Sunday, January 1, 2017

Integral Human Development

Today the Church celebrates its 50th annual World Day of Peace. In his message for today the Holy Father calls us to a deeper understanding of "active nonviolence" as the best way to solve the many conflicts in our world. Some will dismiss his message as naive. But if these initial years of the 21st century have taught us anything, it is that violence simply begets more violence.

As we start this new year Pope Francis invites us to look at the roots of global violence in our hearts and homes. He worries that our constant exposure to violence in the news and other media has desensitized us to it rather than deepening our concern for and solidarity with the suffering.

Not content with simply a message this Pope has taken action. Today January 1, 2017 a new dicastery comes into being in the Vatican. At a time when some Church bureaucracies are expanding with more offices, more people with longer titles, Pope Francis is combining four existing offices into one. The name for the new office "promoting integral human development" describes what we Christians have always known, that we are one.

On the level of the individual, it reminds us that we can't dissect a person and say as a Church that it is our mission to deal with spiritual needs as if those can be separated from the physical, psychological and emotional needs. On the global level, it reminds us that we are part of the single human race that God created us to be. Integral human development means that we must teach our children not how to be only Virginians, or Americans, or Catholics; but responsible members of a global society.

On this 50th World Day of Peace let us recommit ourselves to riding our world of division and violence, starting with our individual hearts.