Peace, Peace Spirituality

Reflections on Pope Francis’s 2019 World Day of Peace message

by Tony Magliano

As the saying goes, “Politics and religion don’t mix.” Although this cliché is espoused by many, you will not hear it from Pope Francis.

On the contrary, the leader of the Catholic Church firmly teaches that our Gospel-based faith has a wealth of wisdom to offer the often corrupt world of politics. And that it is our duty to strive to infuse that wisdom into the body politic.

As exhibit “A,” consider the Holy Father’s Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message – appropriately titled “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

Peace “is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence,” the pope writes. “Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.”

This is so true. As one of many sad examples, consider how often political officials allow and even authorize the oppression of minority groups like the Rohingya in Myanmar, and now in Bangladesh (see: https://bbc.in/2KPgZ7Q, https://bit.ly/2RPcE4a).

And consider that many political leaders in governments throughout the world, including democracies, largely ignore the marginalized poor – in effect exiling them to the fringes of society, and even leaving millions of them to die every year (see: https://borgenproject.org/15-world-hunger-statistics/).

Among the “political vices” the pope cites are “xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.” All of which bring to mind recent dire environmental warnings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see: https://on.natgeo.com/2C4uv2j), the National Climate Assessment (see: https://bit.ly/2DFvfvO), and the often cold-hearted political response to suffering migrants (see: https://bbc.in/2yZnCMD).

Here the pontiff’s words are equally strong, “Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background.”

Pope Francis then challenges the immoral tragedy of war and fear. He says, “Peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear.” And adds that the proliferation of arms is “contrary to morality and the search for true peace” (see: https://bit.ly/2BqRelc).

And he condemns “forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need.”

In the world – political and otherwise – where self-centered egos often dominate, Pope Francis calls our attention to the humble corrective teaching of Jesus: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Francis then challengingly calls us to be creative peacemakers: “Today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and happiness of the human family.”

And to that Pope Francis encouragingly adds, “Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.” With open hearts and minds to God, let each of us ask ourself: What is my stone? And how can I best use it to build our common home?

And then consider a New Year’s resolution worth keeping:  Read “Good politics is at the service of peace” and prayerfully strive to put it into practice (see: https://bit.ly/2CmIobS).

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/vu-my/wp-content/uploads/sites/1213/2017/08/27171804/image-course.jpg
Peace, Refugee Stories

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message

by Tony Magliano

On behalf of the world’s often unwanted refugees and migrants, Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message titled “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace” pleads: “In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.”

But instead of experiencing an embrace of warm welcome, millions of migrants and refugees are confronted with “fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal,” of finally finding a safe and secure place to call home, says Francis.

Several European nations continue to build fences and walls to keep out refugees fleeing armed conflicts and dire poverty in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria.

And along the U.S.-Mexico border, a nearly 700-mile barrier exists to keep out thousands of scared, poor Central Americans and Mexicans from entering the U.S. And if the Trump administration gets it way, the existing barrier will be extended even further.

For the vast majority of these migrants and refugees, the only “crime” they have committed is seeking a working way out of poverty and a safe haven from drug-induced gang violence — fed largely by America’s drug addiction epidemic and U.S. gun exports — in their home countries.

In his 2018 World Day of Peace message, the Holy Father is critical of the stance taken by many wealthier countries that spread harmful rhetoric claiming refugees and migrants pose risks to national security or are too costly to welcome. He challenges this thinking as demeaning to “the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God.” Furthermore, it’s overwhelmingly not true…

Click here to read the entire column.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/commongrace/pages/1029/attachments/original/1495517521/reconciliation-feature-fade.jpg?1495517521
Advent, Peace Spirituality

The Evolving Incarnation

by James Hug, S.J.

“Be Watchful!  Be Alert!  You do not know when the time will come!”  [Mk. 13:33]

This opening line from the gospel for the 1st Sunday of Advent seems in no way unusual. We hear a similar message each year at this time. But this year it may be providing the context for a new sense of the season—and an invitation to take part in the incarnation of God’s Spirit in a world so terribly in need of it.

In early October, Fr. Bruno Cadoré, Master General of the Dominican Order, wrote to the members of the Dominican family—priests and brothers, nuns and sisters, lay associates—with a special request. Following upon last year’s 800th Jubilee of the Order, he asked all members of the Dominican family to join in a new, annual work of solidarity for peace. He proposed that, during the period from the 1st Sunday of Advent to January 1st, the Church’s World Day of Peace each year, the Dominican family pray in solidarity for peace and together offer solidarity for a particular project for peace.

He identified that focus of solidarity for 2017 as Colombia, where Dominican brothers and sisters have long been working for peace. Just a year ago, November 30, 2016, a peace treaty between the major combatants was signed in what was effectively a civil war of over 50 years. Rebuilding the nation and the peace after so much trauma and destruction is deeply challenging and is at an early and fragile stage…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

____________

* Artwork by Jasmin Roberts, https://www.facebook.com/MyTimeForDreaming/
Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

Why Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace message is such a breakthrough

by Terrence Rynne

The following essay was written by Dr. Terrence Rynne, who was one of the attendees of the April 2016 Nonviolence & Just Peace conference in Rome.

That Pope Francis consciously chose “nonviolence” as the theme of his message to the world on New Year ’s Day 2017, is in itself a powerful fact. The pope unabashedly pointed out that “nonviolence” is what Jesus taught and modeled and said, “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” The pope is signaling a true return to the sources for the Catholic Church: Sacred Scripture and the traditions of the early Church. Just as the return to the sources (ressourcement) by theologians such as Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar and Karl Rahner fueled the renaissance of Catholic theology and the magnificent documents of the Second Vatican Council so also today the pope is returning in a fresh way to the sources.

First, he is reading the Gospels attentively and finds his inspiration there. He says for example: “Jesus himself lived in violent times…But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek. When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword, Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross.” Pope Francis is not using natural law theory as the basis of the Church’s teaching on war and violence, he is going straight to the Gospels.

Second, he reflects on the lived tradition of the early Church and how they confronted persecution with courageous nonviolence and how they stunned the world, prompting massive conversions to Christianity.

The third source of inspiration for Pope Francis is the living witness of believing, nonviolent Christians across the world. He says: “Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about ‘by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice.’”…

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Terrence J. Rynne is the author of Jesus Christ, Peacemaker, and founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.

Nonviolence, Peace

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message

by Tony Magliano

pope-francis-and-dove“May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.” This statement written by Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message – the 50th annual papal peace message to the world – extols nonviolence as an essential and nonnegotiable key to true and lasting peace.

In his peace message titled “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace,” the Holy Father says, “When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking.

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

Throughout this extremely challenging New Year’s peace message, Pope Francis boldly raises the moral bar, calling each of us, and each nation, to heed the clear nonviolent way of Jesus: “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).

Most unfortunately, in contrast to Jesus’ nonviolent message over 50 countries are involved in armed conflicts (see: http://bit.ly/2irdlju), Pope Francis accurately laments: “Today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal.”

The Holy Father powerfully declares: “Violence is not the cure for our broken world.”

Francis points out that meeting violence with violence produces tremendous suffering, not only in death and destruction, but by diverting necessary resources for human life to military ends.

And judging from recent dangerous comments of President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the world could get far more violent.

Responding to Putin’s recent comment about strengthening Russia’s nuclear weapons capabilities in 2017, Trump – a day after meeting with Pentagon and defense contractors – called on the U.S. to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” until the rest of the world “comes to its senses” regarding nuclear weapons (see CBC News http://bit.ly/2irt2Ha).

With hundreds of nuclear weapons currently aimed at each other on hair-trigger alert, it’s Putin and Trump (as well as Obama) who need to come to their senses.

For a nonviolent, reasonable way to reverse this violently dangerous course,  visit Global Zero (http://www.globalzero.org/no-first-use) to learn the facts and what you can do to help rid the world of these most monstrous weapons.

Pope Francis writes, “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” Francis reminds us that Jesus’ teaching of God’s unconditional love calls us to turn the other cheek, love our enemies and faithfully live the Sermon on the Mount.

Francis counters the frequent mistaken criticism that “Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case,” he says. He cites famous effective nonviolent examples like Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and “Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.”

And currently international groups like the “Nonviolent Peaceforce” (see: www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org) are courageously, nonviolently and effectively helping to reduce and even stop violent conflict.

Please carefully reflect on Pope Francis’ “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace (go to http://bit.ly/2hj78oP). A prayerful reading of this short, powerful papal teaching,  will deepen your resolve to be a true peacemaker – in the nonviolent footsteps of the Prince of Peace.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.