“Peace-building is a slow, patient process, requiring the courage and practical commitment of all people of good will who care about the present and the future of humanity and the planet.” This is Pope Francis’ message to the 6th Paris Peace Forum.
The Forum gathers government representatives, international organizations, and civil society groups. The papal message, signed by teh Pope’s Secretary of State, was read to the Forum participants by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to France.
“Lasting peace is built day by day, through the recognition, respect and promotion of the dignity of the human person and his or her fundamental rights,” the message said. In particular among these rights is the “human right to peace, which is a condition for the exercise of all other human rights.”
From 1948 to today
The Holy Father’s message noted that “the persistent gap between the solemn commitments made on 10 December 10, 1948, and reality has yet to be bridged.” This year marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
How many people, including children, are deprived of the fundamental and primary right to life and to physical and mental integrity as a result of hostilities between different groups or different countries?
How many people are deprived of the most basic rights as a result of conflicts, such as the right to drinking water and healthy food, but also the right to freedom of religion, health, decent housing, a quality education and dignified work?
How many children are forced to take part, directly or indirectly, in fighting, and bear the physical, psychological and spiritual scars for the rest of their lives?
Voices in both Israel and Ukraine have criticized the Pope’s reaction to the wars on their territories, saying that he fails to sufficiently denounce the aggressors. But this message reiterated the line he has consistently taken.
While reaffirming the inalienable right to self-defence and the responsibility to protect those whose lives are threatened, we must acknowledge that war is always a “defeat of humanity” (General Audience, 23 March 2022).
No war is worth the tears of a mother who has seen her child mutilated or killed; no war is worth the loss of the life of even one human being, a sacred being created in the image and likeness of the Creator; no war is worth the poisoning of our common home; and no war is worth the despair of those who are forced to leave their homeland and are deprived, from one moment to the next, of their home and all the family, friendship, social and cultural ties that have been built up, sometimes over generations.
Rethink the arms trade
As he generally does when speaking of war, the Pope called for an end to the arms trade, saying that peace is built with “patient listening, dialogue and cooperation,” not weapons.
The Holy Father wishes to reiterate the Holy See’s unceasing call for arms to be silenced, for the production and trade of these instruments of death and destruction to be rethought, and for the path of gradual but complete disarmament to be resolutely pursued, so that the reasons for peace can finally be heard loud and clear!