VATICAN CITY, JULY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The theme of Benedict XVI’s message for the 40th World Peace Day, which will be observed on Jan. 1, 2007, is “The Human Person: Heart of Peace.”
In a brief communiqué made public on Thursday, the Vatican press office announced the essence of the reflection chosen by the Holy Father for the occasion.
The theme “expresses the conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for peace within the human family,” explained the communiqué.
Human dignity “is the stamp imprinted by God on man, created in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27); it is the sign of the common destiny of humanity and the foundation of love of God and of one’s neighbor.”
“Only through an awareness of the transcendent dignity of each man and woman can the human family follow the path that leads to peace and to communion with God,” said the note. In fact, Benedict XVI states in his encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” that “love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God” (n.16).
Threats to dignity
“Today, perhaps more persuasively and with more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assailed by the misguided use of science and technology, and contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles,” it observed.
The note referred explicitly to “ideologies that find their inspiration in nihilism or fanaticism — material or religious,” which “seek to deny or to impose supposed truths upon reality, upon man and upon God.”
The note stressed that “often science and technology — especially biomedicine — rather than serving the common good of humanity, are instrumental in serving an egotistical vision of progress and wellbeing.”
Finally, “propaganda and the growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people to the point of extinguishing the desire for ordered and peaceful coexistence,” it noted.
“All this represents a threat to humanity, because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does not seek the common good,” it specified.
To these “challenges of the present time,” the Church, whose mission it is to announce “the Gospel of Life, the central position of mankind in the universe and God’s love for humanity” “responds with a Christian anthropology based on three pillars.”
These pillars are “human dignity, sociality and activity in the world, oriented in accordance with the order stamped by God on the universe (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37) and with a view to an integral and solidary humanism that tends towards the development of all of man and of all men (Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio).”
The Vatican press office’s communiqué concluded by affirming that “any offense to the person is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offense to the truth of the person: ‘The human person is the heart of peace.'”