MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS: Good politics is at the service of peace

1 JANUARY 2019

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.[1]The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated.[2] It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”.[3]

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”.[4] This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the politician who is without fear.[5]

Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.

4. Political vices

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.

5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others

When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”.[6]

Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

6. No to war and to the strategy of fear

A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.

Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.[7]

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;
– peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;
– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, 8 December 2018


[1] Cf. Lk 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”.
[2] Cf. Le Porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, Paris, 1986.
[3] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (14 May 1971), 46.
[4] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 7.
[5] Cf. Address at the “Civitas” Exhibition-Convention in Padua: “30 Giorni”, no. 5, 2002.
[6] BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Authorities of Benin, Cotonou, 19 November 2011.
[7] Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963), ed. Carlen, 24.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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WEND BE NE DO, Burkina Faso: December 2018 report

Report of the follow-up visit to the WEND BE NE DO (WBND) project in Burkina Faso, of the partners Carlos LLANO, Alberto HERNANDIS, Andrés Pedro MUÑOZ and Aurelio SANZ, of the Foundation Tienda Asilo de San Pedro of Cartagena (FTASP), Spain, in December 2018.

WBND already has a thirteen-year trajectory in Burkina Faso, being a benchmark as a project of care for the people affected by HIV-AIDS in this African zone stricken by poverty, corruption, and insecurity… 271 adults and 341 children, adolescents and young people are our concern as more than sixty volunteers in Spain, seven in Burkina Faso and the local team formed by five people. “To be with”, to accompany, to put ourselves in their skin, not to remain insensitive to the suffering of others, to partake in their joy: that is WBND.

Fraternity of Pakistan: National Asssembly 2018

November 12-16, 2018

Theme: Blessed Charles de Foucald and Eucharist

The National Get together of the Pakistan Fraternity of Jesus Caritas met in Pastoral Centre, Chak 7, Faisalabad from November 12 to 16, 2018. 15 members were present from Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad and Faisalabad Fraternities. There were a few more members who wanted to come but were unable to be present. The theme was Blessed Charles de Foucald the Eucharist. The printed prayers in English and Urdu and the banner (flex) with the theme and the Eucharist in the setting of the Faisalabad Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with the Clock Tower of Faisalabad and the Minar-E-Pakistan of Lahore at the sides clearly displayed that the Faisalabad Fraternity had prepared well for the National event. Fr. Saleh Diego National Responsible welcomed all on November 12, 2018, after dinner.

Speaking in Faisalabad on November 13, 2018, Fr Emmanuel Asi the International Councilor explained the various dimensions of the Spirituality of Jesus Caritas. What are the important elements of Jesus Caritas. What type of atmosphere is needed, and how to create that atmosphere and live.

Explaining the Review of Life methodology he said that in this process each one present should get an opportunity to speak. It should be participatory and nobody should be judged in this process. The atmosphere should be joyful and spiritual. The meeting begins with a prayer and there must be enough silence and all reflections must be from the perspective of the Gospels. All this is possible with an atmosphere of faith and prayer.

There were two groups that tried this process one was the Lahore Fraternity with the addition of a member from Karachi and the other the Faisalabad Fraternity with the addition of a member from Rawalpindi/Islamabad Fraternity.

The time spent before the Holy Eucharist was the highlight of the National Week of Prayer. It was a time of silence and reflection.

Fr Bonnie Mendes speaking on November 14, 2018, on Blessed Charles de Foucald and the Eucharist recalled the two visits of Pere Rene Voillaum Little Brothers of Jesus Councilor to St Pius X Seminary, Quetta in the 1950s. He said he encouraged the seminarians at that time to visit the Little Brothers in their mud house behind the Central Jail in a poor area. The Seminarians spent time there in solitude and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That experiential knowledge of a friend of Blessed Charles de Foucald gave great help to know how he spent time in solitude in Algeria and in contemplative prayer. Fr Bonnie recalled that he offered Mass in the Byzantine rite in Quetta for the seminarians to experience their liturgy.

Each Fraternity present shared the activities of their Fraternity and the problems they were facing in getting new members and retaining the interest of the old members. Every Fraternity seemed to have its ups and downs with a struggle to meet regularly and keep the Fraternity alive. The Pakistani participation in the Asian Assemblies was discussed especially how to make it more effective and to prepare people better before going for such Assemblies. It seemed in general Pakistan was weak in preparing its members going abroad for International events.

The desert experience or time in solitary prayer was experienced by each on November 14, 2018, afternoon.

Fr. Emmanuel Asi explained that the Month of Nazareth could be shortened depending on various circumstances, though the name remains Month of Nazareth.

Mrs Alishba Javed and Ms Nargis Hira from the Sadhuke (Lahore Lay Fraternity) and Multan Lay Fraternity respectively came to share their experiences not only of the International Assembly in Lebanon meeting but also how their groups are doing in Multan and Lahore. Karachi Lay Fraternity had gone slow after being active for many years. The members at the Assembly were happy to see two young lay people from Pakistan. Most of the others were senior citizens.

All priests expressed their desire and determination to strengthen the Lay Fraternity in their areas. The new book, “Strength of the Laity” (Momineen KI Akhuwat) in Urdu was launched at the Assembly, by Fr. Saleh Diego and Fr Bonnie Mendes. It was priced at Rs 230/- 65 copies got sale immediately.

Fr. Saleh Diego dwelt on the life of Blessed Charles Eugene de Focauld, he said the details  of his life given by Fr. Asi is a great help. Fr. Saleh gave the quote loving people we love God. Charles said, “I want all the people here, be they Christian, Muslim, Jew or whatever,  to see me as their brother, a universal brother. They have started calling my house the ‘fraternity’ and that gives me pleasure.” To give another quote, “I want to be so good that people will say ‘If this is what the servant is like, what the Master  must be like?” Fr. Saleh said, He was a true Christian, he reflects Jesus in his life.

All were informed that October 2019 there will be the Asian Fraternity in South Korea. Next year in different Fraternities Pakistani members will reflect on the life of Blessed Charles de Focauld. Themes from the life of Blessed Charles will be given to each Fraternity in the country.

Fr. Inayat gave a quotation from the late Cardinal Cordeiro, prepare for Mass as if this is your first Mass, offer it as if it is your last Mass, reflect on it as if it is your only Mass. Besides preparation, he stressed celebration, proclamation and giving witness.

Fr. Bonnie preaching at the final Mass on Friday, November 16, 2019, emphasized love as stressed by The letters of St John. He asked the priests to be patient with the young priests and guide. He requested the senior priests to remember that times have changed and with it values. Try to sympathize and empathize with others.

The help given by Fr. Shafique Hidayat to Jesus Caritas was greatly appreciated.

Next November 4 to 7, 2019, the National Assembly will be in the Pastoral Centre, Rawalpindi. That Fraternity will play host. The theme will be decided later.

Fr. Bonnie Mendes

November 16, 2018.