Message of Benoit XVI for the celebration of the world day of peace (2008)



1 JANUARY 2008 


1. At the start of a new year, I want to send my fervent good wishes for peace and a warm message of hope to men and women around the world. I am proposing to the common reflection the theme which I opened the message and that is particularly close to heart: human family, a community of peace. Indeed, the first form of communion between people is what creates love between a man and a woman determined to unite in a stable way to build a new family. But the peoples of Earth are also required to establish between them relations of solidarity and collaboration, as it is for members of the one human family: "All people - said the Second Vatican Council - together form a single community have a single origin, since God made all living human kind on the entire surface of the earth (cf. Acts 17, 26), and one last end, which is God. "(1) 

Family, society and peace 

2. The natural family, as a communion of life and love, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, (2) is "the place of first'humanisation of the person and society" ( 3) the "cradle of life and love." (4) Also, is this reason that the family is described as first natural society, "a divine institution that is the foundation of life, as the prototype of all social order. "(5) 

3. In a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental components of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving service to the members lower because small, sick or elderly, mutual aid to the necessities of life, readiness to welcome others and, if necessary, to forgive. Therefore, the family is the first and irreplaceable educator of peace. It is therefore not surprising that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Therefore, when one says that the family is "the first and vital cell of society" (6) it says something essential. The family is also a foundation of society for the following reason: because it allows you to experience peace decisive. It follows that the human community can not ignore the service that the family meets. Where does the human being in training could learn to enjoy the "taste" authentic peace better than in the "nest" that the original nature prepares him? The lexicon is a lexicon family peace, but there it is always necessary to draw to not lose the use of the vocabulary of peace. In the inflation of languages, the company can not lose the reference to that "grammar" that every child learns gestures and glances of his mother and his father, even before learning of their words. 

4. Since it has a duty to educate its members, the family holds specific rights.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself, which constitutes a legal civilization of truly universal value, states that "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and of the state. "(7) For its part, the Holy See wanted to recognize a special legal dignity to the family by publishing the Charter of rights of the family. The Preamble states: "The rights of the person, though they are expressed as individual rights, have a fundamental social dimension which finds the family in innate and vital expression." (8) The rights contained in the Charter are an expression and explanation of natural law written on the heart of humans and shown to him by reason. The denial or restriction of rights of the family, obscuring the truth about man, threatens the foundations of peace themselves. 

5. Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, hampers the institution of the family makes the fragile peace in the entire community, national and international, because it weakens what, in fact, is the primary agency of peace. This is a point that deserves special consideration: everything that serves to weaken the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, which directly or indirectly inhibits its willingness to accept responsibility a new life , hindering their right to be primarily responsible for the education of children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the path of peace. The family needs housing, work and a fair recognition of the domestic activity of parents, school children, medical assistance for all. When society and politics do not undertake to assist the family in these areas, they deprive themselves of an essential resource for peace. In particular, the media, the educational opportunities available to them, have a special responsibility to promote respect for the family, to illustrate its expectations and rights, to highlight its beauty. 

. Humanity is a great family 

6. To live in peace, the social community is also known to be guided by the values underlying the family. This applies to local communities to national communities, and this applies more to the community of nations itself, for the human family who lives in the house that is the common ground. In this perspective, however, we can not forget that the family is born of the "yes" responsible and definitive of a man and a woman, and she saw the "yes" mindful of children who come gradually become part . To thrive, the family needs the generous agreement of all its members. It is necessary that this awareness becomes a belief shared by those who are called to form the common human family. You should know, his own "yes" to the vocation that God has inscribed in our nature itself. We do not live next to each other by chance, we all travel the same path as men and thus as brothers and sisters. It is therefore essential that everyone agrees to live his own life in an attitude of responsibility before God, acknowledging him as the source of its own existence as that of others. It is up to this supreme principle can be seen that the unconditional value of every human being, and that can be posed conditions for building a humanity at peace.Without this transcendent foundation, society is only a conglomeration of neighbors, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form a large family. 

Family, human community and environment 

7. The family needs a house, an environment where its position can forge relationships between its members. Regarding the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us so that we lived in a creative and responsible. We must take care of the environment: it was given to man to the care and protection in a responsible freedom, having always in view as a criterion of assessment, the good of all. The man obviously has a primacy of value over all creation. Respecting the environment does not mean that we consider the physical or animal nature more important than man. That is to say that the individual can be considered so selfish as to the disposal of its own interests, because future generations also have the right to benefit from creating, implementing, in so doing, the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. It should not be that poor people are left who, in many cases are excluded from the universal destination of the goods of creation. Today, humanity is concerned for the future of the ecological balance. In this regard, it is appropriate that the assessments are conducted with prudence, in a dialogue between experts and wise, without ideological precipitation to hasty conclusions, and above all seeking together a model of sustainable development that ensures the well-being of all in respect ecological balance. If environmental protection has costs, they must be distributed fairly, taking into account the differences in development of various countries and for solidarity with future generations.Caution does not mean not to take its responsibilities and postponing decisions; say it wants to engage all these decisions, not without having previously discussed, responsibly, the way forward, in order to strengthen the alliance between humans and the environment, which must mirror the creative love of God, which we have and where we go. 

8. It is fundamental in this regard to "believe" the earth as "our common home" and to be of service to all, to choose when it comes to managing for the path of dialogue rather than to that of unilateral choice. If necessary, we can increase the institutional places at the international level, to carry out in collaboration, the government of this house is ours, but it is important first to mature in their consciences convinced that we must work together responsibly. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and urgent. To face this situation effectively, it must act in a concerted manner. It is an area where it would be in particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is the management of energy resources of the planet. In this regard, the technologically advanced countries are facing a double emergency: we must, first, to review their habits exaggerated in consumption associated with the current model of development and, secondly, they provide for appropriate investment in order to diversify energy sources and improving its use. Emerging economies have large energy needs, but sometimes those needs are met at the expense of poor countries which, because of inadequate infrastructure on the same technological level, are forced to sell low-cost energy resources including they have. Sometimes, their political freedom itself is compromised by forms of protectorate or at least conditioning which appear clearly humiliating. 

Family, human community and economy 

9. An essential condition of peace in every family is that it builds on the solid foundation of spiritual values and ethical background. But we must also add that the family experiences authentic peace when each member is guaranteed to have the necessary and when the family patrimony - the fruit of the work of some, saving others, and the active collaboration of all - is well managed, in solidarity, without excess or waste. For there to be peace in the family, therefore, on the one hand, there is an openness to a transcendent patrimony of values and, secondly - and this is no less important -- There is also a good management of both material goods as relations between people. Neglecting these aspects was that mutual trust is compromised because of the uncertainties that threaten the future of the family. 

10. We can apply these ideas to the next big family of mankind as a whole.While she is now a larger unit because of globalization, the human family was also required, in addition to the foundation of common values, an economy that can truly meet the requirements of a common dimension. In this regard, the reference to the natural family is also particularly significant. We must promote fair and honest relationships between individuals and between peoples, so that, on a footing of equality and justice, all may be able to collaborate. At the same time, it is necessary that we make every effort to ensure a wise use of resources and equitable distribution of wealth. In particular, the aid given to poor countries must meet the criteria of sound economic logic, avoiding waste, which ultimately leads mainly to the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies. It should also not lose sight of the moral requirement, so that economic organization is not only the strict laws of immediate gain, which can prove inhumane. 

Family, human community and moral law 

11. A family lives in peace if those who compose it comply with a common standard: this helps to counteract the selfish individualism and create links between each of its members, fostering their harmonious coexistence and cooperation in a common goal. In itself obvious, this criterion applies to the wider communities: from local, national to the international community itself. For there to be peace there must be a common law, which allows the freedom to be truly itself, not a blind, arbitrary, and that protects the weaker of the abuse of power. In the family of peoples, there are many arbitrary behavior, either within states or in the mutual relations between States. There are also many situations where the weak are obliged not to bow to the demands of justice but only to the strength of one who has more money than him. Again: the force must always be disciplined by law and this must be true also in relations between sovereign states. 

12. In many occasions, the Church has ruled on the nature and function of the law: the legal standard, which regulates the relationship between individuals, disciplines external behavior and also provides sanctions for those who transgress these provisions, as a criterion the moral norm based on the nature of things. Human reason is also able to discern at least at the basic requirements, up to God's creative Reason, which is the origin of everything. The moral norm must regulate the choices of consciences and guide the behavior of all human beings.Are there any legal standards for relations between nations that make up the human family? And, if they exist, are they effective? The answer is yes, such norms exist, but to be truly effective it must go back to the natural moral norm, the basis of the legal standard, otherwise it remains subject to consensus fragile and ephemeral. 

13. Knowledge of the natural moral norm is not restricted to the man who falls in himself and who, facing his destiny, questioned the logic of the deepest aspirations that discerns in him. Not without confusion or uncertainty, it can happen to discover, at least in its essential lines, this common moral law which, beyond cultural differences, enables human beings to understand each other as regards the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. It is essential to return to the Basic Law and to devote to this research the best of our intellectual energy, not be deterred by the misleading or understood. Indeed, values rooted in natural law, even if only fragmentary and not always consistent, are found in international agreements, in forms of authority universally accepted in the principles of humanitarian law in the legislation received States or in the statutes of international organizations. Humanity is not "lawless". It is urgent to continue the dialogue on these issues, so that States reach their laws to a convergent recognition of fundamental human rights. The progress of the legal culture in the world depends, among other the commitment to make it more effective international standards with a profoundly human content, to avoid their procedures to reduce easy to circumvent for selfish reasons or ideological. 

Exceedance of conflict and disarmament 

14. Today, humanity is unfortunately large divisions and conflicts that are hard to shed its bleak future. Vast areas of the world are experiencing growing tensions and the danger that more and more countries become holders of nuclear weapons raises legitimate concerns in any responsible person. We are witnessing today in many civil wars in Africa, although there is, for a number of countries, progress in freedom and democracy. The Middle East remains the scene of conflicts and terrorist attacks that affect nations and neighboring regions, which may lead them into the spiral of violence. More broadly, we must note with regret that the number of States that are caught in the arms race is growing even in developing nations spend a substantial portion of their meager domestic product to buy weapons. The deadly trade develops with multiple responsibilities: there are countries in the industrialized world, which derive large profits from the sale of arms and are the dominant oligarchies in many poor countries, who want to strengthen their position in the purchase of sophisticated weapons. In hard times, it is really necessary to mobilize all people of goodwill to be found that concrete agreements for an effective demilitarization, especially in regard to nuclear weapons. While the process of nuclear non-proliferation is slowed down, I feel compelled to urge the authorities to resume with greater determination negotiations aimed at progressive and concerted dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I echo the wish formed by all those who have at heart the future of humanity. 

15. It is almost sixty years the United Nations solemnly made public the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948-2008). By this document the human family wanted to react to the horrors of the Second World War by acknowledging its unity based on the equal dignity of all men and putting in the center of human coexistence respect fundamental rights of every individual and all people: this was a decisive step on the difficult and demanding path towards harmony and peace. It is also worthwhile to mention the celebration of 25th anniversary of the adoption by the Holy See of the Charter of Rights of the Family (1983-2008) and the 40th anniversary of the celebration of the first World Day of Peace (1968-2008). Born of a providential intuition of Pope Paul VI, continued with great conviction by my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, the celebration of this day has helped the Church, over the years to develop, through the Posts on this occasion, luminous doctrine in favor of this fundamental human good. In light of this significant celebration, I invite all men and all women to take a clearer awareness of their belonging to one human family and to work for the friendly on earth is always more reflection of this conviction, which the establishment of a genuine and lasting peace. I also invite believers to implore God tirelessly to give the great gift of peace. As Christians, they know they can entrust to the intercession of her who is the Mother of the Son of God made flesh for the salvation of all humanity, is our Mother to all. 

To all, I offer my best wishes of happy new year! 

From the Vatican, 8 December 2007. 


(1) Conc. ecumenical. Vat. II, Decree Nostra Aetate, 1. 
(2) Cf. ecumenical. Vat. II, Const. past. Gaudium et Spes, n.48. 
(3) John Paul II, Exhort. Apostolic. Christifidelis Laici (30 December 1988), n. 40: AAS 81 (1989), 469: AAS 86 (1989), p.176. 
(4) Ibid. 
(5) the bridge. Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.211. 
(6) Cf. ecumenical. Vat. Stipend, Glorieux, n.11. 
(7) Art. 16 / 3. 
(8) the bridge. for the Family, Charter of Rights of the Family (24 November 1983), Preamble, A.: La Documentation Catholique, 80 (1983), p.1154.