Pope Francis greets children during a meeting with youngsters assisted by the Vatican’s St. Martha pediatric clinic in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 19. The Pope offered Christmas blessings and urged the children to listen to and help people in need. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope’s World Day of Peace message stresses dialogue, education

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • December 22, 2021

VATICAN CITY -- Governments must pour more money into education and drastically reduce military spending for there to be genuine progress and peace in the world, Pope Francis said in his annual message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1.

“It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry,” the Pope said.

“The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for health care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth.”

The Pope’s message was released Dec. 21 at a Vatican news conference led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Pope’s message, which the Vatican sends to heads of state around the world, invited everyone to “work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.”

Pope Francis proposed “three paths” for building lasting peace: dialogue between generations and concrete projects they can share; education aimed at building freedom, responsibility and development; and dignified labour that protects people’s rights and the environment.

“Great social challenges and peace processes necessarily call for dialogue between the keepers of memory — the elderly — and those who move history forward — the young,” Pope Francis said.

“The global crisis we are experiencing makes it clear that encounter and dialogue between generations should be the driving force behind a healthy politics,” one that “is not content to manage the present ‘with piecemeal solutions or quick fixes,’ but views itself as an outstanding form of love for others, in the search for shared and sustainable projects for the future,” he said.

Young people, he added, also should be given respect and encouragement for their commitment to working for a more just and sustainable world.

Education helps provide the skills and setting for dialogue between generations, co-operation and sharing expertise and experiences for promoting integral human development, he said. However, “there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments.”

At the same time, he said, military expenditures “have increased beyond the levels at the end of the Cold War and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly.”

He called on governments to cut military spending, boost investment in education and do more to “promote the culture of care, which, in the face of social divisions and unresponsive institutions, could become a common language working to break down barriers and build bridges.”

The Pope said that having dignified work is also part of building and keeping peace as it lets people contribute toward “a more habitable and beautiful world.”

But the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt many in a labour market and it has had a devastating impact on “the informal economy, which often involves migrant workers,” he said.

Many migrant workers and their families “live in highly precarious conditions, prey to various forms of slavery and with no system of welfare to protect them,” the Pope said. “Currently only one-third of the world’s population of working age enjoys a system of social protection, or benefit from it only in limited ways.”

The only answer to this and other challenges “is an expansion of dignified employment opportunities” and decent working conditions for jobs that support the common good and safeguard creation, the Pope said.

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