Vatican City, 12 December 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a presentation was given of the Holy Father's message for the 47th World Day of Peace, which is celebrated every year on 1 January, and the theme of which will be “Fraternity as the foundation of peace and as the pathway to peace”.
The director of the Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., read a text introducing the message by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, who is currently in Johannesburg as the Pope's special envoy to the funeral service in honour of Nelson Mandela. Presentations were also given by Archbishop Mario Toso S.D.B., and Vittorio Alberti, respectively secretary and official of the same dicastery.
In the Bible, the Cardinal continued, “the first crime was fratricide. Every taking of an innocent life – whether it is called abortion, murder, or euthanasia –whether it is called crime or starvation or war – is, in fact, fratricide, is it not? How can we fail to recognize that we are brothers and sisters, since we all have the same Father? How can we fail to recognize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our brother? By His Cross and Resurrection, He repaired a broken humanity and continually offers everyone the promise of salvation.”
“In this Message, the Holy Father asks why there in such a deficit of fraternity in today’s world. Has selfishness blinded us to our fundamental fraternity? Have fear and competitiveness poisoned our incomparable dignity as sons and daughters of God, thus brothers and sisters to each other?”
Analysing the concept of fraternity according to Pope's message, Cardinal Turkson noted that he cites his recent predecessors to expand on the meaning and relevance of fraternity as the foundation and pathway to peace. “Pope Paul VI emphasized integral development. … Blessed John Paul II called peace an indivisible common good: either it is for all, or it is for none. … and Pope Benedict XVI identified fraternity as a prerequisite for fighting poverty”.
“Three days after his election, Pope Francis met with you, representatives of the media, and explained his choice of a name: 'I thought of Francis of Assisi. … For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation”, and in his first New Year’s message, the Holy Father elaborates on the poor, on peace, and on creation, under the inclusive and meaningful heading of fraternity”.
In the fifth and sixth sections of the Message, Pope Francis looks to the economy for real remedies to poverty and states that “fraternal relations find expression in social policies that facilitate access; in a more sober lifestyle limited to consuming what is essential; and, at the macro level, in 'a timely rethinking of our models of economic development'”.
The seventh and eighth sections, continued Cardinal Turkson, “guide us to reduce and eliminate war of every kind, as well as corruption and organized crime. Fraternity overcomes the indifference with which we observe the many wars at a safe distance. It overcomes the tendency to dehumanize and demonize the enemy. It motivates the hard work needed to accomplish non-proliferation and disarmament, including nuclear, chemical, conventional and unmanned weapons, as well as small arms. When it comes to social conflict, fraternity resists corruption, organized crime, and the drug trade; slavery, human trafficking and prostitution; and those forms of economic and financial ‘warfare’ which are 'destructive of lives, families and businesses'”.
Section 9 considers “the urgent need to preserve and cultivate nature as our earthly home and the source of all material goods, now and for future generations. In the spirit of fraternity, we must learn to treat the natural environment as a gift from our Creator, to be enjoyed in common, gratefully and justly”.
The Cardinal concluded by commenting on the passing, a week ago, of “the great Nelson Mandela” who, “through the long years of imprisonment … overcame the temptation to seek revenge. He emerged from prison with the supreme message of reconciliation. For this, the sad truth of the past had to be uncovered and accepted. Only on the basis of truth and reconciliation could the majority of South Africans aspire to a better life. No one should underestimate how much faith, how much courage, how great a spirit, it required of Mandela to put into practice the wisdom which he had learned in prison. By his example and leadership, Nelson Mandela facilitated the conversion of hearts away from fratricide. Conversion of minds and hearts is what Pope Francis is pursuing daily. … Fraternity needs to be discovered, experienced, proclaimed and witnessed through love. Bestowed as a gift, God’s love alone enables us to accept our fraternity and express it more and more fully”.
“As we prepare to celebrate Christmas by offering gifts among friends and relations, it would be good to pause, as Jesus suggests”, concluded, “'If you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift'. Today the poor, the excluded, the suffering of our city, of our country, of our world, do have 'something against us'. What they have 'against us' is our failure to respect who, most profoundly, they are – who, most profoundly, we are – namely, brothers and sisters”.