Papal fraternal message

Papal fraternal message

Pope Francis has sent “World Day of Peace” messages to the heads of state and government, as well as heads of religious institutions of many countries to celebrate the Roman Catholic Church’s feast day dedicated to peace. Among the recipients were President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Religious Affairs Director Prof. Mehmet Görmez.

Since it was first observed on Jan. 1, 1968, the “World Day of Peace” is held every Jan. 1, on the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.” In his first message for the World Day of Peace, like his predecessors, the pope preferred to make a magisterial declaration relevant to the social doctrine of the Church; the culture of fraternity.

“I appeal forcefully to all those who sow violence and death by force of arms: in the person you see today simply as an enemy to be beaten, discover rather your brother or sister, and hold back your hand! Give up the way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue, pardon and reconciliation, in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around you! … As long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities. For this reason, I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non-proliferation of arms and for the disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament.”

This was, of course, a clear and strong call for disarmament and forgiveness as ought to be expected from a man of religion. I remembered the support given to the struggle against land mines by the late Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately, including Turkey, land mines continue killing and maiming people and unfortunately hypocritical governments continue talking about how great their affection for the wellbeing of their people is, but continue investing and laying down such inhumane devices.

The pope’s 23-page message did not touch the land mine issue directly this year, but it covered a wide range of subjects including “family as the ‘wellspring of all fraternity,’” “the need to safeguard the right to life and religious freedom,” human trafficking, fraternity as a prerequisite for fighting poverty, as well as the impacts of corruption and organized crime on societies. “People’s legitimate ambitions, especially in the case of the young, should not be thwarted or offended, nor should people be robbed of their hope of realizing them. Nevertheless, ambition must not be confused with the abuse of power. …we should always remember we are brothers and sisters, and therefore teach others and ourselves not to consider our neighbor as an enemy or as an adversary to be eliminated.”

Furthermore, the pope stressed, “Fraternity generates social peace because it creates a balance between freedom and justice, between personal responsibility and solidarity. And so a political community must act in a transparent and responsible way to favor all this. Citizens must feel themselves represented by the public authorities in respect for their freedom. Yet, frequently a wedge is driven between citizens and institutions by partisan interests which disfigure that relationship, fostering the ration of an enduring climate of conflict.”

The papal message was indeed full of very valuable advice and it was very kind of Pope Francis to send, it among other world leaders, to Turkish executives. Do you think there is room to hope perhaps Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will spend some time to read and comprehend the message of the pope? He better do so…