A Word of Hope for 2020

Bishop Marc Stenger and Sr. Wamuyu Wachira, co-presidents of Pax Christi International

REFLECTION BY THE CO-PRESIDENTS OF PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL ON POPE FRANCIS 53rd WORLD DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE (for 1 JANUARY 2020)

Pope Francis’ 52nd World Day of Peace message in the year 2019, invited us to reflect on the theme “Good politics is at the service of peace”. The Pope’s message was that politics, though essential to building human communities and institutions, can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole. This year, 2020 Pope Francis’s 53rd World Day of Peace theme is “Peace as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”. The reflection on this theme is captured in the following sections of his message (i) Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial. (2) Peace, a journey of listening based on memory, solidarity and fraternity. (3) Peace, a journey of reconciliation in fraternal communion. (4) Peace, a journey of ecological conversion.

In a world devastated by war and conflicts which often affect the marginalized and the vulnerable of our society, we are being invited to reflect on peace as the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. The virtue of hope inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem overwhelming. The Pope discusses the different forms of violence that are tearing humanity apart and their true significance. He points out: “Every war is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood and [sisterhood]”.

The message of Pope Francis is a very strong message, a vocational message. This vocation is that of children of God, brothers and sisters. But the Pope underlines “our inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of … domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other”. He emphasizes the fact that “war is fueled by a perversion of relationship, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuse of power, by fear of others and seeing diversity as an obstacle”. On the contrary, in respecting, trusting others and seeing them as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters, we can ‘break the spirit of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope’. …

Read the full letter from Pax Christi International’s co-presidents, Bishop Marc Stenger (France) and Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira (Kenya)

Video: Live Chat with Rose Berger & Betsy Shirley on Catholic Nonviolence Initiative

Here’s a 30 minute chat with Sojourners editors Rose Berger and Betsy Shirley on the “Game Changer?” cover article in Sojourners’ December 2016 issue. (Link to this video.)

It was great to have live questions from the Facebook audience!

Find out more about the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and sign an Appeal to the Catholic Church to Recommit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence.

Get ready for the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Peace on the theme of Nonviolence.

 

‘A Hungry Man Is An Angry Man’: Christians and Muslims Together in Overcoming Poverty

Christians and Muslims attend Mass in Baghdad as a celebration for Muslims rebuilding the church.
Christians and Muslims attend Mass in Baghdad as a celebration for Muslims rebuilding the church.

The Vatican’s inter-religious dialogue council sent a “Happy Id al-Fitr” message to Muslims around the world as they come to the end of Ramadan on Sept 19-20 by inviting them into common cause on ending poverty.

Ramadan is a time when Muslims reflect more deeply on the real meaning of life by being close to God and their neighbors. As part of this, they heighten their awareness of the needs of others, especially the poor, though fasting and practices of charity.

Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty looks at poverty that is the result of human sin and the loss of human dignity but also at poverty that is chosen and embraced as an example of one’s humility before God.

Indonesian priest Markus Solo serves in the middle of enormous tensions and violence between Muslims and Christians and between people of genuine faith and extremists. Around the world, Solo says, poverty “is getting worse after the recent economic and financial crisis. Everybody knows that poverty is a real and bitter challenge for people living in the developing countries, which also happen to be religious ones.”

The Vatican message noted a link between poverty and extremism or violence, a theme Father Solo echoed. He quoted the English proverb: “A hungry man is an angry man.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Vatican’s invitation:

On the occasion of your feast which concludes the month of Ramadan, I would like to extend my best wishes for peace and joy to you and, through this Message, propose this theme for our reflection: Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty. …

In his talk on the occasion of the World Day for Peace, 1st January 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI distinguished two types of poverty: a poverty to be combated and a poverty to be embraced.

The poverty to be combated is before the eyes of everyone: hunger, lack of clean water, limited medical care and inadequate shelter, insufficient educational and cultural systems, illiteracy, not to mention also the existence of new forms of poverty “…in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty…” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2009, n. 2).

The poverty to be embraced is that of a style of life which is simple and essential, avoiding waste and respecting the environment and the goodness of creation. This poverty can also be, at least at certain times during the year, that of frugality and fasting. It is the poverty which we choose which predisposes us to go beyond ourselves, expanding the heart.

As believers, the desire to work together for a just and durable solution to the scourge of poverty certainly also implies reflecting on the grave problems of our time and, when possible, sharing a common commitment to eradicate them. In this regard, the reference to the aspects of poverty linked to the phenomena of globalization of our societies has a spiritual and moral meaning, because all share the vocation to build one human family in which all – individuals, peoples and nations – conduct themselves according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility. …

The poor question us, they challenge us, but above all they invite us to cooperate in a noble cause: overcoming poverty!

Read the whole message here. (As an aside, this message also references JPII’s 2001 address on establishing a “common ethical code,” particularly in the financial industry. It’s worth a read.)