Catholic Church is for genuine world peace

Peace means much more than not being at war. At the heart of the Christian message is the belief that the life and death of Jesus gives people peace with God and peace within themselves.

Catholic Church is for genuine world peace

By Fr. Jose Thayil, SJ

We live in a world of conflict, between governments and the peace movements, between trade unions and employees, between feminists and male-dominated institutions. In India, attempts are being made to divide the nation in the lines of religion, language and caste. Those who are trying to stand for justice, equality and human rights are systematically harassed and silenced. The arrest of 83 year old Jesuit Priest, Stan Swamy, who is suffering from various illnesses, is a clear violation of human rights by the powers that be. For decades he has been working among the tribals in Jharkhand for their upliftment and liberation from false cases. He is accused of funding the Maoists. In fact he is trying to get some of the tribals released from the jail who are falsely accused of being Maoists.

The history of the Jewish people in the Bible is very much a history of conflict with the pagan nations. These conflicts and confrontations are not merely encouraged by God, but He actually commands the people again and again to oppose the tyranny and injustice and immorality of those nations. One of the greatest sins of the Jewish nation was its attempt to compromise with the pagan nations who oppress them.

One of the greatest values that Jesus imparted to his disciples was his peace. The peace that Jesus came to offer must be understood in the context of his saying that he came to bring also division: "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three” (Lk 12:51-52).

Jesus made a distinction between the peace that God wants and the peace that the world wants (Jn 14:27). The peace that God wants is a genuine peace that is based on truth, justice and love. The peace that the world offers is a superficial peace and unity that compromises the truth that covers over the injustice and that is usually settled on for thoroughly selfish purposes. Jesus destroys this false peace and even highlights the conflicts in order to promote a true and lasting peace.

Peace means much more than not being at war. At the heart of the Christian message is the belief that the life and death of Jesus gives people peace with God and peace within themselves. Peace is only possible in a humane and just society as Gaudium et Spes in No. 78 clearly mentions, “Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice. Peace results from that order structured into human society by its divine Founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice.”

Today, especially due to the pandemic, the whole world is facing anxiety and uncertainty due to unemployment that destroys peace. Pope Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, to deal with the problem of unemployment that resulted from rapid industrialization. He writes that unemployment "causes misery and temptation to the labourer, ruins the prosperity of nations, and endangers public order, peace, and tranquility the world over" (RN74). In India huge income disparity leads to unrest, poverty and misery.

Church can act as an agent to promote peace wherever there are tensions and conflicts. Pope Francis has repeatedly urged warring nations to give up their enmity and maintain peace. In his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he insists that peace is connected to truth, justice and mercy.

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