Pope Francis’ message for the 47th World Day of Peace cited fraternity as a means to combat indifference and suffering in the world.
During a press conference at the Holy See Press Office today, the Holy Father’s message was presented for next year’s celebration under the theme: “Fraternity as the foundation of peace and as a pathway to peace.”
Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was unable to attend the conference as he was sent to Johannesburg as the Pope’s envoy for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, however read a text from the Cardinal introducing the message.
In his message, Cardinal Turkson noted the first crime of fratricide, committed by Cain against Abel, continues on even in today’s society. “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?” the Cardinal asked.
“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.”
Cardinal Turkson wrote that the Holy Father’s message challenges all to examine the “deficit of fraternity” that exists in today’s world. In his message, Pope Francis poses the question as to whether selfishness, fear and competitiveness “poisoned our incomparable dignity as sons and daughters of God.”
The Cardinal reminded journalists of the Holy Father’s first meeting with the media after his election, where he explained the name he took the name of Francis, who was a man of poverty, peace and love.
Cardinal Turkson also highlighted the Pope’s emphasis on the importance of fraternity in dealing with economical remedies for the poor and disadvantaged. The Pope’s message also cited fraternity as a guide to eliminate war.
“Fraternity,” the Pope writes, “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.’”
Concluding his statement on the Pope’s message for the World Day of Peace, Cardinal Turkson cited Nelson Mandela as an example of one who “overcame the temptation to seek revenge.”
“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,” the Cardinal stated.
“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.” (J.A.E.)