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Wednesday, November 9, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Msgr. Francesco Follo, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), participated in the general conference of that organisation, held in the French capital Paris on 29 October. His comments focused on the question of peace in the world which, he said, needs to be constructed on the basis of small communities such as the family, the school and the city. Extracts from his remarks are given below:

"Local peace is vital in order to achieve universal peace. ... Man is a social being, made to live in community. And it is in small communities, which constitute small societies, that we must first seek models and guidance to live in peace. There are many such small societies, but I will mention just three".

"The first is the family. If man is to learn to be human he must begin within the family. ... The family is an the place in which we first meet others. ... Learning to live in the family is, then, a priority".

The second "small society" is "the school, ... the place where children learn how to behave in a social setting. ... Children need various forms of culture and knowledge, but the school would be failing in its mission if it proposed only theoretical teachings while overlooking its duty to foster serene coexistence, which is necessary if each individual is to achieve fulfilment. ... For this reason we must use all possible means to ensure that children learn to live together, respecting legitimate differences and experiencing human fraternity and friendship. ... Wisdom is not only the accumulation of knowledge, it is the fruit of experience and of the art of living. For Christians it is a gift of God. What counts is not knowledge for its own sake, but knowing in order to serve, to live with others in peace".

"In a deeply divided world, threatened by violent confrontation in many forms, the school can produce workers for peace, promoting a culture of dialogue open to self-criticism. Moreover, in their own way and with their own means, schools can contrast situations of inequality, insisting that everyone's human rights be respected. Above all they can educate people to understand what we are: a single human family".

"Families and schools exist in what we could call a city. ... Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised, and cities have become the dwelling place of most of our contemporaries, places where, paradoxically, we experience refined culture and great violence, wealth and poverty. We must, then, work to ensure that cities and villages become truly human; in other words, to ensure that the community of individuals of which they are composed ... agree to base their lives on the positive principles deriving from their respective cultures, principles which lead to a culture of peace and the eradication of all forms of violence".

"The construction of peace on the basis of these three components: family, school and city, will lead to a culture of peace which may have a positive effect on the harmonious coexistence of nations".
SS/ VIS 20111109 (530)

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