What happens when we consult our hopes for peace?
I was starting school when Pope John XXIII gave the world the gift of his landmark teaching, Peace on Earth. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the encyclical he addressed not only to the Church, but also to all people of goodwill.
Issued Holy Thursday, April 11, 1963, it came shortly before Pope John's death and six months after he presided over the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Peace on Earth focuses on human rights and responsibilities, as well as the role of nations and the international community in ensuring social justice and embracing disarmament.
Generously, many Catholics respond to calls for charitable giving and service. Perhaps less often, we heed equally urgent calls for critical social awareness and advocacy in areas of human rights, peace and environmental well-being.
Might the recent selection of Pope Francis - and the 50th anniversary of Peace on Earth - bring greater awareness of the fullness of our Catholic heritage, embracing both personal and social dimensions of life?
My early hopes and small efforts for peace were rooted in faith and nurtured by many remarkable mentors. Bolstered by the end of the Cold War, they were also buffeted by the ongoing violence of global inequalities, terrorism, counterterrorism and environmental degradation.
Today, new hope arises from persons and networks representing diverse generations, cultures and backgrounds committed to peace as the fruit of justice. Joyfully, I celebrate Pope John's courageous and enduring vision.