Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, has issued a pastoral letter on the themes of slavery and human trafficking. In his pastoral Bishop Treanor reflects on the significance of the World Day of Peace initiative and the theme for this year which is ‘No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters’.
An excerpt from Bishop Treanor’s pastoral follows.
The World Day of Peace
On New Year’s Day each year the Catholic tradition celebrates World Day of Peace. Pope Paul VI announced this initiative in 1967. Since 1968 the Holy Father has written a Message for the occasion, each one dealing with a burning social issue of our times.
Significance of the World Day of Peace Messages
These Messages for World Peace Day spell out the social meaning of the Gospel. They point out the social imperative arising from believing in Jesus Christ. They put before us a challenging reality: that discovering and knowing God in Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Mary, gives us a new and sharpened sense of the dignity of each human person, as made in the image of God. This insight should inspire each believer to work for justice, truth and peace.
The World Day of Peace encourages us to give concrete expression to our faith. It tell us that worship and prayer must lead to active engagement to improve society and its structures. It reminds us that the two basic commandments – love of God and love of neighbour – are interconnected and interdependent. Rounding off the octave of the Feast of the Nativity, on the first day of the New Year, the message for the World Day of Peace highlights our responsibility as Christian citizens. It reminds us as citizens, who are Christians, that we cannot be indifferent to the social order. As Christians we carry a responsibility for the quality of life in our world. These Messages inoculate us, Christians, against indifference to injustice.
Theme for 2015: “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters”
This is the title Pope Francis has chosen for 2015 World Day of Peace message – the 48th so far. Its subject is modern forms of slavery. In a nut shell, his message is this: by our baptism we are introduced into a way of relating to God and to all humanity that does not leave place for “man’s exploitation by man” (no.1). Indeed the human person, once baptised in Christ, is opened to a new way of seeing the other person. Being Christian means treating and relating to all fellow human beings in a radically new way. When you read the text of Pope Francis’ message, you will notice that he takes his theme for this year from the New Testament Letter from St Paul to Philemon (no.2). It is a very short Letter – only one page of the Bible. Paul sends Onesimus back to his former master Philemon not as a slave; but asks him to accept and treat him as a brother in Christ out of love. (Phil.9) Paul points out that Baptism abolishes the distinction between master and slave.
End of excerpt
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To read Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace 2015 please click here.