United World Project


Peace, a journey of hope

14 January 2020   |   , Pace,
By Javier Baquero Maldonado*

Commentary on Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace 2020.

On January 1, 2020, Pope Francis in perfect continuity with Pope Paul VI who, back in 1968, established the Day of Peace on the first day of the year, celebrated its 53rd edition publishing a message representing a wish for a “path of human life in time, that Peace with its just and beneficent equilibrium may dominate the development of events to come”, just as Pope Paul VI wished. It is a particularly meaningful message given the context we are living in right now, with the world getting more and more disrupted and at risk of hate and war.

But what are the highlights of this message which concern us today?

The Pope recognizes that peace is truly a precious good. And this is the point which all those people who live in a country or an area at war, just like us, Colombians, who feel the horror of violence which has marked our whole history till these days and which made us lose our dignity, increased poverty and deprived us of harmony and happiness, are certain of. Francis makes it clear that “war is fuelled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war”.

But we still have hope as “the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable”. At the same time, though, we cannot keep on walking down the path of false security, made of fear and mistrust, where the investments in the arms industry are increasing more and more. Instead, we need trust, solidarity and also co-responsibility.

In this message it is highlighted how the universal fraternity is closely linked to peace. A number of religious leaders have already spoken about this connection in these past years. In 2002 in Rimini Chiara Lubich herself recognized that we are all one thing, deeply interdependent, and that “the highest dignity for the humanity would be that of not feeling like a group of peoples, often fighting with each other, but through mutual love, feeling like one whole people, enriched by the diversity of each individual, and thus a guardian of these different identities in their unity”. [1]

Equally, the Dalai Lama after several terrorist attacks in the US wrote, “We have not remembered the most basic human truths. (…) We are all one. That is a message the human race has largely ignored. Forgetting this truth is the only cause of hatred and war”.

Today Pope Frances reminds us that, “We must first appeal to people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will. Peace emerges from the depths of the human heart and political will must always be renewed, so that new ways can be found to reconcile and unite individuals and communities”.

Establishing peace is a long process, a permanent one, which can become a success only if it is a result of the co-responsibility on all levels simultaneously: on a local, national and international level, and based on the deep dialogue in the truth able to listen and to recognize the difference. The Pope makes a clear reference to the work aimed at the integral human development and to an economy offering more gratuitousness and communion as fundamental requirements for building peace.

The complex vision of Pope Francis’ thought consists in the fact that he does not only think of peace as a fact of human relationships. He goes deeper, embedding it in a more complete system of relationships, which also includes nature and our planet, being perfectly aware of how many wars are being started also for the purpose of continuous exploitation of territories to the detriment of the most poor. This is why he underlines that it is important “to respect and celebrate the life that we have received and share”, with a strong appeal to an ecological conversion, “understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life”.

And, lastly, the Pope concludes, “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for”, recognizing that peace is a daily achievement, which is obtained step by step. And he also makes Martin Luther King’s dream his own, “Today I have a dream (…) that (…) they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (…) With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men. This will be a glorious day; at that moment the morning stars will sing together, and the souls of God will shout for joy”.[2]

Che questo che inizia sia un anno per sognare un mondo in pace e che la nostra azione collettiva risponda concretamente a questo desiderio.

[1]  Quote by Chiara Lubich, “Fraternity and Peace for the Unity of Peoples”, conversation during the event in Rimini, June 22, 2002.

[2]  Quote by Martin Luther King, speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963

*Assistant Professor in Political Science, Istituto Universitario Sophia, Loppiano, -Italy