Fraternity among all peoples - which has its foundation in the common fatherhood of God and in Jesus saw the overcoming of the separation between peoples - is " basis and the path to peace " in that it leads to victory over the " globalization of indifference ," that is the slowly "getting used" to the suffering of others, and therefore not only to put an end to the conflicts and patterns of economic development in which " people are reduced to objects to be exploited ," but above all to work together to build the common future of every person and of all humanity , recognizing and promoting the rights and welfare of the "our brother or sister".
are the principle themes of the message of Pope Francis for the next World Day
of Peace - which will be celebrated on January 1, 2014 - titled "Fraternity
, the foundation and the Path to Peace ," published today.
The Pope starts from the premise that
"fraternity is an
essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of
our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister
or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a
solid and lasting peace".
if on the one hand "the ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in
today's world makes us powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the
nations" , on the other
hand the world is also characterized by a globalization
of indifference ."
" as Benedict XVI said , globalization makes us neighbors but does not
make us brothers."
" In many parts of the
world, there seems to be no end to grave offences against fundamental human
rights, especially the right to life and the right to religious freedom. The
tragic phenomenon of human trafficking, in which the unscrupulous prey on the
lives and the desperation of others, is but one unsettling example of this. Alongside
overt armed conflicts are the less visible but no less cruel wars fought in the
economic and financial sectors with means which are equally destructive of
lives, families and businesses".
" New ideologies,
characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic
consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that "throw away" mentality which
leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered
"useless". In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere
do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish".
" At the same time,
it appears clear that contemporary ethical systems remain incapable of
producing authentic bonds of fraternity, since a fraternity devoid of reference
to a common Father as its ultimate foundation is unable to endure. True
brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood. Based
on the recognition of this fatherhood, human fraternity is consolidated: each
person becomes a "neighbour" who cares for others".
The basis of
fraternity is found in God's fatherhood. We are not speaking of a generic
fatherhood, indistinct and historically ineffectual, but rather of the specific
and extraordinarily concrete personal love of God for each man and woman (cf.
Mt 6:25-30). It is a fatherhood, then, which effectively generates fraternity,
because the love of God, once welcomed, becomes the most formidable means of
transforming our lives and relationships with others, opening us to solidarity
and to genuine sharing".
" In a particular way, human fraternity is
regenerated in and by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection". "
From the beginning, Jesus takes up the plan of the Father, acknowledging its
primacy over all else. But Christ, with his abandonment to death for love of
the Father, becomes the definitive and new principle of us all; we are called
to regard ourselves in him as brothers as sisters, inasmuch as we are children
of the same Father. He himself is the Covenant; in his person we are reconciled
with God and with one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus' death on the
Cross also brings an end to the separation between peoples, between the people
of the Covenant and the people of the Gentiles, who were bereft of hope until
that moment, since they were not party to the pacts of the Promise".
Fraternity, the foundation and
pathway to peace
This being said, it is easy
to realize that fraternity is the foundation and pathway of peace.
encyclicals written by my predecessors can be very helpful in this regard. It
would be sufficient to draw on the definitions of peace found in the encyclicals
Populorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI and Sollicitudo Rei Socialis by John Paul
From the first we learn that the integral development of peoples is the new
name of peace.
From the second, we conclude that peace is an opus
Paul VI stated that not
only individuals but nations too must encounter one another in a spirit of
fraternity. As he says: "In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this
sacred communion, we must also... work together to build the common future of the
In the first place, this duty falls to those who are most
privileged. Their obligations are rooted in human and supernatural fraternity
and are manifested in three ways: the duty of solidarity, which requires the
richer nations to assist the less developed; the duty of social justice, which
requires the realignment of relationships between stronger and weaker peoples
in terms of greater fairness; and the duty of universal charity, which entails
the promotion of a more humane world for all, a world in which each has
something to give and to receive, without the progress of the one constituting
an obstacle to the development of the other.
If, then, we consider peace
as opus solidaritatis, we cannot fail to acknowledge that fraternity is its
principal foundation. Peace, John Paul II affirmed, is an indivisible good.
Either it is the good of all or it is the good of none. It can be truly
attained and enjoyed, as the highest quality of life and a more human and
sustainable development, only if all are guided by solidarity as "a firm and
persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good". This means not
being guided by a "desire for profit" or a "thirst for power".
What is needed
is the willingness to "lose ourselves" for the sake of others rather than
exploiting them, and to "serve them" instead of oppressing them for our own
"The 'other' - whether a person, people or nation - [is to be seen]
not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength
to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as
our 'neighbour', a 'helper'".
presumes that our neighbour is loved not only as "a human being with his or her
own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but as the living
image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under
the permanent action of the Holy Spirit", as another brother or sister. As John
Paul II noted: "At that point, awareness of the common fatherhood of God, of the
brotherhood of all in Christ - 'children in the Son' - and of the presence and
life-giving action of the Holy Spirit, will bring to our vision of the world a
new criterion for interpreting it", for changing it.
Fraternity, "is a
prerequisite for fighting poverty". In many societies, we are experiencing
a profound poverty of relationships as a result of the lack of solid family and
community relationships. We are concerned by the various types of hardship,
marginalization, isolation and various forms of pathological dependencies which
we see increasing. This kind of poverty can be overcome only through the
rediscovery and valuing of fraternal relationships in the heart of families and
communities, through the sharing of joys and sorrows, of the hardships and
triumphs that are a part of human life".
" Moreover, if on the one
hand we are seeing a reduction in absolute poverty, on the other hand we cannot
fail to recognize that there is a serious rise in relative poverty, that is,
instances of inequality between people and groups who live together in
particular regions or in a determined historical-cultural context. In this
sense, effective policies are needed to promote the principle of fraternity,
securing for people - who are equal in dignity and in fundamental rights -
access to capital, services, educational resources, healthcare and technology
so that every person has the opportunity to express and realize his or her life
project and can develop fully as a person".
"The grave financial
and economic crises of the present time - which find their origin in the
progressive distancing of man from God and from his neighbour, in the greedy
pursuit of material goods on the one hand, and in the impoverishment of
interpersonal and community relations on the other - have pushed man to seek
satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all
proportion to the principles of a sound economy".
"The succession of economic
crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development
and to a change in lifestyles. Today's crisis, even with its serious
implications for people's lives, can also provide us with a fruitful
opportunity to rediscover the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and
strength. These virtues can help us to overcome difficult moments and to
recover the fraternal bonds which join us one to another, with deep confidence
that human beings need and are capable of something greater than maximizing
their individual interest. Above all, these virtues are necessary for building
and preserving a society in accord with human dignity".
Fraternity extinguishes war
In the past
year, many of our brothers and sisters have continued to endure the destructive
experience of war, which constitutes a grave and deep wound inflicted on
Many conflicts are taking place amid general indifference. To all those who
live in lands where weapons impose terror and destruction, I assure you of my
personal closeness and that of the whole Church, whose mission is to bring
Christ's love to the defenceless victims of forgotten wars through her prayers
for peace, her service to the wounded, the starving, refugees, the displaced
and all those who live in fear. The Church also speaks out in order to make
leaders hear the cry of pain of the suffering and to put an end to every form
of hostility, abuse and the violation of fundamental human rights.
For this reason, I appeal forcefully to all those who sow violence and death by
force of arms: in the person you today see simply as an enemy to be beaten,
discover rather your brother or sister, and hold back your hand! Give up the
way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue, pardon and reconciliation,
in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around you!
"From this standpoint,
it is clear that, for the world's peoples, armed conflicts are always a
deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and
deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to
pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has
Nevertheless, as long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as at
present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities. For this
reason, I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non-proliferation
of arms and for disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical
We cannot however fail to observe that international agreements and national
laws - while necessary and greatly to be desired - are not of themselves
sufficient to protect humanity from the risk of armed conflict.
A conversion of
hearts is needed which would permit everyone to recognize in the other a
brother or sister to care for, and to work together with, in building a
fulfilling life for all.
This is the spirit which inspires many initiatives of
civil society, including religious organizations, to promote peace. I express
my hope that the daily commitment of all will continue to bear fruit and that
there will be an effective application in international law of the right to
peace, as a fundamental human right and a necessary prerequisite for every
The message highlights how "fraternity
generates social peace because it creates a balance between freedom and
justice, between personal responsibility and solidarity, between the good of
individuals and the common good. And so a political community must act in a
transparent and responsible way to favour all this. Citizens must feel
themselves represented by the public authorities in respect for their freedom. Yet
frequently a wedge is driven between citizens and institutions by partisan
interests which disfigure that relationship, fostering the creation of an
enduring climate of conflict".
"An authentic spirit
of fraternity overcomes the individual selfishness which conflicts with
people's ability to live in freedom and in harmony among themselves. Such
selfishness develops socially - whether it is in the many forms of corruption,
so widespread today, or in the formation of criminal organizations, from small
groups to those organized on a global scale. These groups tear down legality
and justice, striking at the very heart of the dignity of the person. These
organizations gravely offend God, they hurt others and they harm creation, all
the more so when they have religious overtones". Here the Pope indicates "the
heartbreaking drama of drug abuse", "the devastation of natural resources and
ongoing pollution, and the tragedy of the exploitation of labour", "of illicit
money trafficking and financial speculation", "of prostitution, which every day
reaps innocent victims, especially the young, robbing them of their future", "of
the abomination of human trafficking, crimes and abuses against minors, the
horror of slavery still present in many parts of the world; the frequently
overlooked tragedy of migrants, who are often victims of disgraceful and
illegal manipulation". And "we cannot help but think of the inhumane
conditions in so many prisons, where those in custody are often reduced to a
subhuman status in violation of their human dignity and stunted in their hope
and desire for rehabilitation".
Fraternity helps to
preserve and cultivate nature", because it is a "common gift" from the
Creator, while " so often we are driven by greed and by the arrogance of
dominion, possession, manipulation and exploitation; we do not preserve nature;
nor do we respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and
set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations".
"In a particular way, the agricultural sector is the primary productive
sector with the crucial vocation of cultivating and protecting natural
resources in order to feed humanity. In this regard the continuing disgrace of
hunger in the world moves me to share with you the question: How are we using
the earth's resources? Contemporary societies should reflect on the hierarchy
of priorities to which production is directed. It is a truly pressing duty to
use the earth's resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger. Initiatives
and possible solutions are many, and are not limited to an increase in production.
It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of
persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal. We
need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth,
not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who
must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of
justice, equality and respect for every human being. In this regard I would
like to remind everyone of that necessary universal destination of all goods
which is one of the fundamental principles of the Church's social teaching. Respect
for this principle is the essential condition for facilitating an effective and
fair access to those essential and primary goods which every person needs and
to which he or she has a right".
concludes the Pope - needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, proclaimed and
witnessed to. But only love, bestowed as a gift from God, enables us to accept
and fully experience fraternity.
The necessary realism proper to politics and economy cannot be reduced to mere
technical know-how bereft of ideals and unconcerned with the transcendent
dimension of man. When this openness to God is lacking, every human activity is
impoverished and persons are reduced to objects that can be exploited. Only
when politics and the economy are open to moving within the wide space ensured
by the One who loves each man and each woman, will they achieve an ordering
based on a genuine spirit of fraternal charity and become effective instruments
of integral human development and peace.
We Christians believe that in the Church we are all members of a single body,
all mutually necessary, because each has been given a grace according to the
measure of the gift of Christ, for the common good (cf. Eph 4:7,25; 1 Cor
12:7). Christ has come to the world so as to bring us divine grace, that is,
the possibility of sharing in his life. This entails weaving a fabric of
fraternal relationships marked by reciprocity, forgiveness and complete
self-giving, according to the breadth and the depth of the love of God offered
to humanity in the One who, crucified and risen, draws all to himself: "A new
commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my
disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:34-35). This is the good
news that demands from each one a step forward, a perennial exercise of
empathy, of listening to the suffering and the hopes of others, even those
furthest away from me, and walking the demanding path of that love which knows
how to give and spend itself freely for the good of all our brothers and