INTRODUCTION TO PEACE WORLD
Peace World is an off-shoot of the mandate of the Justice and Peace Pontifical Council that targets young people in the school environment with the aim of promoting the social ministry of the Church in both theory and practice. It is a platform for learning about justice and peace issues as contained in the Catholic Social Teaching (CST), aimed at raising the aspirations of young people to engage with the world around them and hopefully, to make a difference.
By its very nature, CST has universal validity for interpreting and evaluating social phenomena (such as the condition of labour, refugee-problem, migration and human trafficking issues), just as the dissemination of the teaching is also an integral part of proclaiming the gospel. Yet to many Catholics, the CST is a hidden treasure – making it an underused resource in the face of the daunting challenges of spreading the gospel to every corner of the world.
This realisation, perhaps, informed the message of Pope Benedict XVI on the World Day of Peace in 2012, which he specifically directed towards the teaching of young people. Entitled “Educating young people in Justice and Peace”, Benedict XVI articulated the many dimensions of teaching and learning and the roles of various intermediaries such as parents, teachers and catechists in the education of the young. His message was borne out of the conviction that the young with their enthusiasm and idealism can offer new hope to the world. The education enterprise he maintained, must be able to lead them to discover their vocation in life and also to develop their God-given talents. Whilst extolling the virtues of justice and peace, he called for a “common responsibility towards present and future generations, especially in the task of training them to be people of peace and builders of peace”.
It has been over several years since that message was given, but like numerous other magisterial teachings, so little or nothing has been done in taking this message to meet with the young people where they are – in the classroom.
It is against this backdrop that Peace World was born on the Isle of Wight – as a practical and systematic response to this specific invitation of Benedict XVI to expound the CST to the younger generation. Peace World emphasises the need for young people to build resilience and discipline, and to see themselves as citizens of the world. They are expected to imbibe the virtue of peace from within, and also to be socially active in the school and the community as peace-builders. With the Peace World, we are forming a new generation of informed citizens, who are given a voice and are hopefully ready to bring about positive changes in society. It fulfils a core mandate of Catholic schools as seedbeds of evangelisation, and the charge of Pope Francis to find new ways of doing this.