War has never relieved the lives of human beings, never has it been able to guide their path in history, nor has it succeeded in resolving the conflicts and oppositions that have arisen in their action. The effects of war are casualties, destruction, loss of humanity, intolerance, even the denial of the possibility of looking to the future with renewed confidence.
On the other hand, peace, as a concrete objective, remains in the soul and in the aspirations of the whole human family, of every people and of every person. This is the lesson that we can still draw today from the message that Saint John XXIII wanted to send to the world with the encyclical Pacem in Terris. A positive and constructive message which recalls that building peace means, above all, the commitment to structure a policy inspired by authentically human values that the encyclical sums up in truth, justice, love and freedom. .
However, sixty years later, humanity does not seem to have learned the lessons of the need for peace, of the quality of it. A glance at our daily life indeed shows that the selfishness of some and the ever more limited interests of some lead one to believe that they can find in weapons the solution to so many problems or to new needs, like those conflicts that emerge in the reality of the life of countries.
If the rules of international relations have limited the use of force and the overcoming of underdevelopment, which is one of the objectives of international action, the desire for power is still, unfortunately, a criterion of judgment and an element of activity in relations between States. And this manifests itself in the different regions with devastating effects on people and their loved ones, without sparing the infrastructure and the natural environment.
At this time, the increase in economic resources for armaments has again become an instrument of relations between States, showing that peace is only possible and achievable if it is based on a balance of their possession. All this engenders fear and terror and threatens to upset security because it masks “an unpredictable and uncontrollable fact that can trigger the spark that sets the apparatus of war in motion” (Pacem in Terris, n. 60).
There is a need for in-depth reform of the multilateral structures that States have put in place to manage security and guarantee peace, but which are now deprived of freedom and the possibility of action. It is not enough for them to proclaim peace if they are not endowed with the autonomous capacity to promote and implement concrete actions, because they risk not being at the service of the common good, but only partial instruments.
As the encyclical clearly explains, it is up to the States, called by their nature to serve their respective communities, to operate according to the method of freedom and to respond to the demands of justice, knowing however that “the problem of the adaptation of social reality to the objective requirements of justice is a problem that never admits of a definitive solution” (Pacem in Terris, n. 81).
These brief annotations want to contribute to the objective of deepening the encyclical that the Pontifical Lateran University and the Dicastery for Integral Human Development have promoted.
I entrust the university with the task of deepening the method of education for peace, not only through adequate but continuous training. A true scientific training is indeed the fruit of studies and research, of in-depth studies, updates and practical exercises: such must be the path to follow to open up new horizons and go beyond the didactic and organizational forms now outdated and no longer relevant to our time.
I am certain that the cycle of studies in Sciences of Peace that I have set up at the Lateran, will contribute to training the young generations in these objectives, to promote this culture of encounter which is the basis of a human community modeled according to brotherhood, which is then the norm of action to build peace.
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