VATICAN CITY -- The world does not need more empty words, it needs committed, active peacemakers who do not exclude or manipulate, but are open to respectful dialogue, Pope Francis said in his annual message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1.

Published in Reflections

In his annual World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis has some sharp words for politicians. A couple of Canadian political veterans believe the Pope’s warnings about modern politics are spot on.

Published in Canada

An iconic soft drink commercial in 1971 invited the world to sing in perfect harmony. But the ad was hardly original. It came three years after Pope Paul VI made a profound pitch to teach the world to live in peaceful harmony.

Published in Editorial

It’s that time of year again. For Christians, the time from Christmas day until the Baptism of the Lord is the true Christmas season. It is, however, also the time for New Year’s resolutions.

Published in Glen Argan

The annual World Day of Peace message is an occasion that can’t help but highlight the idealism expected from popes.

Published in Faith

VATICAN CITY - Leaving their habits behind and disguised along with police in regular clothes, a small group of three or four nuns raid brothels in Calcutta, India, at night, snatching young women and girls as young as 12 from the clutches of their captors.

Published in International

TORONTO - On World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI said the enthusiasm and idealism of youth offers new hope to the world. 

As he talked about the theme of “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” Jan. 1, he emphasized the potential of young people in today’s society, as well as the responsibilities of parents, educators and youth to look towards Christ and encourage each other. 

Antonio Fernando, a first-year English student at the University of Toronto, said acting on this message would mean better awareness of what’s going on in the world.

“At World Youth Day, (the Pope) wanted us to be open to whatever’s happening in the world, to appreciate where we are coming from and to keep improving ourselves,” said Fernando. 

Angela De Ciantis, a third-year psychology student at Toronto’s York University, takes a more internal approach to this theme.

“It shows a need to understand those terms (justice and peace), because you can have different interpretations,” she said. Not only should youth be aware of issues surrounding them, but they should also reflect on exactly how they see justice and peace, she said.

Pope Benedict XVI talked briefly about family, calling parents “the first educators.” Although Brandon Cheong, a Grade 11 student from Cardinal Newman Catholic High School in Toronto, understands the value of family, he said it is becoming less important from the perspective of our culture.

“You learn how to behave first from your parents, but today, the family is secondary to the values of society,” said Cheong.

“Families are spending less time with each other, so there’s no longer that binding heart of what the family used to be. Families rely more on the education system to say what’s acceptable.”

Also mentioned are the roles of teachers and educators, whom the Pope calls to promote Catholic values. 

Lisa Bailey, a Family Studies teacher at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, understands this responsibility. “(The Pope’s) message reinforces why we are called to be Catholic educators.  It’s not just to teach the curriculum, it’s about leading by example and walking with students on their faith journey,” said Bailey.

Bailey also said these tasks provide great challenges, particularly when struggling with  influences from society. “There’s a struggle between faith and things that happen in society around youth. You have your morals against what society says. Whether it be movies or television shows, there are conflicting messages that Catholics see that are not always in line with our faith.”

Many internal and external challenges face youth and those who try to encourage them. However, Pope Benedict’s message may yet be fulfilled if young people are willing to take it to heart.

De Ciantis suggests a simple idea: “To be a good example. When you demonstrate your faith, people notice. If you help others, people will be influenced to help more often.”

Published in Youth Speak News

VATICAN CITY - When young people recognize the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Peace and justice are built on “a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity,” the Pope said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012.

The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day Jan. 1. The Pope’s message for the occasion was released Dec. 16 at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world.

Published in Youth Speak News