Pope Benedict XVI’s Message fot he “World Day of Peace” was released yesterday. I was at the press conference.
In this document his theme is “In truth, peace”. Benedict’s focus ultimately is on possibility of peace founded upon the truth, indeed, the Truth who is Christ.
Some salient points:
– The Document is highly Augustinian – making reference both to man’s restless heart without God (Confessions 1) and “tranquilitas ordinis” (Civ. Dei 19)
– The Pope says twice that “peace is not merely the absence of war”.
– He emphasizes “order”, using the word 5 times in two paragraphs, citing Augustine explicitly.
– He has a powerful paragraph on lying and lies. (My parenthetical: Lying, by the way, is the only thing for which Augustine can find no legitimate exception.
– He says that international humanitarian law ought to be “binding” but at the same time he says that the U.N., to be useful, must be reformed.
– In getting at the roots of conflict and the lack of peace, he references two extremes: Nihilism and Religious Fanaticism, which both distort the truth. Nihilism denies the existence of truth and denies God’s existence. Fanaticism imposes claims about truth by force, thus disfiguring God and relacing Him with idols. Both show contempt for human life and dignity.
– To find the causes of violence and terrorism (there is a strong focus on terrorism in the message) we must look not only at political and social causes but also deeper religious, cultural, and ideological motivtions.
-Benedict thanks soliders who are dedicated to promoting peace and also military chaplains.
– He strongly condemns nuclear arms and all efforts to obtain them.
My opinion about the message: While no Pope can say he is in favor of war, this document leaves plenty of room for the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. His affirmation of the UN is not without qualification.
I found it quite interesting that this document issues forth in the very week that Iraq goes to vote.