The World Day of Peace is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to universal peace, held on 1 January, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Pope Paul VI established it in 1967, being inspired by the encyclical Pacem in Terris of Pope John XXIII and with reference to his own encyclical Populorum Progressio.
Established by Pope St. Paul VI in 1967, the first World Day of Peace was observed on 1 January 1968. On New Year’s Day, the Church also celebrates the solemn feast of Mary, Mother of God.
World Day of Peace often has been an occasion on which the Popes made magisterial declarations of social doctrine. Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II made important declarations on the Day in each year of their pontificates regarding the United Nations, human rights, women’s rights, labor unions, economic development, the right to life, international diplomacy, peace in the Holy Land (Israel), globalization, and terrorism.
In his message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, Pope Francis appeals to the international community and every individual to foster a “culture of care” by advancing on the path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.
The day calls…
The day calls for a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity and good of all, a willingness to show care and compassion, to work for reconciliation and healing, and to advance mutual respect and acceptance.
A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace” is the theme of the 2021 for this day, as it is addressed to heads of state and government, leaders of international organizations, spiritual leaders and followers of the different religions, and to men and women of good will.
Weapons and peace
In this regard, the day calls for resources spent on arms, especially nuclear weapons, to be used for priorities such safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care.
It would be a courageous decision to establish a ‘Global Fund’ with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries!
Educating to peace
This begins in the family where one can learn how to live and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect. Schools and universities, the communications media, as also religions and religious leaders are called to pass on a system of values based on the recognition of the dignity of each person, each linguistic, ethnic and religious community and each people.
World Day of Peace Events
- To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”
- On this day the present Pope makes magisterial declarations relevant to the social doctrine of the Church.
- Other activities include private gatherings, public concerts and forums involving large audiences.
A new beginning
The year 2020 was marked by the massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship.
Sad to say, alongside all these 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.
These and other events that marked humanity’s path this past year have taught us how important it is to care for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society.
Alongside the pandemic, the year also notes a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake. These and other events of 2020 have underscored the importance of caring for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. Hence, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace is a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.