2023 World Day of Peace: no one is saved alone, says Pope
In his message for the observance the Church celebrates on 1 January, the pontiff speaks about the latest Covid-19 wave in light of the global consequences of the war in Ukraine. For him, “the virus of war is more difficult to overcome than the viruses that compromise our bodies, because it comes, not from outside of us, but from within the human heart corrupted by sin”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Vatican Press Office this morning released Pope Francis’s message for the 56th World Day of Peace, which the Church will celebrate it on 1 January 2023,
In his message titled “No one can be saved alone. Combatting Covid-19 together, embarking together on paths of peace”, the pontiff notes that all crises are interconnected, yet “the virus of war is more difficult to overcome than the viruses that compromise our bodies, because it comes, not from outside of us, but from within the human heart corrupted by sin”.
Taking his cue from the passage in the First Letter to the Thessalonians in which Saint Paul writes that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1Ts 5,1-2), Francis takes stock of the legacy left by the pandemic, inviting us to reread it in relation to the experience of war in Ukraine and all the other conflicts in the world, which represent “a setback for the whole of humanity and not merely for the parties directly involved.”
“In addition to its physical aspects, Covid-19 led to a general malaise in many individuals and families; the long periods of isolation and the various restrictions on freedom contributed to this malaise, with significant long-term effects.”
Because of this, Francis writes that we cannot “overlook the fractures in our social and economic order that the pandemic exposed, and the contradictions and inequalities that it brought to the fore. It threatened the job security of many individuals and aggravated the ever-increasing problem of loneliness in our societies, particularly on the part of the poor and those in need.”
Now, “Three years later, the time is right to question, learn, grow and allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals and as communities; this is a privileged moment to prepare for ‘the day of the Lord’.”
For the Holy Father, “the greatest lesson we learned from Covid-19 was the realization that we all need one another. That our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. And that none of us can be saved alone”.
Thus, “we urgently need to join together in seeking and promoting the universal values that can guide the growth of this human fraternity. We also learned that the trust we put in progress, technology and the effects of globalization was not only excessive, but turned into an individualistic and idolatrous intoxication, compromising the very promise of justice, harmony and peace that we so ardently sought.”
The pandemic had moments where the light shone, that saw a return to humility, less consumerism, and a show of solidarity to the point of heroism in many people.
Yet, “at the very moment when we dared to hope that the darkest hours of the Covid-19 pandemic were over, a terrible new disaster befell humanity. We witnessed the onslaught of another scourge: another war, to some extent like that of Covid-19, but driven by culpable human decisions.”
For Francis, “The war in Ukraine is reaping innocent victims and spreading insecurity, not only among those directly affected, but in a widespread and indiscriminate way for everyone, also for those who, even thousands of kilometres away, suffer its collateral effects – we need but think of grain shortages and fuel prices.”
In fact, at the press conference presenting the message, Maximo Torero, chief economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimated that spending in food imports for the 62 most vulnerable countries in the world rose by US$ 25 billion as a result of the war in Ukraine, up by 39 per cent over 2020.
“While a vaccine has been found for Covid -19, suitable solutions have not yet been found for the war,” notes bitterly Francis. What to do then? We must “let our hearts be changed” and “let God, at this time in history, transform our customary criteria for viewing the world around us. We can no longer think exclusively of carving out space for our personal or national interests; instead, we must think in terms of the common good, recognizing that we belong to a greater community, and opening our minds and hearts to universal human fraternity.
“We cannot continue to focus simply on preserving ourselves; rather, the time has come for all of us to endeavour to heal our society and our planet, to lay the foundations for a more just and peaceful world, and to commit ourselves seriously to pursuing a good that is truly common.”
Hence, we must realise that “the many moral, social, political and economic crises we are experiencing are all interconnected”. In fact, “We must revisit the issue of ensuring public health for all. We must promote actions that enhance peace and put an end to the conflicts and wars that continue to spawn poverty and death. We urgently need to join in caring for our common home and in implementing clear and effective measures to combat climate change.
“We need to battle the virus of inequality and to ensure food and dignified labour for all, supporting those who lack even a minimum wage and find themselves in great difficulty. The scandal of entire peoples starving remains an open wound. We also need to develop suitable policies for welcoming and integrating migrants and those whom our societies discard.”
“Only by responding generously to these situations, with an altruism inspired by God’s infinite and merciful love, will we be able to build a new world and contribute to the extension of his kingdom, which is a kingdom of love, justice and peace.”