The Global Prayer Network Pope Francis has published the video with the intention for this month of April 2023. Francis calls for a culture of non-violence recalling the words that his predecessor St. John XXIII left in writing in "Pacem in Terris", stating that war is madness and that it escapes reason.
The Holy Father says that "to live, speak and act without violence is not to give up, it is not to lose or renounce anything. It is to aspire to everything". He goes on to call for the cultivation of a culture of peace, both in daily life and in the international arena.
Below is the press release written by the World Prayer Network and the full video:
"Let us develop a culture of peace. Culture of peace," Pope Francis strongly urges. This is the call made by The Pope's April Video with the new prayer intention that he entrusts to the entire Catholic Church, through the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.
April 11 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the encyclical Pacem in terris written by Pope John XXIII and subtitled "On peace among all peoples, which must be founded on truth, justice, love and freedom". In this month's video, Francis forcefully renews this message, stressing "that war is madness, it is beyond reason".
That phrase from sixty years ago, quoted by Francis in the message accompanying his prayer intention, is more relevant than ever, as are the testimonies left by some of the people who planted seeds of peace in the last century: St. John XXIII, of course, but also Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, St. Teresa of Calcutta. In this month's Pope Video, their black-and-white portraits appear amid the scenes of destruction caused by today's violence: from the war in Ukraine to those in the Middle East, to the clashes and shootings in even the richest countries, such as the United States. Although there has been no shortage of witnesses, in the end, the world has not yet learned the fundamental lesson: that "any war, any armed confrontation, ends up being a defeat for everyone".
Peace is the goal
In an article that Amnesty International published on data and statistics on gun use between 2012 and 2016, it reveals a sample of what results from a culture of violence: for example, more than 500 people die every day from gun violence and an average of 2000 are injured; in addition, 44 % of homicides in the world are committed with firearms. This is directly related to the arms industry: 8 million handguns are produced each year, along with 15 billion rounds of ammunition. And as far as armed conflict is concerned, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) anticipated that the outlook for 2023 does not appear to be encouraging: new confrontations, in particular the Russian invasion of Ukraine and outbreaks in Asia, added to ongoing conflicts and armed struggles in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, among others.
The only possible way to stop this onslaught is to seek and implement, at the local and international level, ways of real dialogue and to assume "nonviolence" as "a guide for our actions". This message echoes what Pope John XXIII said 60 years ago: "Violence has never done anything but destroy, not edify; inflame passions, not calm them; accumulate hatred and debris, not fraternize the contenders, and has precipitated men and parties to the hard need to rebuild slowly, after painful trials, on the wreckage of discord".
Peace without weapons
At a moment in history marked by the conflict in Ukraine, which has involved a large number of countries in the last year, Francis recalls that, even in cases of self-defense, the ultimate goal must always be peace: even when this peace, as today, seems distant. But "a lasting peace - he adds - can only be a peace without weapons", and for this reason he insists on the theme dear to his heart of disarmament at all levels, including within society: "the culture of non-violence - he concludes in fact, in his prayer intention - passes through an ever decreasing recourse to arms, both on the part of States and citizens".
Fr. Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope's World Network of Prayer, commented: "In the face of the violence of our time, Francis proposes a whole month to pray 'for a greater diffusion of a culture of nonviolence. Peace among peoples begins, in fact, in the most concrete and intimate part of the heart, when I meet the other in the street, his face, his gaze, especially the one who comes from elsewhere, the one who does not speak as I do and does not have the same culture, the one who is strange in his attitudes and is called 'foreigner'. War and conflict begin here and now, in our hearts, every time we allow violence to replace justice and forgiveness. The Gospel shows us that the life of Jesus reveals the true way of peace and invites us to follow him. It is in this spirit that we are called to 'disarm' ourselves, in the sense of 'disarming' our words, our actions, our hatred. Let us pray then, as Francis invites us to do, that 'we may make nonviolence, both in daily life and in international relations, a guide for our actions'".