Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion

Pope Francis lights a candle at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan (Vatican Media)

“Hope” is again at the heart of Pope Francis latest World Day of Peace message, which opens with the statement: “Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family”.

Hope, writes the Pope, is “the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable”.

Pope Francis acknowledges how “the terrible trials of internal and international conflicts, often aggravated by ruthless acts of violence, have an enduring effect on the body and soul of humanity”. “Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace”.

Reconciliation

On the other hand, writes Pope Francis, “Peace emerges from the depths of the human heart and political will must always be renewed, so that new ways can be found to reconcile and unite individuals and communities”. That journey of reconciliation “calls for patience and trust”, says the Pope. “Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for”.

The world does not need empty words, continues Pope Francis, “but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation”. Peace is a process that requires enduring commitment, he adds. “It is a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honor the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance”.

Finally, Pope Francis refers to the recent Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region. “Faced with the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources, we are in need of an ecological conversion”, he writes, one that will “lead us to a new way of looking at life”.

The Pope concludes with a renewed call “for a peaceful relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, between experience…and hope”.