February 16, 2007


Peace is a gift we must work for

(Listen to this editorial being read)

In his 2007 World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI clearly follows the peace-making path established by his predecessors (including Benedict XV, who sought to end the First World War).

Citing support from sources as diverse as St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II and Mahatma Gandhi, the Holy Father makes the case that peace is a gift we must work for.

“If it is true that peace between individuals and peoples—the ability to live together and to build relationships of justice and solidarity—calls for unfailing commitment on our part, it is also true, and indeed more so, that peace is a gift from God,” the Holy Father said.

Peace is a gift from God, the pope teaches, because it is rooted in the wonder of creation and the gift of life itself. Peace springs from the sacredness and dignity of human life. It is one of the inalienable rights given to us by God. It is also one of the sacred duties given by the Creator to the human persons he has named as stewards of all his gifts—material and spiritual.

Pope Benedict says that peace is “a task demanding of everyone a personal response consistent with God’s plan.”

The rulers of individual nations and leaders in the international community are entrusted with special responsibilities for safeguarding and defending peace on Earth.

But every human person has an important role to play in the search for peace. According to the Holy Father, “all peoples—within their respective cultures—can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God.”

All who wish to be peacemakers must, first of all, work to achieve “a dialogue between the followers of different religions and between believers and nonbelievers,” which the pope says is the “great point of convergence” and the “fundamental presupposition for authentic peace.”

Pope Benedict insists: War is never the answer. War in God’s name is never acceptable! Peace is a gift from God that we must accept gratefully, nourish responsibly and share generously.

We are called to be stewards of peace and builders of a humane and just international community. This is the vision of God’s kingdom that we are challenged in a profound way to spread among all the peoples, nations and cultures of the Earth. It is the “great point of convergence” that the Holy Father says draws together all people of good will.

The challenge that is posed by Benedict XVI in his 2007 World Day of Peace message embraces everyone—individuals and nations, believers and nonbelievers alike.

“War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity,” the pope says. “When despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts.”

Quoting St. Augustine, the Holy Father says, “God created us without our aid; but he did not choose to save us without our aid.”

We are all responsible for taking care of and sharing the gift of peace. Let’s pray for peace—in our homes, our local communities, our nation and all regions of our world.

Let us work for justice and solidarity everywhere and for everyone. Let us thank God for the gift of his peace.

And let us never forget that this is a gift we must work for tirelessly as stewards of all God’s creation.

— Dan Conway

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