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Yes, to human needs. No, to militarization.

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Fifty-five years ago, on Jan. 1, 1968, with the Vietnam War raging, and numerous other armed conflicts causing untold death and destruction, St. Pope Paul VI initiated the first World Day of Peace. He wrote, “We address ourself to all men of good will to exhort them to celebrate “The Day of Peace” throughout the world, on the first day of the year.”

Pope Paul emphasized that this annual day of peace should encourage a defense of peace from selfish national ambitions in relations among nations, and should oppose the increasing danger of “recourse to frightful weapons of extermination, which some nations possess.” He further explained that this day of peace should challenge the harmful injustice of spending enormous money on weapons, “the expenditure of which is reason for painful reflection in the presence of the grave needs which hinder the development of so many other peoples.”  

With the passing of 55 years, it is most unfortunate that St. Pope Paul’s dire words of warning against vast expenditures on armaments at the price of unmet desperate needs of countless poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters, still need to be echoed by his current predecessor.

Pope Francis, in his Jan. 1, 2022 World Day of Peace message entitled Dialogue between generations, education and work: tools for building lasting peace, writes “In recent years, there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments. Yet they are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals more free and responsible, and they are essential for the defense and promotion of peace.”

The Holy Father continues writing in his challenging message that “Military expenditures, on the other hand, have increased beyond the levels at the end of the Cold War and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that world military spending rose to almost $2 trillion in 2020 – even amid the global COVID pandemic. The U.S. as the largest military spender, allocated a whopping $778 billion for its military (see: https://bit.ly/34fOueN).

Condemning this highly immoral misdirected use of valuable funds, Pope Francis writes, “It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry. The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for health care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth.”

Spot-on, Pope Francis!

The old bumper-sticker attributed to the down-to-earth wisdom writer, Robert Fulghum, fits nicely here: “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.”

Pope Francis also makes a point to emphasize the importance of political responsibility in addressing the rights of workers and the common good. He writes, “Politics is called to play an active role by promoting a fair balance between economic freedom and social justice. All who work in this field, starting with Catholic workers and entrepreneurs, can find sure guidelines in the Church’s social doctrine” (see: https://bit.ly/3pMGWZj) and  https://www.crs.org/resource-center/CST-101).

In closing his 2022 World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis offers this invitation: “May more and more men and women strive daily, with quiet humility and courage, to be artisans of peace. And may they be ever inspired and accompanied by the blessings of the God of peace!”

Let’s be sure to accept the Holy Father’s invitation. Let’s become “artisans of peace!”

Tony Magliano
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Comments from readers

Rafael María Calvo Forte - 01/31/2022 04:46 PM
Estoy convencido de que lo único que puede sacar un pueblo a flote y estabilzar su nivel de vida es invirtiendo en una educación en valores. El P. José María Vélaz S.J. en la universidad católica Andrés Bello de Caracas, creó Fe y Alegría ( donde el asfalto no llega) y con très religiosas fundaba una escuela con lo mínimo básico y aquel barrio se iba transformando poco a poco. Los padres pagaban una mínima cuota mensual y se comprometían con el mantenimiento de la escuela. De éstas, salían obreros calificados, bachilleres y hombres y mujeres aptos para un trabajo digno. En cada barrio donde está Fe y Alegría, todo se transformaba para el bien de todos. No sé, cómo estarán en estos momentos…
Carlos - 01/31/2022 02:35 PM
Entiendo el mensaje que pretende pasarnos, pero por que es siempre USA quien recibe todos los comentarios negativos. Rusia, China, India y los paises musulmanes no son cristianos, por lo que los mensajes del Santo Padre no los recibirán y mucho menos los seguirán. "Si quieres paz, preparate para la guerra". Nosotros a orar y las fuerzas armadas a protegernos. Gracias !!
Antonio - 01/31/2022 12:10 PM
Lots of talk and criticism at USA Military but no mention on communist China and their gigantic military spending. History shows us evil anti Christian communist regimes are the real threat to world peace, not America. Blogger seems one sided and modernist, left leaning based on other articles he has posted. I encourage him to opine on Chinas military and the regimes repression of the Catholic church.
Jose Jimenez - 01/31/2022 11:20 AM
Thank you for this article. Catholics should agree that the objective is peace, and that the best environment for societies to develop a culture of Christian charity is when we are not at war so we can focus on brining souls to Christ through His Church. We should not discount the proven effectiveness of peace through strength. Societies with the ability to defend their borders and protect their citizen´s interests from foreign military or economic attacks are best suited to maintain peace. The converse is also true: weak societies are vulnerable and often the target of aggressors that oftentimes impose dictatorships that can only maintain control by suppressing the Church, persecuting believers, and establishing a culture that depends entirely on the centralized government power. Military spending can be good and even necessary to protect and defend the individual rights and freedoms that permit their citizens to develop to their potential on materially and spiritually. When military spending is driven by greed, arrogance, or destructive obsessions, then better options should be considered to develop a society that is worth protecting for the greater glory of God.

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