Thursday, February 02, 2017

Archbishop Gallagher in Japan promoting culture of peace

Image result for Archbishop Paul Richard GallagherArchbishop Paul Richard Gallagher is wrapping up a week-long visit to Japan during which he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and celebrated Mass in the city of Hiroshima.

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States confirmed the Holy See's cooperation with Japan regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday Archbishop Gallagher held a ‘Lectio Magistralis’ at the Jesuit-run University of Sophia in Tokyo, dedicated to the promotion of a culture of peace.

During his lesson, Gallagher spoke of the important contribution made by a Catholic University which takes into account a global and not merely intellectual formation of the whole person.

Quoting Pope Francis he said that “if the university becomes no more than an academy of ideas or an assembly line of professionals, or its structure is determined by a business mentality, then it has truly lost its way”.

He said that one must never tire of  looking at the world, with its events and actors, critically but also constructively, asking us not to  “exclude” and appealing  for “necessary dialogue” as a method proper to cultural and educational processes.

Referring to the core message of his lesson, Gallagher said “the question of peace involves more than politics or diplomatic activity; it is directly linked to culture and to the sphere of ethics and moral conscience that can generate much apprehension, yet is so greatly needed in international relations”.


He pointed out  that the “vision of peace proposed by the magisterium of the Catholic Church does not necessarily coincide with that current in the community of the nations, as summarized, for example, by the contents of the UN Charter.  The difference does not simply have to do with issues involving the use of force or the obligations incumbent upon states, but with the conviction that peace calls first and foremost for preventing the causes that lead to war.  

“To bring about true peace, it is necessary to bring people together concretely so as to reconcile peoples and groups with opposing ideological positions.  It is also necessary to work together for what persons, families, peoples and nations feel is their right, namely to participate on a social, political and economic level in the goods of the modern world”.

Thus, Gallagher said, peace on earth is thus the result of any number of factors, of which a culture of peace is the vehicle. 

He said Pope speaks of  “a war being fought piecemeal” as a way of perceiving, among the many possible causes of conflict (selfish interests, poverty, lack of development, territorial dominion, spheres of influence...), the one that is essential.  


Working for peace, he said, demands returning to the bases of human relationships and thus recovering the bases of the internal order of nations and the international order.  


“As Pope Francis sees it, this means that true peace cannot come about “without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development”.  

A true culture of peace, then, calls for concrete commitments requiring solid and structured foundations: exactly the opposite of the frequently heard idea that “a single theoretical and aprioristic solution will provide an answer to all the challenges”.

Archbishop Gallagher’s long lesson goes on to illustrate tools that are at the disposal of world leaders, he talks about the culture of peace and the threat to peace which today “comes not only from traditional wars and hostilities, whether domestic or international, but also from other problems”.


He talks of a return to the vision of just peace which includes religious freedom in its varied forms, among which is conscientious objection and points out that a culture of peace can also make a huge contribution to anti-terrorism strategies.

Archbishop Gallagher talked about the goals to be achieved, the use of dialogue, discussion and negotiation as well as “the language of the magisterium, this involves a correct and consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity”.

He reflected on the areas of development and international cooperation, on the more general fight against poverty which “presupposes a common agreement that can only be the result of an effective solidarity between states”.

“This would involve a greater appreciation of the role of intellectual property, an area in which a consistent culture of peace is called to recognize the right of researchers and producers to just compensation, so that new developments can truly be at the service of the common good of the human family” he said.


Gallagher concluded calling for a “prophetic vision that can bring together the human, cultural and religious aspects and thus offer our contemporary world a firm common witness to the service of goodness, the service of dialogue and the service of peace.  

In this context, the university has a fundamental task as a place of encounter between faith and reason, between memory of the past and scientific development towards the future, and as a place of encounter and discussion between different visions of life, technology, politics and religious convictions.  That task is to prepare the way for a future of peace, an attainable future, a future for all”.

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