There are so many stories I wanted to post today but I want to focus on what we most need in our world – what people around the world are seeking every day they draw breath – and that peace. And Pope Francis today gave us a tool in the search for peace – his 2016 World Day of Peace Message. That day is celebrated every year on January 1.
Below is a summary of the papal message and a link to the complete, 4,500-word document.
Before I bring you the peace message, I want to tell you about St. Peter’s Square. I was crossing the square last night about 5:30, the first time I had been there since the inauguration of the Holy Year. The route that pilgrims follow from Castel Sant’Angelo to and through the square and then the Holy Door of St. Peter’s (after having reserved a day and time online or at Via della Conciliazione, 7), is clearly marked by a metal, fence-like structure. Along the route there are Jubilee volunteers who wear yellow vests.
When coming home from the north side of the square, I generally go through the right hand colonnade and cross the square in an area where chairs are often set up for general audiences. However, I observed three things yesterday.
- You can’t access the square through the right hand colonnade – this is where the security machines are for pilgrims going to the Holy Door. This arrangement will surely last the entire Holy Year. Access to St. Peter’s Square is through the left hand colonnade or through only one opening on the Pius XII side of the square.
- There were few pilgrims last night at that hour who wanted to go through the Holy Door, so volunteers let people enter the area to start the security check without reservations. (If you are in Rome now, this might work as the crowds are not great at that hour)
- The north side of Pius XII Square – Pza. Pio XII – is where taxis have parked for years – a very handy site for people leaving their offices, tourists who need a taxi, etc. A policeman told me the taxi stand is now at the far end of Via della Conciliazione, near Castel Sant’Angelo.
Another piece of news that I will look at more in depth tomorrow. The Vatican warned us about them and, sure enough, they have come in droves to the Jubilee – counterfeiters! The Italian equivalent of treasury police have closed down vendors and are prosecuting store owners who are selling fake Jubilee rosaries, papal images, Holy Door copies and other religious items, especially papal blessings. As of January 2015 ONLY the Vatican’s Apostolic Almoner can make and sell papal blessings. They are not legally available outside Vatican City. More tomorrow about this story, the official Jubilee emblem, etc. (photo. Guardia di Finanza)
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued his message for the World Day of Peace January 1, 2016. The theme of the Message is: “Overcome indifference and win peace.”
In the message, dated December 8, 2015, the Pope acknowledged the various forms of war, terrorism, and persecution present in today’s world, but said there is reason to hope. He cited several events over the course of the year 2015, including the various initiatives confronting climate change, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and the Jubilee of Mercy. (photo: Franciscan.org)
Referencing the theme of the message, the Holy Father then highlighted various forms of indifference in society. First, there is indifference to God, which in turn leads to indifference to one’s neighbor and subsequently to the environment.
Pope Francis also addressed what he referred to as an “indifference to mercy,” as seen with the Genesis account of Cain murdering his brother Abel. In contrast, God intervenes, the message reads: “He sees, hears, comes down, and delivers. God does not remain indifferent. He is attentive and He acts.”
“Mercy is the heart of God,” the Pope writes, and therefore must be the heart of all His children.
Pope Francis said we are called to “compassion, love, mercy and solidarity” in our relationships with one another. He added that “the conversion of our hearts” is needed for us to become “open to others in authentic solidarity.” The Pope called for the building of a culture of solidarity and mercy in order to overcome indifference.
This begins with families, which are the “first place where the values of love, fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out and handed on.” He spoke also of the role of teachers, and communicators. The Pope added that communicators in particular should be “mindful” of how they obtain and disseminate information, saying their methods should always be “legally and morally admissible.”
Pope Francis went on to say that peace is the fruit of a culture of solidarity, mercy, and compassion.
It is also a sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, which began December 8, in which all are called to recognize indifference, and “improve the world around us.”
The Holy Father said these efforts begin with our families, neighbors, and places of employment. They extend to civil society’s care for vulnerable persons, such as “prisoners, migrants, the unemployed, and the infirm.”
On the subject of migrants, the Pope asked that legislation on migration be reviewed, in a way that facilitates their integration into society, with special attention given to legal residency in order to avoid criminal behavior.
Pope Francis appealed to national leaders to offer assistance to men and women suffering from lack of work, land, and lodging.
He concluded by entrusting the reflections contained in the message to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Vatican Radio)
CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE MESSAGE: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20151208_messaggio-xlix-giornata-mondiale-pace-2016.html