Vatican City, 26 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Days commemorating the 50th Anniversary of John XXIII's encyclical, “Pacem in Terris”, which was published on 11 April 1963 and offered, as Bishop Mario Toso explained, “a structure for thought and political planning that ensured that the Church and believers were committed to social questions in the years to come, with a truly universal capacity for foresight and suggestion”.
The speakers at the conference were Bishop Toso, secretary for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, and Vittorio Alberti, respectively president and official of the same dicastery. The Days will be held on 2, 3 and 4 October.
The commemoration Days are intended to offer an occasion for reflection on the current relevance and actualisation of the contents of “Pacem in Terris” in contemporary reality and to hasten the implementation of its fundamental teachings in the areas of human rights, the common good, and politics. These are all fields, Cardinal Turkson said, “in which the peaceful co-existence of peoples and nations is at stake. Indeed, to achieve peace, rather than offering theories on peace or war, Pope John made an appeal to man himself and to his dignity”.
The three days will focus on three issues. The first is the question the role of political institutions and global policies, and in facing this type of problem it was considered necessary “to begin with an examination of the theme of reform of the largest global institution: the United Nations”. Other urgent matters that, “due to the phenomenon of globalisation, have assumed dimensions significant enough to warrant the commitment and co-operation of the international community, are those of work, or rather unemployment, and the protection of human rights”.
“We have decided to then explain … how international collaboration takes place within the great regional political institutions: the European Council, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organisation of American States and the organisation for Asian Co-operation Dialogue”, added Cardinal Turkson. The contributions of experts in the field will be heard alongside those of exponents of the ecclesial world who, on 3 October, will speak about the institutions which, within the Catholic Church, unite the national episcopal conferences into entities on a continental scale”.
On 4 October the second matter will be considered: the new frontiers of peace. “The implementation of 'Pacem in Terris' begins from the assumption that we currently act in contexts significantly different to those of fifty years ago, a time in which conflict, not always merely latent, essentially took the form of the opposition of two blocs engaged in the 'Cold War'. It was therefore decided to identify the challenges that currently appear most dangerous for peacekeeping: religious freedom and, more specifically, the issue of the persecution of Christians throughout the world; the economic crisis, which is first and foremost a moral crisis; the emergency of education, especially acute in the mass media; conflicts, ever more recurrent, over access to resources; the distorted use of biological sciences which causes profound harm to human dignity; armaments; and security measures”.
A dual approach is taken to the theme of education: formation and practical experience, to which the first Day, 2 October, will be dedicated. “Around 60 rectors and lecturers, representing the same number of pontifical and Catholic universities from all five continents, will meet to consider in depth one of the most crucial questions of our time: the formation of new generations of Catholics engaged in politics”. In response to this need, representatives of bodies of regional governance will present their experiences, reflecting upon “the method in use for pursuing the common good at a continental level”.
The cardinal concluded by mentioning that, as a corollary to the three-day event, there will be a presentation of the volume “The Concept of Peace”, produced with the collaboration of eminent scholars in the field.