The Cardinal moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbour. (CCC 1807)
Peace is the goal of Christian living, as indicated by Jesus who said: “Blessed are the peacemakers”. (CCC 2304)
[The Christian duty] …increases the obligation to work with all men in the building of a more human world. (GS, 57)
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The fragile and complex concept of Peace – a personal reflection
These thoughts come just 30 min after the news came through that Russia has attacked the Ukraine, explosions have been heard in several cities, the sirens are howling and people flee to underground shelters.
I realise how fragile, complex and interwoven the concept and feeling of peace is for me, my whānau and the world, and different thoughts come to mind, interwoven with the stories of my experiences and that of my family… while I try to take in the situation.
On our video chat that evening my son’s girlfriend is clearly upset, crying, being scared of what will happen next. She has grown up in a united Germany, educated and brought up with the concept and treasure of democracy. She never witnessed anything hostile politically closeby. What just started and seems to be a potential threat, does not make any sense to her. And she can’t really put this into perspective and not fall into apocalyptic views or worst case scenarios… just at a time where she got a glimpse of a peaceful time after the pandemic.
I try to catch up with my mother as well, a post-war child, her parents refugees from the East (internally-displaced). She wasn’t able to speak much at all, glued to the news, “No sorry, I have to watch this, I remember this all from my mama.“ And suddenly the memories from her mother are present again, that became a feature for her childhood: The sound of sirens. When the sirens went on her mother shushed the whole family under the table, to pray the Hail Mary. The same happened during thunderstorms, it reminded her of the air raids. My grandmother escaped Dresden with two young children in the morning before the big bombing, following an inner instinct… Even today my mother does not like the sound of sirens, not even on TV. She watches in disbelief and fear.
My father could still remember the flight from the East, and the time before, where he was not allowed to speak his mother tongue outside the home. Much of the stories that left his parents’ families scattered over the whole of Poland and East and West Germany are buried somewhere in his memory, he does not talk or want to remember… I was too little to remember, he says. He keeps his peace with an everyday routine, that keeps him stable and sane. It helped him to keep his peace through the time of the pandemic.
And here I am, in the safe haven of Aotearoa NZ, encouraging my students to find inner peace and the peace of Christ in their everyday lives. How naive this feels, looking at the global complex picture of peace at the moment, bringing my own experiences to the mixture. Belonging to generation X, I have not experienced “non-peace” first hand, but second hand. I grew up with my grandparents in our home and with their constant stories about the war and flight. Fighting in a war or being on the flight myself from somewhere were regular dreams I had as a child and teenager. When Māori talk about generative trauma, I do understand that historical trauma can be inherited to the next generation. I saw the changing borders in Europe due to wars from afar, but I also witnessed the unbelievable time of the coming down of the Berlin Wall, I was in Year 13 that time in the West. A movement that started as peace prayers in East German churches (as people were not allowed to demonstrate publicly) spreading to the whole of Europe.
My grandparents were and my parents are people of faith, hope therefore was not just a distant concept but an essential practical approach to life, that I have learned from them.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Christian hope is “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817).
And in these complexities of peace shaped by memories, emotions, politics and history, hope seems the only right thing to do, to continue to teach our children and to move forward.
The world yearns for peace but the invasion of Ukraine evokes memories of the Iron Curtain and the brutality that existed behind it during the Cold War. For many years the world has feared a nuclear war – the Cuban Missile Crisis was one example – and now allies of Ukraine have received a veiled threat of nuclear retaliation if assistance is given to this unfortunate country.
FIfteen Million Plastic Bags
I was walking in a government warehouse
Where the daylight never goes
I saw fifteen million plastic bags
Hanging in a thousand rows.
Five million bags were six feet long
Five million bags were five foot five
Five million were stamped with Mickey Mouse
And they came in a smaller size.
Were they for guns or uniforms
Or a dirty kind of party game?
Then I saw each bag had a number
And every bag bore a name.
And five million bags were six feet long
Five million were five foot five
Five million were stamped with Mickey Mouse
And they came in a smaller size.
So I’ve taken my bag from the hanger
And I’ve pulled it over my head
And I’ll wait for the priest to zip it
So the radiation won’t spread.
Now five million bags are six feet long
Five million are five foot five
Five million are stamped with Mickey Mouse
And they come in a smaller size.
(Adrian Mitchell, 1932-2008)
Arms of mass destruction – whether biological, chemical or nuclear – represent a particularly serious threat. Those who possess them have an enormous responsibility before God and all of humanity. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 509, pp 255-256).
Catholic Social Teaching on international order teaches that “The international community is a juridical community founded on the sovereignty of each member state, without bonds of subordination that deny or limit its independence.” (Pius XII, Christmas Radio Message on a Just International Peace, (24 December 1939).
Further, the cultural dimension of the sovereign state takes on particular importance as a source of strength in resisting acts of aggression or forms of domination that have repercussions on a country’s freedom.
In the attack on Ukraine the deaths and shattered lives of fellow human beings is viewed by the aggressor as mere collateral damage in his pursuit of ego, power and greed. “Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 37: AAS 68 (1976), 29.
The pursuit of peace, however, offers our world new opportunities to grow and extend love for our neighbour, to protect human dignity and the earth we live on. Peace is one of the greatest gifts God offers to humankind. It begins with us, with the inner peace of Christ which surpasses any temporary peace the world can give:
“He rangimārie tāku e waiho nei ki a koutou, tēnei tāku rangimārie te hoatu nei e ahau ki a
koutou. E kore e rite ki tā te ao hoatu tāku hoatu ki a koutou”. Hoani 14: 27.
My peace I leave you, my peace I give you. My peace is not the peace the world gives you”
Barbara Te Miha & Antje Duda
CCJP learn about West Papua Decolonisation struggle
Recently two CCJP members Ron & Grant recently attended a talk given by three speakers about the current situation in West Papua.
The event was organised by the United Nations Assoc. NZ (Canterbury) in association with Canterbury University & West Papua Action Canterbury, the plight of the indigenous peoples of West Papua was the subject of a Presentation and Forum Panel at the University of Canterbury.
The Remar group from Catholic Cathedral College participated in the #SharetheJourney solidarity walk.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 Annual CCJP Essay and Multimedia competition.