“PEACE UNDER FIRE IN GAZA”

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By: Pablo A. Blanco Gonzalez

This could be one of the nowadays titles of any newspaper referring to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East region in conflict. The war brings us back again its worst face: innocent children injured and cruel suffering for all people.

In his recent exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis remarks the main importance of Peace as a supreme good, as a gift to be guarded. Indeed, among the issues addressed by the exhortation, Francis focuses precisely on Common Good and Peace.

But what's new in the words of Pope Francis? Can we find new keys to build a Peace that seems to be never lasting and solid? What lessons can be drawn?

Francis, first alerts on the risk of understanding Peace in an “irenic”[1] way, ergo as building Peace on the basis of not confronting the truth, shaping circumstances according to conveniences, which is not a solid foundation for Peace.

Second, he also refutes the idea of ​​Peace as a mere absence of violence, based on a precarious balance of power, or achieved by the imposition of one sector (or country) over another.

Both intervention, in favor of stopping the invasion of Syria, and then bringing together the President of Israel (Shimon Peres) and Palestine (Mahmoud Abbas) in a historic interfaith ceremony at the Vatican Gardens (June 2014), are clear examples where Francis urges "… we call on you to make Palestine and Jerusalem, in particular, a secure land for all believers, a place of prayer and worship…"[2]. It is clear and certain that Pope Francis is determined to act in favor of Peace[3].

Third, it is a false Peace one that serves as an excuse to support an unfair social system that silences the poor and innocents; where those who enjoy greatest benefits can sustain their lifestyle smoothly while others survive as they can[4].

Fourth, in number 219, Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of Peace arising as a result of social development (retrieving Paul VI). Peace will not last if it is set on the basis of injustice and inequality; it has no future and will always be the seed of new conflicts and violence.

Fifth, Francis point to a new dimension of Peace, now closely linked to a greater awareness and citizen engagement “…people in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens, not as a mob swayed by the powers that be…”.[5]

He lets us not to forget that “…responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation …”[6]

A higher standard of citizenship, committed and demanding, therefore commits the State (any State) not to take an aloof attitude towards its obligation as guarantor of the common good of society “…based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building, it plays a fundamental role, one which cannot be delegated, in working for the integral development of all...” [7],  and also for Peace.

This renewed appreciation it is extended to the Church, whose mission is “…together with the various sectors of society, to support those programmes which best respond to the dignity of each person and the common good. In doing this, she proposes in a clear way the fundamental values of human life…”[8]

The Church proclaims “the Gospel of Peace” (Eph 6:15) so, from Pope Francis perspective, she has to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding the immense universal good of Peace.

The new evangelization calls on every person “…to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life…”. [9]

 



[1] An irenic attitude is that of one who tries to create or preserve peace easily avoiding confrontations. It seems like an irresponsible and rather comfortable “tolerance”, “reconciling” things opposed to one another.

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/08/world/europe/pope-abbas-peres/

[3] Currently there are 22 countries at war, and the number of children soldiers participating is around 300,000 (UNICEF​​). Read more at: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/404456/0/mundo/guerras/activas/#xtor=AD-15&xts=467263#xtor=AD-15&xts=467263

[4] POPE FRANCIS. Evangelii Gaudium, n° 218.

[5] Idem 5, n° 220.

[6] Idem 5, n° 220.

[7] Idem 5, n° 240.

[8] Idem 5, n° 241.

[9] Cfr. Evangelii Gaudium, n° 239.

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