Vatican City (AsiaNews) The "truth of peace", which is fundamentally respect for the order God impressed upon human society, is the "irrepressible yearning" that each person feels. It is hindered by lying, the first sin, which underlies evils such as relativism and nihilism; evils that must be fought because of how they wrongly relate to truth and give rise to fanaticism, even religious fanaticism, which in turn cause terrorism and wars.
'In Truth, Peace' is the title of Pope Benedict XVI's first message for World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, a message that gives the Holy Father the opportunity to further develop his views on a subject that is important to him and underscores his motives to fight relativism and nihilism.
The message notes that, despite some positive signs such as fewer conflicts and potentially positive change in places like Palestine, the world is still far from the "truth of peace", which is threatened by the "lies" of terrorism, discrimination, violence, too many weapons, especially nuclear weapons.
The Church continues to be committed to the struggle against this evil and calls for the collaboration of other religions and men of good will. It also urges the international community to act on the matter, including through UN reform.
The message comes in four parts, in each of which "the subject of peace is progressively discussed in relation to the various aspects of the truth of peace," said Card Raffaele Renato Martino, chairman of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, in presenting the papal message.
"The first part, which is theological and spiritual in nature, stresses the meaning and value of the connection between peace, truth and lying. In the second, the truth of peace is viewed in light of actual war situations. In the third, the truth of peace is seen in terms of the tragic and explosive reality of terrorism. In the fourth, the truth of peace is offered as reference point to the urgent need to restart disarmament talks, especially at the international level".
For Benedict XVI, peace should not be seen as "the mere absence of war, but as a harmonious coexistence of individual citizens within a society governed by justice, one in which the good is also achieved, to the extent possible, for each of them" (n. 6).
Today, the Pope notes, terrorists continue to deny "the truth of peace". Their "deadly strategies [. . .] are often the fruit of a tragic and disturbing nihilism", which Pope John Paul II had already condemned, "warning against attempts to impose, rather than to propose for others freely to accept, one's own convictions about the truth" (n. 9). Fundamentalism is not different for it, too, seeks to impose its "truth". Both show a dangerous contempt for human beings and human life, and ultimately for God himself" (n. 10).
On the positive side, the Pope notes the "the decrease in the number of armed conflicts" and "a few, very tentative steps forward along the path of peace, yet ones which even now are able to hold out a future of greater serenity, particularly for the suffering people of Palestine, the land of Jesus, and for those living in some areas of Africa and Asia, who have waited for years for the positive conclusion of the ongoing processes of pacification and reconciliation" (n.12). These steps need the constructive co-operation of the international community.
Speaking about the role played by the military in peace missions, Benedict XVI said he couldn't "fail to mention the many soldiers engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace" (n. 8).
Still, "violent fratricidal conflicts and devastating wars" continue, and sometimes the authorities "incite their citizens to hostility towards other nations", highlighting alleged differences within the one human kind; in doing so, they bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the consequences.
"In this regard, one can only note with dismay the evidence of a continuing growth in military expenditure and the flourishing arms trade," the message says.
"What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries?"
What is needed is to renew the political and legal process leading to disarmament, something that would benefit poor countries, "which rightly demand, after having heard so many promises, the concrete implementation of their right to development" (n. 15).
In conclusion, all this confirms is that "if peace is to be authentic and lasting, it must be built on the bedrock of the truth about God and the truth about man. This truth alone can create a sensitivity to justice and openness to love and solidarity, while encouraging everyone to work for a truly free and harmonious human family" (n. 15). (FP)