The Vatican

News about Pacem in Terris 60 years later

– Supernatural Pacem in Terrissigned by John XXIII, is addressed not only to Christians, but to all people of good will.

Antonino Piccione-September 22, 2023-Reading time: 3 minutes
pacem in terris

Photo: A Ukrainian serviceman in the Donetsk region of Ukraine ©OSV News/Oleksandr Ratushniak, Reuters

Text that marks a turning point in the magisterium on the doctrine of the "just war", the "just war", the "just war" and the "just war". Pacem in TerrisThe document, signed by John XXIII sixty years ago in front of the RAI television cameras (April 11, 1963), is at the origin of another qualitative leap, the one towards other religions.

The difference between this encyclical and all the preceding ones is that it is addressed not only to Christians, but to all men of good will, for the question of peace cannot be resolved if there is no harmony among brothers or, worse still, if mistrust, if not hostility, prevails among nations and peoples.

The encyclical letter Pacem in terris It stands out, therefore, in the panorama of the pontifical magisterium of the twentieth century and continues to be a point of reference both within and beyond ecclesial frontiers.

In a message sent to Cardinal Peter Turkson, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and to the participants in the International Conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of Pacem in Terris, on the theme "War and other obstacles to peace", which has been held in recent days at the Vatican's Casina Pio IV,

Pope Francis affirms that "the present moment bears an eerie resemblance to the period immediately preceding the Pacem in Terris"and the Cuban missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of "widespread nuclear destruction" in October 1962. He added: "The work of the United Nations and related organizations to raise public awareness and promote appropriate regulatory measures remains crucial."

Cardinal Peter Turkson, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, to which Vatican News has access, explains that the Pacem in Terris John XXIII is a "testament to humanity", and that also in the magisterium of Pope Francis "there is an invitation to humanity to consider that without respect for the dignity of persons, their freedom, love and trust, a culture of peace cannot be cultivated".

The Ghanaian cardinal recalls that while Pope Roncalli called for a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, Bergoglio "considers immoral even the mere manufacture and possession of atomic devices". Thus, there is no longer talk of a "balance between missiles, but of a change of heart".

In the background, Francis continues in his message, "the increasingly urgent ethical problems raised by the use in contemporary warfare of so-called 'conventional weapons', which should only be used for defensive purposes and not directed against civilian targets".

It is expected that the Conference, "in addition to analyzing current military and technological threats to peace, will include a disciplined ethical reflection on the grave risks associated with the continued possession of nuclear weapons, the urgent need for renewed progress in disarmament and the development of peace-building initiatives."

Turkson recalls the relevance of the encyclical: "Russia fears that pro-Western Ukraine will allow NATO to bring missiles to its border. The same fear Kennedy had 60 years ago with Cuba". The immorality of weapons of destruction must be countered by the moral authority, impartiality and diplomacy of the Pontiff and the Holy See: "When there are conflicts between nations," Turkson stresses, "one side is not chosen, but they are considered as two sons at war."

A mediation that has been successful between Argentina and Chile, or even between Spain and Germany over the Canary archipelago. Even the current mission of Cardinal Matteo Zuppi in Ukraine, Russia, the United States and China is linked to this desire to promote a peace that consists of respect for the right to human life and all other human rights."

John Paul II already wanted to remind us of the importance of the Pacem in Terris dedicating a World Day of Peace in 2003In his speech on the fortieth anniversary of the encyclical, in whose title he associated the idea of a permanent commitment that springs from it. The encyclical shows how John XXIII "was a person who was not afraid of the future"; from him emanates a sense of "trust in the men and women" of our time as a condition for "building a world of peace on earth".

This captures the perspective indicated by the Pacem in terrisWhile teaching that relations between individuals, communities and nations should be based on the principles of truth, justice, love and freedom, it reminds us that it is people who create the conditions for peace, that is, all people of good will.

Open dialogue and collaboration without barriers become the theme and style not only of the search for peace, but of all forms of coexistence. In this sense, the encyclical introduces a distinction, which aroused some discontent at the time, by placing, alongside the distinction between error and error, that between ideologies and socio-historical movements. As if to say that encounter and dialogue cannot find preclusion before the human being, whoever and wherever he or she may be.

The authorAntonino Piccione

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.