On the 60th anniversary of Pacem in Terris: the invitation to hope in mankind

Pope John XXIII sits at his desk in his private library at the Vatican as he records a radio and television speech on Sept. 11, 1962. The broadcast addresses next month's 21st Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope said the council would seek to cure and heal wounds of two world wars, which have profoundly changed the face of all countries. (AP Photo)

by Leonardo Salutati
(from the Alphonsian Academy blog)

11 April 2023 marked the 60th anniversary of the publication of Pacem in Terris, the encyclical of St John XXIII “on peace among all peoples”, and Pope Francis took this anniversary as the starting point for his annual address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

In light of the increasingly evident fact that we are in the presence of a “third world war in a globalised world, where conflicts directly affect only some areas of the planet, but in essence, involve everyone”, Pope Francis recalled that peace is possible in the light of four fundamental goods: truth, justice, solidarity and freedom, cornerstones that regulate both relations between individual human beings and those between political communities.

Expressly quoting Pacem in Terris, he emphasised that building peace in truth means, first of all, respecting the “right to existence and physical integrity” (PT 6) of every person, who must be guaranteed “freedom in the search for truth, the manifestation of a thought and its dissemination” (PT 7). These rights require that “public authorities contribute positively to the creation of a human environment in which all members of the social body are enabled and facilitated to effectively exercise the aforementioned rights, as well as the fulfilment of their respective duties” (PT 38). In this regard, however, Francis denounces the fact that despite the commitments made by all States to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person, still today, in many countries, this does not happen, particularly for women.

The promotion of justice and freedom requires that one does not allow “the violation of the freedom, integrity and security of other nations, whatever their territorial extension or defence capacity” (PT 66), but above all, as repeatedly reiterated by all previous Pontiffs starting with Pius XII that we finally take note of the need for a profound rethinking of the multilateral system (in particular the UN), which “demands a reform of the organs that allow it to function, so that they may be truly representative of the needs and sensitivities of all peoples, avoiding mechanisms that give some greater weight to the detriment of others” (Francis).

Pacem in Terris already recalled that the “universal common good now poses problems with global dimensions that cannot be adequately addressed and resolved” by individual states, requiring structures, means and public powers “that are capable of operating efficiently on a global scale” (PT 71); “endowed with suitable means to effectively pursue the objectives” that constitute their concrete content, “established by common agreement and not imposed by force”, capable “of operating effectively” with an action “informed by sincere and effective impartiality” so as not to become “an instrument of particularistic interests” (PT 72).

The way to reorganise the international life of individual states proposed by John’s encyclical and re-proposed again by Benedict XVI’s Caritas in veritate (cf. no. 57) calls for the application of the principle of subsidiarity in the ordering of international life insofar as it would allow the “public powers of the world community […] to contribute to the creation […] of an environment in which the public powers of the individual political communities […] can carry out their tasks, fulfil their duties, and exercise their rights with greater security” (PT 74), without limiting their sphere of action or substituting for them.

The value and usefulness of the principle of subsidiarity become even more evident in the face of the profound “interconnectedness that binds humanity today”, in the “awareness that we all need one another” (Francis) and thus the exercise of mutual solidarity. Among other things, the profound interconnection between political communities calls for increased attention to the new criticalities produced by migration, the serious crises in the world of economy and work, and the need for ever more attentive and punctual care of our common home.

In light of all this, Pope Francis, with St. John XXIII, continues to hope and invites us to “hope that men, in meeting and negotiating, may better discover the bonds that bind them, coming from their common humanity, and may also discover that one of the most profound demands of their common humanity is that between them and between their respective peoples reigns not fear, but love: which tends to express itself in loyal, multiform collaboration, bringing many goods” (PT 67).

source: https://www.ilmantellodellagiustizia.it/2023/da-papa-giovanni-xxiii-a-papa-francesco-linvito-a-sperare-nelluomo

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