Anyone who undermines the family undermines peace, says Pope
by Franco Pisano
In his message for World Peace Day Benedict XVI says that in the family one can experience and be taught peace. For this reason the “family of peoples” must protect it and be inspired by it so as to be able to manage the “common house.” Mankind, which is more important than nature, must use the natural environment and the international community in non-selfish ways and be concerned about a model of sustainable development, all of which requires a moral norm. The Pope also expresses concerns over the arms race, including the race for atomic weapons.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Vatican announced today that The human family, a community of peace is the theme of Benedict XVI’s message for the 41st World Peace Day which will be celebrated on 1 January. In his address the Holy Father says that whoever, “even unknowingly,” goes against the family “based on marriage between a man and a woman” undermines peace because the family is the “primary agency of peace” on earth. He goes further noting that this earth of ours is the “common house” for the “family of peoples” who are tasked with preserving it, pursuing a path of dialogue at a time of concern over a looming arms race.


In his message the Pope starts from the premise that “in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace” like justice, love, mutual aid and openness to others. The family thus enables its members to experience and teach peace. Hence hostility to the family means undermining the peace. For this reason we must be inspired by its values whether at the community, national and international levels.

The international community is in fact a “family of peoples” that lives in a “common house,” the earth. God gave mankind the environment to “be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.” It follows that “[h]uman beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole.” However, “[r]especting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man.” It does not mean selfishly using the environment but rather preserving it for future generations and sharing it with the poor. This in turn means that using the earth must be based on agreements on a “model of sustainable development” which takes into account the need to manage energy resources and calls on rich countries to deal with their high levels of consumption. It involves costs that “should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries.” Wealth too ought to be distributed more equitably.

A family that lives in peace needs a common standard that “prevents selfish individualism and brings individuals together.” This principle holds true for the family at all levels. The basis for such a principle cannot be found in “a fragile and provisional consensus” but in a “moral norm” which is grounded in God’s creative reason which “[h]uman reason is capable of discerning.” Thus mankind is not lawless but is called to commit its “finest intellectual energies” to find, recognise and thus respect this norm.

“Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future. Vast areas of the world are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person.”

For Benedict XVI civil wars in Africa are an example of this situation—despite some signs of the continent’s “progress on the road to freedom and democracy” —; so are conflicts and terrorist attacks in the Middle East.

“On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of states engaged in the arms race,” a situation in which “the countries of the industrially developed world profit immensely from the sale of arms, while the ruling oligarchies in many poor countries wish to reinforce their stronghold.”

“[C]oncrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization” are needed, “especially in the area of nuclear arms” which should be dismantled.

Lastly the Pope appeals to the peoples of the world on behalf of those who care about humanity’s future, urging “every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace. I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace.”