Last week’s reflection ended with asking us to consider “encounter” in our lives with the twofold recognition that it is not something easy and yet, it is essential. The topic carries over into Chapter 7 of this letter of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti.
If you have not done so, download the encyclical, then when you have a moment here or there, you will have it handy. www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html.
Chapter 7: Paths of Renewed Encounter
“Those who work for tranquil social coexistence should never forget that inequality and lack of integral human development make peace impossible” (235).
Pope Francis calls for peacemakers to forge new paths of healing and “renewed encounter” in our fractured world. He begins by explaining that building peace requires “starting anew from the truth,” or facing the reality of the harm done.
The Holy Father writes that, in the difficult work of building a peaceful society, “[there] is an ‘architecture’ of peace, to which different institutions of society contribute, each according to its own area of expertise, but there is also an ‘art’ of peace that involves us all,” including ordinary people and especially the most vulnerable (231).
Pope Francis describes the importance of reconciliation and its relationship to forgiveness, explaining that while forgiveness is central to Christianity, it does not mean forgetting harm done and it cannot be required of victims. Memory is important; we cannot forget tragedies such as the Holocaust or the atomic bombings in Japan, lest we repeat these catastrophic mistakes.
Finally, Pope Francis develops the Church’s teaching on the irrationality of the “false answers” of the death penalty and war, including the use or threat of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In the modern world “[we] can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits… it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a ‘just war (258).’”
Likewise, he says the use of the death penalty makes no sense in a world where it is possible to keep society safe without it. Pope Francis clearly states the Church’s opposition to the use of the death penalty.
How can you be involved in the “art” of building peace in your community or society?