12/16/2011, 00.00
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Pope: only by "raising our eyes to God” can we educate young people to justice and peace

Benedict XVI's message for peace World Day for Peace highlights the need to offer young people, who must also be heard, an integral human formation. The role and duties of the family, of educators, policy makers and media. Relativism is an "obstacle" that promotes a conception of freedom that ultimately enslaves.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Teaching young people to peace, "which is not merely the absence of war ", and justice, which "is not just a human convention" means, in the end, "raising our eyes to God, who is the measure of what is right and at the same time is everlasting love" because" It is not ideologies that save the world”, says that Benedict XVI in his message for the 45th World Day of Peace, which will be held next January 1, dedicated to "Educating young people in justice and peace."

The document, released today, opens with an invitation to have a " confident trust " in the year that is about to begin, even if the one that has just ended "has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological”. But " In this shadow, however, human hearts continue to wait for the dawn."

This is especially true for young people and this is the reason for the "educational perspective" of the message, in the belief that young people " with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world." Young people "must be heard." And then "attentiveness to young people and their concerns, the ability to listen to them and appreciate them, is not merely something expedient; it represents a primary duty for society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and peace".

In this perspective, the Pope reaffirms that today " more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts; we need witnesses capable of seeing farther than others because their life is so much broader " Also in this perspective, the educational environment is in the family first of all. And in a time when it and the life "are continually threatened" by economic and social difficulties and a culture that tends to marginalize, Benedict XVI urges parents "not to lose heart", he asks " to those in charge of educational institutions "to" ensure that the dignity of each person is always respected and appreciated" and warned “political leaders " to "offer concrete assistance to families and educational institutions in the exercise of their right and duty to educate”.

An appeal, then, is addressed to "the media". " In today’s society the mass media have a particolar role: they not only inform but also form the minds of their audiences, and so they can make a significant contribution to the education of young people. It is important never to forget that the connection between education and communication is extremely close: education takes place through communication, which infl uences, for better or worse, the formation of the person. "

"Education, indeed, is concerned with the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, focused upon man’s final end and the good of the society to which he belongs. Therefore, in order to educate in truth, it is necessary first and foremost to know who the human person is, to know human nature. " "This is the fundamental question that must be asked: who is man? Man is a being who bears within his heart a thirst for the infinite, a thirst for truth – a truth which is not partial but capable of explaining life’s meaning – since he was created in the image and likeness of God. The grateful recognition that life is an inestimable gift, then, leads to the discovery of one’s own profound dignity and the inviolability of every single person. Hence the first step in education is learning to recognize the Creator’s image in man, and consequently learning to have a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity".

At the presentation of the papal document Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that what is required is that "together we build a new humanism, a new alliance between the humans who are able to build a world with a more human and fraternal face, where the technology does not prevail over the nature of the human being, where every business, cultural, political and economic activity is not only the fruit of knowledge and a technical logic but is nurtured by humanism. "

But, the Pope writes, " Only in relation to God does man come to understand also the meaning of human freedom."

"Freedom is a precious value, but a fragile one; it can be misunderstood and misused. “Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own self. With such a relativistic horizon, therefore, real education is not possible without the light of the truth; sooner or later, every person is in fact condemned to doubting the goodness of his or her own life and the relationships of which it consists, the validity of his or her commitment to build with others something in common.” In order to exercise his freedom, then, man must move beyond the relativistic horizon and come to know the truth about himself and the truth about good and evil. Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself, but which he must obey. Its voice calls him to love and to do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility
for the good he does and the evil he commits. Thus, the exercise of freedom is intimately linked to
the natural moral law, which is universal in character, expresses the dignity of every person and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and duties: consequently, in the final analysis, it forms the basis for just and peaceful coexistence. The right use of freedom, then, is central to the
promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others, including those whose
way of being and living differs greatly from one’s own. This attitude engenders the elements without which peace and justice remain merely words without content: mutual trust, the capacity to hold constructive dialogue, the possibility of forgiveness, which one constantly wishes to receive but finds hard to bestow, mutual charity, compassion towards the weakest, as well as readiness to make sacrifices"

In this perspective, for education in justice in today's world, " In this world of ours, in which, despite the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possessions, it is important not to detach the concept of justice from its transcendent roots. Justice, indeed, is not simply a human convention, since what is just is ultimately determined not by positive law, but by the profound identity of the human being. It is the integral vision of man that saves us from falling into a contractual conception of justice and enables us to locate justice within the horizon of solidarity and love”. Because the "city of man" is promoted not only by relationships of rights and duties, "but even more by relationships, of generosity, mercy and communion."

Educating for peace, then, means being aware that it "cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is the fruit of justice and the effect of charity. Peace is above all a gift of God. " To whom we “raise our eyes”.

To read the complete text of the Message, click here.
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