One word in particular resounds in the two principal Christian feasts. We hear it in the song of the angels who proclaimed in the night of the birth of the Saviour, and we hear it again in the greeting of the risen Jesus. That word is “peace”. Peace is primarily a gift of God, for it is he who has left us his peace (cf. Jn 14:27). Yet it is also a responsibility incumbent upon all of us: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). To strive for peace. A word so simple, yet so demanding and rich in meaning. Today I would like to concentrate our reflections on peace, at a moment in history when it is increasingly threatened, weakened and in part lost. For that matter, it is the responsibility of the Holy See within the international community to be a prophetic voice and to appeal to consciences.
On Christmas Eve 1944, Pope Pius XII delivered a memorable Radio Message to the peoples of the world. The Second World War was drawing to a close after more than five years of conflict and humanity sensed – in the Pope’s words – “an ever more clear and firm will: to make of this world war, this universal upheaval, the starting point for a new era marked by profound renewal”. Some eighty years later, the impetus for that “profound renewal”, appears to have receded, and our world is witnessing a growing number of conflicts that are slowly turning what I have often called “a third world war fought piecemeal” into a genuine global conflict [...]
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