The pope underscored that “in our fast-paced world, the widespread problems of inequality, injustice, poverty, and marginalization continue to fuel unrest and conflict, and generate violence and even wars.”
“We cannot continue to focus simply on preserving ourselves; rather, the time has come for all of us to endeavor to heal our society and our planet, to lay the foundations for a more just and peaceful world, and to commit ourselves seriously to pursuing a good that is truly common,” he said.
The World Day of Peace — instituted by St. Paul VI in 1968 — is celebrated each year on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The message is sent by the Vatican Secretariat of State to governments around the world.
The pope’s message for the 2023 World Day of Peace, the 56th celebration, is titled “No one can be saved alone: Combatting COVID-19 together, embarking together on paths of peace.”
In the text, Pope Francis included one paragraph about the ongoing war in Ukraine, which he described as “a setback for the whole of humanity.”
“At the very moment when we dared to hope that the darkest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic were over, a terrible new disaster befell humanity. We witnessed the onslaught of another scourge: another war, to some extent like that of COVID-19, but driven by culpable human decisions … Clearly, this is not the post-COVID era we had hoped for or expected,” Pope Francis said.
The pope also noted: “While a vaccine has been found for COVID-19, suitable solutions have not yet been found for the war.”
At a Dec. 16 Vatican press conference presenting the pope’s text, Cardinal Michael Czerny repeated the pope’s question: “What have we learned from COVID?”
The Canadian cardinal, who serves as the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, offered his own reflection on how the pandemic was handled.
Czerny said: “The world needed a well-supported international plan to deal with the pandemic. That was utterly lacking. Instead, massive misinformation, finger-pointing, false claims, and panic-mongering prevailed; while decision-makers gave higher priority to the claims of patent-holders than to people’s needs around the world.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.