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Nonviolence is theme of Pope’s message for World Day of Peace

December 12, 2016

The Vatican has released the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace, which is entitled: “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.”

The World Day of Peace is observed on January 1. As usual, the papal message was released in advance, on December 12. It was signed by the Pontiff on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In the message the Pope argues that the Gospel is “the Magna Carta of Christian nonviolence.” The command to Christians to love their neighbors, he said, is a practical alternative to the “horrifying world war fought piecemeal” that we experience today. Violence achieves nothing, the Pope writes, and causes incalculable suffering. The only solution, he says, is to make nonviolence “the characteristic style of our decisions, our relationships, our actions, politics in all its forms.”

Nonviolence does not mean “surrender, lack of involvement, or passivity,” the Pope writes. He points tot the dedication and social involvement of famous practitioners of nonviolence, beginning with the example of St. Teresa of Calcutta and also citing Gandhi and more recent activists.

Although he emphasizes the link between Christianity and nonviolence, Pope Francis observes that “many religious traditions” also emphasize the need for compassion. He stresses, particularly, that “no religion is terrorist.”

In a section of the message devoted to family life, the Pope writes that the habits of compassion and caring for others are nurtured in the family and disrupted by violence and warfar. He continues:

Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics. I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

”I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence,” Pope Francis writes. He notes that the newly formed Vatican dicastery for Integral Human Development will officially begin its work on January 1—the World Day of Peace.


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  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Dec. 12, 2016 7:50 PM ET USA

    " the Qur'an there are two different choices, the aggressive and the peaceful, and both of them are acceptable.... This means that when some fanatics kill... in the name of pure and authentic Islam, or in the name of the Qur'an of of the Muslim tradition, nobody can tell them: 'You are not true and authentic Muslims...' And this is the ambiguity of Islam, from its beginning to the present day: violence is part of it, although it is also possible to choose tolerance." Samir Khalil Samir S.J.