Every New Year, the Pope offers the Catholic Church a message of peace. This year, the 54th World Day of Peace Message strikes a deep chord of resonance for our Church and our world.
We live in a time of tension and division in almost all aspects of civic life. Conflict infiltrates families and faith communities, cities, states and countries. This tension seems to reflect fundamentally different views of the world: We comprehend events differently, as we interpret with different lenses, with different expectations and perspectives.
Pope Francis cuts to the heart of the division and acrimony we feel, hear, see and—even unwittingly—often participate in. He names the reality: While there are many “testimonies of love and solidarity, we have also seen a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake.”
Pope Francis calls us to align our lives with fundamental Catholic Social Doctrine. He offers these teachings as a compass to unite us, as we maneuver through these challenging days. Rooted in the deep knowledge of God’s steadfast love, we are called to remember “how important it is to care for one another and for creation.” Basic, yet challenging, Pope Francis lays out a template to restart our world ravaged by the pandemic and civic unrest.
Pope Francis invites us to use the principles of the Catholic Social Teaching as the basis for a culture of care. He refers to this as a “grammar” of care—principles and criteria that shape the way we interact and treat one another. He encourages us to unite: “A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.” This “grammar” includes:
Care as promotion of the dignity and rights or each person.
Always called toward relationship not individualism, inclusion not exclusion, all human life has inherent dignity. As such, we are called to “welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded, every one of our neighbors, near or far in space and time.”
Care for the common good.
“Every aspect of social, political and economic life achieves its fullest end when placed at the service of the common good.” The question should not be, What works for me? Rather, What social conditions will allow others to reach their full potential?
Care through solidarity.
We must recognize we each have an impact on and a responsibility to one another. This impact and responsibility extends beyond our family, state and country—to reach all corners of the world, and every person.
Care and protection of creation.
All creation is interconnected. We are to look deeply into the tenderness, compassion and concern we hold back, to set us free to care for all of creation.
We are invited to embrace this compass for our lives. And we are challenged to embrace a process of growing and learning—educating ourselves and one another. Individually and collectively, Now is the acceptable time.