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Join the effort for peace and family


Timothy A. Clary | AFP Photo

Pope John Paul II recites the rosary in St. Patrick's Cathedral 07 October in New York with John Cardinal O'Connor behind him(R). Some 250,000 people gathered to celebrate Mass with the Pope earlier in the day on the Great Lawn in Central Park.

Tom Hoopes - published on 09/26/22 - updated on 09/27/22

St. John Paul II gave everyone a way to join in.

St. John Paul II called for a Year of the Rosary 20 years ago for two urgent reasons: to pray for peace in the face of terrorism and for the family, which was “increasingly menaced so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole.”

Peace and the family are the two most pressing concerns worldwide today, and they are closely related.

“I’m standing in front of you today as the President of Hungary, the first woman president of my country, a wife, and mother of three children,” Katalin Novák said last week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

She urgently called for peace, on the same day that Helen Alvaré, Yuval Levin, and others spelled out a pro-family agenda for the United States in Washington, D.C.

War has no victors, she said.

I don’t normally follow Hungarian politicians, but Novák — who is the head of state alongside her country’s Prime Minister — is visiting Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, today. She initiated the visit, because she wants to talk to female students of faith to encourage them to go into politics to promote pro-family policies.

To be pro-family is to be anti-war. There are 27 ongoing conflicts in the world, Novák told the United Nations assembly, citing the Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker. “Right now, there’s not a single conflict described as ‘improving,’” she said. They are all marked “unchanging” or “worsening.” 

She invoked historical lessons that Europeans learned the hard way but that Americans have been largely spared, saying, “What do not want from the U.N.? To win the war? We should not stand for winning any war. We need to stand for restoring the peace. If there is a will, there is a way.”

The family is under attack in war and in peace.

In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Novák described Hungary’s work serving 1 million refugee families who will never be the same.

“War is evil and leads nowhere,” she said. “A war only has victims and the ones with the greatest losses are families — mothers and fathers who lose their children in the battlefield, wives who lose their husbands in the fighting, children who lose their brothers and sisters in the hell of war.” 

Novak was elected president of Hungary in March, and made international headlines by reaffirming her commitment to faith and family.

“I will not take the cross from my neck, but I will press it to my heart,” she said. She promised “to be a good head of state who defends the family as the basis of sovereignty.”

Times of peace call for urgent family policies, too.

The day Novák spoke at the United Nations, Yuval Levin was visiting Benedictine College’s campus and shared with us the “Pro-Family Policy Agenda” he had compiled along with Helen Alvaré and others at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. Saying “families are the foundation of a healthy society,” the 11-point program calls for action to:

Strengthen married couples by eliminating tax policies that favor cohabitation, and addressing the need for men and boys to be taught to be husbands and fathers.

Protect unborn children in law and health care policy — and by giving their parents the paid leave they need to care for them. 

Empower parents by respecting their rights to raise their children according to their own beliefs, and finding economic ways to allow one parent to stay home or work parttime, and addressing increases in the cost of raising children.

St. John Paul II gave everyone a way to join in the work of promoting peace and the family.

Calling the rosary “an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society,” he said:

“I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: confidently take up the Rosary once again. … May this appeal of mine not go unheard!”

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