As the Church marks 60 years since Pope St. John XXIII published his encyclical Pacem in Terris, Pope Francis is calling on Christians to pray for a non-violent culture.
The Pope released a video accompanying his prayer intention for April 2023, produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.
He recalled that “war is madness” which is “beyond reason”.
“Any war, any armed confrontation, always ends in defeat for all,” he recalled.
Culture of non-violence
Pope Francis contrasted a conflictual mentality with one based on non-violence.
“Living, speaking, and acting without violence is not surrendering, losing, or giving up anything, but aspiring to everything,” he said.
Everyone added the Pope, is called to “develop a culture of peace.”
Non-violence, he said, can offer a guide for our actions, “both in daily life and in international relations.”
“Let us remember that, even in cases of self-defense, peace is the ultimate goal, and that a lasting peace can exist only without weapons,” he said.
Pope Francis wrapped up his intention video with the heart of his prayer appeal.
“And let us pray for a more widespread culture of non-violence,” he said, “which will progress when countries and citizens alike resort less and less to the use of arms.”
Peace in our hearts
A press release accompanying the video recalled the many people who have promoted the cause of peace and non-violence, including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and St. Teresa of Calcutta.
Besides Pope Francis speaking, the video features scenes of destruction from various wars currently marring the world, along with black-and-white portraits of advocates of peace.
In his Pacem in Terris, John XXIII lamented the extremely negative effects of violence, which “sows no seeds but those of hatred and violence.”
Fr. Frédéric Fornos SJ, International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said peace among peoples begins “in the most concrete and intimate part of our hearts”, just as war and conflict have their roots there.
“The Gospel shows us that the life of Jesus reveals the true way of peace and invites us to follow Him, said Fr. Fornos. “It is in this spirit that we are called to ‘disarm’ ourselves, in the sense of ‘disarming’ our words, our actions, our hatred.”