Holy Land, interviewers asked the Pope about the contribution he could offer to the peace process in the Middle East. The Holy Father responded, "I shall seek to contribute to peace not as an individual but in the name of the Catholic Church, and of the Holy See. We are not a political power, but a spiritual force." The idea of peace became a major theme of the trip, and the Pope explained ways that the Catholic Church as a whole, as well as individuals within it, are able to contribute to peace throughout the world.

In a meeting with Muslim leaders, the Pope spoke out against the idea that religion is inevitably a cause of division and spoke of the need to bear witness to goodness and truth in a hostile world. He later spoke against anti-Semitism and encouraged mutual respect among different religious communities, stressing the importance of dialogue, cooperation, and respect for human rights and dignity as a path to peace. During his visit to the President of Israel, the Pope stated that "the particular contribution of religions to the quest for peace lies primarily in the wholehearted, united search for God." By leading people in this search to find the Almighty, religion creates unity.

The Holy Father did not forget the youth. Speaking to a gathering of religious leaders in Nazareth, he proclaimed, "By molding the hearts of the young, we mold the future of humanity itself." He continued to encourage young people to build up the Church and live out their vocations as a method of promoting peace. In addition, he emphasized the important roles of prayer and formation of conscience as concrete ways to make an impact.

The idea of peace is one that is frequently discussed by both the Catholic and secular world. At Mass, we pray for peace and exchange a sign of peace. Organizations throughout the country work to promote peace. Yet violence and strife are still powerful forces all across the globe. At times, peace may seem like an unattainable goal, a theoretical idea that would be impossible to achieve in reality. It is also tempting to think that efforts for peace are primarily the job of politicians in D.C. Are we, as mere individual college students, expected to contribute to world peace?

The answer is yes! Although we may not have much influence over what happens between politicians and leaders throughout the world, we can still work for peace. Peace must start small – within our own homes and families and neighborhoods. It must begin in our own hearts. Politics can never ultimately bring peace to the world. Christianity can. No system of government or political leader, no matter how strong, will ever be able to solve the problem of violence in the world. Only the love of Christ can bring real and lasting peace – when it penetrates the hearts of individuals, casting out all hatred and indifference. Therefore, we as college students truly can be instruments of peace in this world. If we allow genuine love to penetrate our lives, we are planting the seeds that will mature to produce great fruit. So we can ask ourselves: How do we deal with those around us? How do we interact with the people in our day-to-day lives? Do we show love and forgiveness? Do we seek reconciliation rather than being judgmental and holding grudges? By working on these small things, we can work for peace - the genuine and lasting peace that starts small but grows to encompass the whole world.

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