IN his message for the new years’ World Day of Peace, observed by Vatican every January 1 for the last 46 years, Pope Benedict XVI had for its theme and title one of the best-known Gospel beatitudes: Blessed are the peacemakers!
The Pope says that what makes this statement something true and real in and imperative to human existence is the fact that “Jesus’ beatitude tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort. . . It is the fruit of the reciprocal gift, of a mutual enrichment, thanks to the gift which has its source in God and enables us to live with others and for others. The ethics of peace is an ethics of fellowship and sharing.”
“Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible. Our gaze needs to go deeper, beneath superficial appearances and phenomena, to discern a positive reality which exists in human hearts, since every man and woman has been created in the image of God and is called to grow and contribute to the building of a new world,” the Pope exhorts.
“The peacemaker,” he further explains, “is the one who seeks the good of the other, the fullness of good in body and soul, today and tomorrow. . .From this teaching one can infer that each person and every community, whether religious, civil, educational or cultural, is called to work for. . .the attainment of the common good in society at its different levels, primary and intermediary, national, international and global. . . The paths which lead to the attainment of the common good are also the paths that must be followed in the pursuit of peace.”
He then recommends how to pursue these paths in the spheres of valuing the sacredness of life and marriage, religious freedom, and economic rights (“In many quarters it is now recognized that a new model of development is needed, as well as a new approach to the economy”).
He makes a strong pitch for peace education, thus: “Cultural institutions, schools and universities have a special mission of peace. They are called . . . to the formation of new generations of leaders. . to the renewal of public institutions, both national and international. . . contribute to a scientific reflection which will ground economic and financial activities on a solid anthropological and ethical basis. . . to harmonize the various political currents with a view to the common good, (which) as an ensemble of positive interpersonal and institutional relationships at the service of the integral growth of individuals and groups is at the basis of all true education for peace.”
“In the end,” he concludes, “we see clearly the need to propose and promote a pedagogy of peace. This calls for a rich interior life, clear and valid moral points of reference, and appropriate attitudes and lifestyles. . . Thoughts, words and gestures of peace create a mentality and a culture of peace. . .There is a need, then, to teach people to love one another, to cultivate peace and to live with good will rather than mere tolerance.” (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)