Violence fixes nothing; world needs politics of peace, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ahmed Jallanzo, EPA

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Calling for a new style of politics
built on peace and nonviolence, Pope Francis also called for disarmament, the
eradication of nuclear weapons and an end to domestic violence and abuse
against women and children.

“Violence is not the cure for our broken
world,” he said in his annual message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1.

“It is a challenge to build up society, communities
and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to
discard people, harm the environment or seek to win at any cost,” he

The message, released by the Vatican Dec. 12, said
building a world of peace requires a “willingness to face conflict head
on, to resolve it” and to make it part of a new process of choosing
solidarity and building friendships.

“Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity
is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict,” the pope said.
While differences will sometimes lead to difficulties, “let us face them
constructively and non-violently,” so that tension and opposition can turn
into “diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is
valid and useful on both sides.”

His message, which the Vatican sends to heads of state
around the world, invited everyone “to banish violence from our hearts,
words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to build nonviolent
communities that care for our common home.”

Building a new politics of nonviolence starts in the
human heart and the home, he said.

It is in the family that people can learn how to
communicate, be generous and caring, and resolve conflicts “not by force
but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.”

From within the family, “the joy of love spills out
into the world and radiates to the whole of society,” he said.

This “ethics of fraternity and peaceful
coexistence” can never be “based on the logic of fear, violence and
closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue.”

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

The church contributes by seeking to limit the use of
force by applying moral norms, and many Christians contribute by drafting

“To be true followers of Jesus today also includes
embracing his teaching about nonviolence,” he said, and follow his
practice of tackling evil with love and truth.

In fact, an important “manual” for peacemaking,
he said, is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where he presented the Beatitudes.

Applying the Beatitudes, which outlines how to be
blessed, good and authentic, “is also a program and a challenge for
political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and
business and media executives,” the pope said.

The “politics of nonviolence,” he said, also
begins with each individual, who will never miss an opportunity to offer a kind
word, smile or simple gesture that “sows peace and friendship.”

“I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence
in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern
how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international

When victims of violence resist the temptation to
retaliate, “they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent
peacemaking” in the tradition of those who struggled actively and
nonviolently for change such as St. Teresa of Kolkata, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin
Luther King Jr. and the thousands of women in Liberia who helped end their nation’s
civil war, Pope Francis wrote.

Many religious traditions contribute by promoting
compassion and nonviolence and protecting victims of injustice, he said. For
that reason, “I emphatically reaffirm that ‘no religion is
terrorist'” and the name of God can never be “used to justify
violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”

“In the most local and ordinary situations and in
the international order,” he wrote, “may nonviolence become the
hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of
political life in all its forms.”

Speaking with reporters at the Vatican, Cardinal Peter
Turkson said the pope’s message is meant to remind people that active
nonviolence is not “a utopian idea” but is a truly “feasible

Diplomacy and the hope for peace negotiations must never
be neglected because “the diplomatic channel always gives us the
possibility for dialogue” where all sides can speak face-to-face, said the
cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He
will serve as prefect of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human
Development, which will consolidate the work of four pontifical councils.

He said the new dicastery will be conducting a deeper
reflection on the appropriateness of how the traditional Catholic just-war
theory is being used today.

While there are no plans for a papal encyclical on the
subject, he said the dicastery will organize a number of seminars and events to
bring in experts to discuss various “points of view” on the theory
that some wars can be justified in order to “analyze” the findings
and publish the conclusions.

A deeper reflection is needed, he told reporters, because
just-war criteria are not always used for their original intent of preventing
or discouraging war. “Now it is used for other different reasons,” he

The cardinal also said while the new dicastery was set to
begin Jan. 1, 2017, he said he asked Pope Francis if they could extend that
date to “around Easter” given the amount of work in re-organizing and
building a new approach with the help of an outside consultant.

Some of the councils’ former offices will continue their
work in research and study and a new department will be established to apply or
put into practice different projects. He said he hoped the new dicastery would
have a better communications strategy with a specialized office dedicated to
sharing information and reaching out to media.

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Editors: The text of the pope’s message in English and
Spanish can be found online at:

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