Pope Benedict XVI in his 2012 World Day of Peace message urged all people of goodwill to accept: “a common responsibility towards present and future generations, especially in the task of training them to be people of peace and builders of peace”. The emphasis here is on training, and that is where Peace World derives its mandate – to educate young people in justice and peace.
The many violent situations in our world today call for many actors at all levels in every country to get involved and stem the surging tide of violent crimes: shootings, stabbings, terrorist acts, wars and so on. There is no better time than now to initiate peace-building activities amongst young people wherever they are found, and sharpen their creative instincts to engage with the world around them as peace-builders. And there is no gainsaying that complex and deep issues about poverty and injustice compound this worrying situation.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 children are living in areas affected by conflict. Such adverse living conditions impair the proper development of these children. Developing ideological framework from different traditions (religious and secular) are not enough. These ideas also need structural platforms that would enable them to be translated into practical action. Indeed, ideas are often recycled. For example, Sustainable Development Goal number 16 (and some other goals) merely re-echoes the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) which has been developed in over a hundred years. That Goal calls for just, peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development; the provision of access to justice for all, and the establishment of effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
On the other hand, the Compendium of the CST asserts that: “Peace is threatened when man is not given all that is due him as a human person, when his dignity is not respected, and when civil life is not directed to the common good”. They both agree. And so our teaching mandate is to combine both traditions in developing our learning material so as to give a balanced view on every subject in focus, thus, giving the young people an opportunity to learn early in life. In all, the blessedness offered to those who seek and pursue peace by Jesus Christ is reassuring: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5: 9).