07/13/2006, 00.00
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Pope: human being is the heart of peace

This is the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for the fortieth World Day of Peace, which will be marked on 1 January.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The theme chosen by Benedict XVI for the upcoming World Day of Peace – to be marked on 1 January, the 40th anniversary of its establishment by Paul VI – is "The human being: heart of peace", and it aims to express the belief that "respect of human dignity is an essential condition for peace in the human family".

A Vatican statement was issued today to describe the chosen reflection that will be the subject of a message by Benedict XVI for the Day. The statement highlighted the reason for the choice, setting it against the pope's beehive of activity against several deteriorating aspects of modern culture.

The Vatican said: "Today, perhaps with more persuasive force and more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assaulted by a distorted use of science and technology and negated by several incongruent lifestyles. In fact, some ideologies, based on nihilism and (materialistic or religious) fanaticism, claim to negate or to impose presumed truths about reality, man or God. Instead of serving the common good of mankind, science and technology (especially bio-medicine) are often instrumental in furthering an egotistical vision of progress and well being. Further, propaganda and a growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles that go against human dignity weaken the hearts and minds of people to the extent of snuffing out the desire for ordered and peaceful living. All this represents a threat to mankind, since peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does not seek the common good."

Human dignity is, in fact, "the seal impressed by God upon man, created in His image and likeness (Gen1:26-27), it is the sign of mankind's shared destiny, it is the foundation of love for God and one's neighbour. It is only in the awareness of the transcendent dignity of each and every man and woman that the human family is on the path that leads to peace and communion with God".

Following the mission to "announce the Gospel of Life, the centrality of man in the universe and the love of God for mankind", the Church responds to the challenges of the present time "with a Christian anthropology based on the three pillars of human dignity, sociability and behaviour in the world, which should be oriented towards the order impressed by God upon the universe (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37) and in the perspective of integral and supportive humanism tending towards the holistic development of all mankind (Paul VI,  Populorum Progressio)".

The statement continues: "Vatican Council II already emphasized how 'the Church knows perfectly well her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart when she champions the dignity of the human vocation, restoring hope to those who have already despaired of anything higher than their present lot' (Gaudium et spes, 21). Any offence against mankind is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offence against the truth of mankind and of God: 'The human person is the heart of peace'!"

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