Young People Vital for Justice and Peace

Young people will be the focus of the 45th World day of Peace in January 2012 in advance of World Youth Day later in the year. 

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has announced that the theme for this year is Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.  The Council states that the World Day of Peace theme, “Engages an urgent need in the world today: to listen to and enhance the important role of new generations in the realisation of the common good, and in the affirmation of a just and peaceful social order where fundamental human rights can be fully expressed and realised.”

The present generation has a duty to prepare future ones, this also includes a government obligation to ensure that young people have appropriate opportunities for personal growth, particularly through education and employment, allowing them to express freely and responsibly the urgency for a new world.  The Council states that Jesus is the model of love that, “makes all things new.”

According to the Council, nowadays young people labour for justice and peace in a complex and globalised world.  It is therefore necessary to establish a new 'pedagogical alliance' among all those responsible for the education and formation of young people, according to the Council.

The theme indicates an important area of concern in the teaching of Benedict XVI in his messages for the celebration of the World Day of Peace.  Previous themes have included:

  • The need for the truth in 2006: In Truth, Peace
  • Reflections on human dignity in 2007: The Human Person: The Heart of Peace
  • In 2008 it was The Human Family: A Community of Peace
  • In 2009, Fighting Poverty to Build Peace
  • On the care for creation 2010: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation
  • And this year it was: Religious Freedom: The Path to Peace.

World Day of Peace is a feast day of the Catholic Church dedicated to peace, and is marked annually on January 1, on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. 

In 1967, Populorum Progressio was published at the same time as the inauguration of the World Day of Peace by Pope Paul VI.  It was a deliberately chosen as the first day of the calendar year; a moment when people of all persuasions were looking both backwards and forwards reflecting on the possibility and the hope of a better future. 

Pope Paul saw the World Day of Peace as an occasion on which the Church could address people of good will of all religious backgrounds using the message and the concepts of the Christian teaching in a dialogical manner.

Ann Marie Foley




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