We summarize in ten points the important and novel Message of Francis for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2017.
1. We live in a fragmented and violent world, with enormous suffering from wars, terrorism, criminality, unpredictable armed attacks, abuses against migrants, victims of trafficking, domestic violence, abuse of women and children, devastation of the environment.
2. Violence is not the solution to this fragmented world, since it generates a spiral of conflicts leading to forced emigration, large amounts destined for military purposes (taken away from the needs of young people, families and the elderly) and which in many cases produces the physical and spiritual death of many.
3. Against this situation, active nonviolence is proposed as the style for a politics of peace and as a lifestyle, a nonviolence that is not disinterest and passivity but solidarity, generosity, forgiveness, dedication to injured bodies and broken lives.
4. For Christians, the model of nonviolence is Jesus in his teachings (to love enemies, to turn the other cheek, not to stone the adulteress, not to draw the sword of Peter) and in his life until the cross where he dies forgiving his enemies.
5. This has been the path of many Christians who have become instruments of peace, such as Francis of Assisi, Therese of the Child Jesus, Mother Teresa, and Christians who with their nonviolent attitude and prayer contributed to the fall of the communist regimes of Europe.
6. Nonviolence, however, is not exclusive to Christians but is a patrimony of the religions of humanity, for which compassion and nonviolence are essential and produce impressive results, such as the successes of Gandhi, Luther King and Leymah Gboiwe with thousands of Liberian women. No religion is terrorist, you can not use God’s name to justify violence, only peace is holy, not war.
7. If violence, like all evil, springs from the human heart, we must walk the path of nonviolence within the family which is the indispensable space to learn to care for oneself, overcome conflicts, seek the good of the other, and exercise mercy and forgiveness.
8. From a family thus constituted, an ethic of fraternity, peaceful coexistence among individuals and peoples, with respect, responsibility and sincere dialogue is spread to society. And here Francis calls for disarmament and the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
9. The construction of peace through active nonviolence is the contribution of the Church to peace, a contribution inspired by the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, especially that of the meek, merciful and peaceful who work for peace and thirst for justice.
10. Applying the Beatitudes in the fulfillment of the responsibilities of political and religious leaders, international institutions and companies is indeed a program and a challenge. This implies accepting conflict and resolving it, transforming it into a link in the chain of a new progress. Active nonviolence demonstrates that “unity is more important and more fruitful than conflict.”
While the angelic message of peace on earth still resounds, this can be a good program for 2017: to turn away from violent words and gestures and to build nonviolent societies that take care of the earth. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. We can all be artisans of peace.
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