An overview of Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, 2012, has been revealed by the Vatican, and features a call for educators to guide young people on the issues of justice and peace.
The message targets parents, teachers, politicians, and all those in positions of authority that have the power to influence young minds and pave the way to a brighter future.
The message emphasizes that education is a right for all human beings and a duty for every society to provide. The pope’s letter stresses that “real, authentic” education comes from God, who is the source of truth and freedom. He elaborates by stating that freedom must also be extended to those whose way of life is different from our own.
The letter calls parents “the first educators,” and explains how much of an important role they have in shaping their children’s lives. It also states that institutions should provide an education that is consistent with the conscience and principles shared by students’ families.
Justice is also a major focus in Benedict's message. He states that “truth of the human being” is what determines what is just. Peace, on the other hand, comes as a gift from God, but is also the responsibility of people. The declaration says that Jesus Christ is the “true peace,” and that in Him is “one family, reconciled in love.”
Lastly, the message makes pleas both to the media and to young people. It warns the media that its role is not simply to inform the people of world events, but also to form the minds of all those it reaches – people’s views about the world, it says, are shaped by what they learn from the news.
In his speech Friday at the Vatican, Pope Benedict referred to the uprisings that have taken place around the world in the past year, according to head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson.
“A series of protests by young people in Europe, in Latin America, in the United State, revealed a pessimist outlook and despair in the face of the crisis,” The Daily Star reported him as saying.
“In the year drawing to a close, a feeling of frustration caused by the economic crisis which has hit society, the world of work and the economy, has risen,” he continued, but in the World Day of Peace message Pope Benedict XVI encouraged young people to stand up and take responsibility to defend the standards of truth, justice, peace and freedom.
He called on them especially to not be discouraged or seek easy solutions, but to make commitments, face hard work and choose humility and dedication.