Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Peace is one of the values most needed by our world. Violent conflicts have taken place in the last century more than in any other previous historical era. Death, destruction, division, hate, are all terrible fruits of this plague. Violence engenders more violence and men destroy one another. Modern man yearns for peace. He needs it in order to reestablish himself interiorly.
Believers should be bearers of peace because God is the God of peace. This peace cannot come about if each one only worries about his own interests without working for the common good. In his visit to the Holy Land in May of this year, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned that peace is above all a gift from God, which must be sought with our entire heart. From this affirmation comes the fact that peace is something to ask for, implored, as it is a divine gift. However, it must also be sought, as it demands human efforts. Jesus calls those who work for peace “blessed” and truly children of God.
The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of other religions, in the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” affirms: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ 'the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.” (NA, 2)
In dialoguing with other religions, the Church does not seek to relativize the definitive truths received by divine revelation. She does not try to present Christ as just another path of salvation among many. In fact, no other name has been given under the heavens through which we can be saved. Maintaining this unique nature of the saving mediation of Christ, the Church “exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.” (NA, 2)
For Pope Benedict XVI, “the particular contribution of religions to the quest for peace lies primarily in the wholehearted, united search for God” (Courtesy Visit to the President of State of Israel, May 11, 2009), as it is the dynamic presence of God that unites hearts and guarantees unity.
On his flight home from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, speaking with journalists on the plane, the Holy Father affirmed: “I found everywhere, in every context, Muslim, Christian and Jewish, a determined readiness for interreligious dialogue, for encounter and collaboration among the religions. And it is important that everyone see this not only as an action let us say inspired by political motives in the given situation but as a fruit of the very core of faith. Because believing in one God who has created us all, the Father of us all, believing in this God who created humanity as a family, believing that God is love and wants love to be the dominant force in the world, implies this encounter, this need for an encounter, for dialogue, for collaboration as a requirement of faith itself.” (Papal Flight, May 15, 2009)
In social order, peace implies the search for justice, integrity, and security. To promote these values, there is only one path: live them. The Pope affirmed that to build peace, we need to “ look the other in the eye, and to recognize the 'Thou', as my equal, my brother, my sister.” (Courtesy Visit to the President of State of Israel, May 11, 2009) If believers live in peace and seek peace, society will transform.
A fundamental part of building peace is forgiveness. Only the one who has the strength and humility to forgive can be a herald of peace. Rancor engenders interior division and violence. Forgiveness engenders interior peace, rebuilds man, and makes him strong, in the image of Almighty God who is mercy and forgiveness.
In our prayer this month, we also ask Saint Mary, Mother of All Mankind, Queen of Peace, to intercede for her children, so that the sincere search for “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely” may allow “the God of peace” to ever remain with us (cf. Phil. 4:8-9). (Agenzia Fides 29/10/2009)