Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pope Francis: There is an “atmosphere of war” in the world, we need real peace-builders

The following comes from Vatican Insider:

“In the context of global communications” today, “we sense an atmosphere of war. Those who want “conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms,” seek to “foment this atmosphere”. What we need is “peacemakers”, “that is, those who make peace”, not those who just talk about it.

At Koševo stadium in Sarajevo, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1984 Winter Olympics, Pope Francis was welcomed by a huge crowd, meeting Catholics in the same place where John Paul II was welcomed in April 1997. Back then, it was cold and snowing; today, however, the over 50,000 faithful present sat under a scorching sun. A section of the stadium was reserved for those mutilated and wounded in the civil war which crushed the city’s inhabitants in the 1990’s. Arriving at the stadium, the improvised cemeteries created during the last conflict and filled with hundreds of Christian and Muslim graves, are in plain sight.

The Pope pronounced the homily in Italian, and interpreted into Croatian. “The word peace echoes several times through the Scripture readings.” Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation. And it is a plan which always meets opposition from men and from the evil one,” the Pope added. Even in our time, the desire for peace and the commitment to build peace collide against the reality of many armed conflicts presently affecting our world. They are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.

Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!”

“Within this atmosphere of war,” Francis continued, “like a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds, resound the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Francis pointed out that Jesus did not say “Blessed are the preachers of peace”, since all are capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner,” instead he said: “Blessed are the peacemakers”, “that is, those who make peace.”

Crafting peace is a skilled work,” the Pope stressed. “It requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy...” “Peacemaking is a work to be carried forward each day, step-by-step, without ever growing tired.”

So how does one do this, how do we build peace?” Francis then asked. He found his answer in the Prophet Isaiah, who reminds us that “the effect of righteousness will be peace”. Opus justitiae pax (“the work of justice is peace”, Ed.), from the Vulgate version of Scripture, has become a famous motto, even adopted prophetically by Pope Pius XII. Peace is a work of justice. Here too,” Francis added, “not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned... but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

When, by the grace of God, we truly follow this commandment, how things change! Because we ourselves change! Those whom I looked upon as my enemy really have the same face as I do, the same heart, the same soul. We have the same Father in heaven. True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people.”

But the Pope also urged us “not to fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us”. “We would fall into an illusive moralizing. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace.”

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