Respect for human dignity essential to peace

Various blogs have picked up on the news item on Life Site about today's Vatican communiqué announcing the theme of the 2007 World Day of Peace. Interest has focussed particularly on the statement that disordered lifestyles are a threat to peace. The statement was issued in Italian but I think it deserves to be made more widely available. Therefore, gentle reader, my own translation...
The message of His Holiness, Benedict XVI for the 40th World Day of Peace to be celebrated on 1 January 2007 will be dedicated to the following theme “The human person: heart of peace”. The theme of reflection chosen by the Holy Father expresses the conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for the peace of the human family. Human dignity, in fact, is a seal impressed by God on man, created in His image and likeness (Gen 1.26-27), it is the sign of the common destiny of humanity, it is the foundation of love for God and for neighbour. Only in the awareness of the transcendent dignity of every man and woman is the human family on the path that leads to peace and to communion with God. Indeed, Benedict XVI affirmed in his Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas est: “love for neighbour is a path to encounter God” (16)

Today, perhaps with a more persuasive force and more effective means than in the past, human dignity is menaced by aberrant ideologies, attacked by a distorted use of science and technology, contradicted by various unfitting styles of life. Indeed, ideologies taken from nihilism or from fanaticism (materialistic or religious) profess to negate, or to impose presumed truths on, reality, man or God. Rather than serve the common good of humanity, science and technology (bio-medicine in particular), are often instrumental in an egotistical vision of progress and welfare. In short, propaganda and the growing acceptance of styles of life that are disordered and contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people until they extinguish the desire for an ordered and peaceful way of life. All of this represents a threat for humanity because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social life does not seek the common good.

The Church has the mission of announcing the Gospel of Life, the centrality of man in the universe and the love of God for humanity. Therefore the Church responds to the challenges of the present time with a christian anthropology founded on the three pillars of human dignity, sociality and action, in the world which is oriented according to the order established by God in the universe. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37) and, in the perspective of an integral and co-operative humanism tending to the development of the whole man and of all men. (Paul VI, Populorum progressio)

Indeed, the second Vatican Council underlined how “the Church knows well that its message is in harmony with the most secret longings of the human heart, when it defends the cause of the dignity of the human vocation, and thus restores hope to those who now despair of a higher destiny” (Gaudium et spes 21). Every offence against persons is a threat to peace; every threat to peace is an offence against the truth of the person and of God: “The human person is the heart of peace.
Original Italian text.

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