12/11/2007, 00.00
VATICAN – WORLD PEACE DAY 2008

The Pope on the war against the family and world peace

Bernardo Cervellera
Pro-family policies are needed for universal peace in China as much as in Italy. The reference to God is not the cause of religious wars, but rather the basis for world coexistence.

Rome (AsiaNews) –Benedict XVI’s message for World Peace Day 2008 focuses on The human family, a community of peace and is a clarion call in an indifferent world. Who, in an age marked by individualism and materialism, are those concerned that families, based on “based on marriage between a man and a woman,” be a place that teaches peace? Pressure from common-law and gay couples as well as individual rights proclaimed till the death of others leaves the institution of the family weak and undefended. And what state through its broad economic planning does not “directly or indirectly stands in the way [. . .] to responsible acceptance of a new life,” undermining parents’ right to be children’s first educators?

Among the many countries China comes first to mind with its violent birth control policies and its ban on religious education before the age of 18, policies that constitute “an objective obstacle on the road to peace.”

But in Beijing more and more people are now realising that the one-child policy is cause of violence. According to the China Daily, two thirds of the four million recorded crimes in the country are committed by minors. By the same token, the number of young offenders has gone from 33,000 in 1988 to 80,000 this year. 

For many a Chinese expert inadequate schooling and family break-ups caused by divorce and urban migration push young criminals to form real gangs that are involved in all sorts of crimes.

The West, including Italy, should be added to the list of those regions and countries that are at war with the family, places where trials of the RU486 abortive pill are carried out, where the tax burden is higher on married couples than on singles, where mothers who want to work cannot find kindergarten space, where the equality between state and private school systems is still not achieved.

In short the Pope is saying that we should be concerned about the wellbeing of families, the quality of education and health care as well as the protection of children not simply as if they were emergency social services but as way to advance universal peace.

In his message Benedict XVI lifts the veil from government’s public statements in which they hail peace and dialogue in international summits but forget to take small measures on behalf of families in their own societies.

Indeed it is not as if the Pope is not concerned about the world; on the contrary, he is much worried about conflicts in Africa, terrorism in the Middle East, the nuclear arms race. But he does point out that to solve these problems we must look at the world as a family, a “common house.” For this reason, along with but ahead of any opposition to the arms race comes the sharing of energy resources, the caring for the environment and sustainable development, the commitment to the poor “who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all.”

For the Holy Father, this can happen if we convert, acknowledging God “as the deepest source of our own existence and that of others.” For in “going back to this supreme principle we are able to perceive the unconditional worth of each human being, and thus [in a position] to lay the premises for building a humanity at peace. Without this transcendent foundation, society is a mere aggregation of neighbours, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family” (n. 6).

In a world that is launched on a fast race towards economic globalisation but very slow when it comes to showing its solidarity, religion is thought to be a cause of all the wars. But for Benedict XVI peace is instead rooted in the reference to God and moral norms that are based on objective natural law which must inspire the laws of the world. There is no doubt that on paper the world is preparing itself for an almighty and Godless “Kingdom of God,” but this is more likely to turn into the “perverse end” of all things (cf Spe Salvi, n. 23).”

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