Reflection by Bishop Martin on the Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2021:
Pope Francis in his address on the World Day of Peace on 1st January 2021 acknowledges the suffering caused by Covid-19 in terms of sickness and deaths, sympathises with the bereaved, pays tribute to the healthcare workers and highlights the impact of Covid-19 upon the poor. Drawing upon the encyclicals Laudato Si and Fratelli tutti Pope Francis makes the following key points which are worthy of our reflection.
In the spirit of Laudato Si’ he calls attention to the connection between us and creation, to our need to preserve the capacity of the earth to support life. God is the creator of the earth and of humanity, therefore, everything is interconnected. God wants to preserve the harmony of his creation, hence, included in its design is the concept of Sabbath and Jubilee, rest and renewal for the land and the labourer.
Pope Francis emphasises that Jesus came among us to fulfil the Father’s will by reaching out to the sick and the poor culminating in His offering of Himself on the Cross thus inspiring the early Fathers to develop the concept of the ‘common good’ which is now given expression in the Church’s social doctrine. At its core are persons, equal in dignity with their rights and duties, who are called to live together in the service of the common good. Pope Francis points to our experience of Covid-19 to declare that ‘we are all in the same boat’ – in solidarity with each other as neighbours and companions on our journey.
Reflecting further upon Laudato Si’ Pope Francis highlights that the authentic deep communion with the rest of nature must be inextricably linked to concern for our fellow human beings.
The principles based upon the core values of care for creation, the dignity of the human person and the preferential option for the poor become the compass according to Pope Francis to give direction to the ways in which we can address current inequalities in our world and act in solidarity for the common good. Otherwise, we drift into conflict which disrupts family life and the education of children – the future generations.
Pope Francis highlights the wasteful use of resources on weaponry in the futile attempt to resolve such conflict. He calls on world leaders to be courageous enough to initiate a Global Fund, using the money spent on military equipment to feed the hungry and the poor. In this regard he emphasises that education in the culture of care in our families, schools and universities must be promoted by our religious, civic and community leaders.
Pope Francis concludes by referencing what has been revealed by our current pandemic and calls for a culture of care to ensure a path to peace and for ‘bold and creative’ peacemakers to make that happen.
The full text of Pope Francis’ Message for the Celebration of the 2021 World Day of Peace can be accessed from the following link: www.kilmorediocese.ie/message-of-pope-francis-for-the-celebration-of-the-54th-world-day-of-peace-1-january-2021/
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015)
 Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020)
 Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (1 January 2021), No. 2, para. 1
 Ibid. No. 3
 Ibid. No. 6, para. 3
 Ibid. No. 6, para. 5
 Ibid. No. 7, para. 1
 Ibid. No. 7, para. 5
 Ibid. No. 8
 Ibid. No 9