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Pope's Peace Day Message presented in Vatican

12/12/2013

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Pope Francis' World Peace Day Message for January 1st, 2014 was officially presented at a news conference in the Vatican on Thursday. Those addressing the news conference were Bishop Mario Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Dr Vittorio Alberti, an official of the Curia. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, read out the remarks of Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontficial Council for Justice and Peace, who could not be there.

Please find below an English translation of the speech by Cardinal Turkson:


It is a great pleasure for me to present the first Message of Pope Francis for the celebration
of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2014. The Holy Father’s Message reflects on the theme
of fraternity as the foundation of peace and as the pathway to peace. In my brief presentation,
let me begin with some biblical reflections on fraternity, and then review the main points of the
Message.

Fraternity according to the Bible

Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. But that does not make
fraternity automatic. In our time, as Pope emeritus Benedict XVI pointed out, globalization
makes us neighbours but it does not make us brothers. Fraternity is ignored or trampled upon
in countless ways throughout history and even today, as the New Year’s Message makes very
clear.

In the beginning, the Book of Genesis tells us, Adam and Eve had two sons. Cain and Abel
were brothers; the Greek word, adelphos, means “to come from the same womb”. But the fact
of being born siblings did not automatically make them fraternal.

The first sin, the original sin, according to Genesis, was Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They
sinned by violating their relationship with God their Creator when they tried to place themselves
above God.The second sin was Cain’s violation of his relationship with Abel. Out of jealousy,
he murdered his brother. The first crime, therefore, 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!

Male and female God created us, brother and sister he called us to be. Fraternity – treating
each other as the brothers and sisters that we are– is our true vocation. We are free to embrace
it or reject it. God our Creator has freely made human beings equal in dignity, but not the same.
Each one of us is fully loved, not more or less but infinitely, fully, uniquely, and unconditionally.
Yet the evil one seduces us into comparing ourselves with each other! When Cain realized
that God had shown favour to Abel, his disappointment fixated on his younger brother, whom
he imagined to be his competitor. Instead of keeping his heart open to God’s love and thanking
him for the abundant harvest,Cain unleashed murderous anger against his brother, who, in fact,
was totally innocent.

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?

Fraternity according to the Message

Allow me now to highlight some key points of the Message for the World Day of Peace.
Pope Francis 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:“We must work together to build the
common future of the human race.

Blessed John Paul II called peace an indivisible common good: either it is for all, or it is for
none. It can be truly attained only if everyone shows solidarity as “a firm and persevering
determination to commit oneself to the common good”.

Pope Benedict XVI identified fraternity as a prerequisite for fighting poverty . His encyclical
Caritas in Veritate reminds the world how the lack of fraternity between peoples and between
men and women is a significant cause of poverty. A poverty of relationships results in many
lacking the material basics for life.

Looking back over 2013, everyone recalls the historic moment (11 February) when Benedict
XVI announced his courageous decision to step aside as Pope. This gave way to the election of
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter. From the very start,
the new Holy Father has brought great openness and creative energy to the papacy. Indeed, he
has personified the very paternity and fraternity of today’s message – paternal and fraternal
concern for one and all.

Three days after his election, Pope Francis met with you, representatives of the media, and
explained his choice of a name:

Thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars ... Francis
is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For
me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation…6
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.

Sections 5-6 of the Message looks to the economy for real remedies to poverty. Cooperation
in pursuit of the common good must replace harmful rivalries that put everyone at risk. 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”.

Sections 7-8 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. Agriculture that produces responsibly, and businesses that see to proper
distribution and avoid waste, are necessary expressions of fraternity in today’s world.

Receiving the Message today

A week ago, the great Nelson Mandela closed his eyes for the last time and, as we say in
Africa, joined the ancestors. It was my privilege to represent Pope Francis at Tuesday’s
memorial in Soweto.

Through the long years of imprisonment, Mandela 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. The message is
simple: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved
you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). 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. 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” (Matthew 5:23-24). 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.

In his first World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis invites us to reflect, to pray, and to
act accordingly. Offences against fraternity make a long, sad, shameful catalogue, as we have
seen. After each fratricidal crime, God calls out: “Where is your brother, where is your sister?”
The selfish sinful heart snaps back, “Am I their keeper?” The fraternal heart responds gratefully:
“Thank you, Father, for making me the keeper of my brothers and sisters! And thank you, too,
for making them my keeper!”

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