Pope: Peace is “contagious” and is built with dialogue and fraternity

Francis received in audience at the Vatican the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for the traditional New Year's vows. In a world marked by the pandemic, the Pope defended vaccination: they are not “magical instruments of healing” [...]

Pope: Peace is “contagious” and is built with dialogue and fraternity

Pandemic, migration and climate change: for Pope Francis, these are the main challenges that humanity must face today.

Upon receiving the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, the Pontiff delivered one of the most traditional speeches of the year, in which he analyzes the international situation.

In front of diplomats representing more than 180 countries, Francis recalled that the objective of diplomacy is “to help put aside the inconveniences of human coexistence, to favor harmony and to experience how, overcoming the shifting sands of conflict, we can rediscover the meaning of deep unity of reality”.

Vaccines: the most reasonable solution

Today, this deep unity is put to the severe test by the pandemic, which has claimed victims even among the diplomatic corps, such as the “missing Archbishop Aldo Giordano, Apostolic Nuncio”.

The Pope asked that the effort to continue to immunize the world population as much as possible, despite the inequality in access to vaccines. These, he said, are not “magical instruments of healing”, but “the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the coronavirus” and “fake news” and the ideological clash must be put aside:

“We all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and our health, which also translates into respect for the health of those who live next to us. Health care constitutes a moral obligation.”

overcoming indifference

Despite the restrictions, in 2021 audiences with heads of state in the Vatican resumed, as well as international apostolic travel. The Pontiff mentioned the meeting of reflection and prayer for Lebanon, and the visits to Iraq, Budapest, Slovakia, Cyprus and Greece.

Recalling his time on the island of Lesbos, he spoke of the drama of migration and the need to overcome indifference.

“In the face of these faces, we cannot remain indifferent, nor can we entrench ourselves behind walls and barbed wire on the pretext of defending security or a way of life.”

This is not just a problem for Europe, but also concerns Africa and Asia, as demonstrated by the exodus of Syrian, Afghan and countless Latin American refugees, especially Haitians.

Right to life and religious freedom

However, in the face of global challenges, solutions tend to be increasingly fragmented, Francisco found, pointing to a crisis of confidence in institutions. “On the contrary, it is necessary to recover the sense of our common identity as a single human family.”

Once again, he warned of the dangers of ideological colonization and single-mindedness and reaffirmed the existence of permanent values, such as the right to life “from conception to natural end”, and the right to religious freedom.

The care of our Common Home constitutes the third planetary challenge. Faced with a continuous and indiscriminate exploitation of resources, it is necessary to find common solutions and put them into practice. “No one can exempt themselves from this effort, as it interests and involves everyone equally.”

For Francisco, the shyness shown at COP26 must be overcome at COP27, scheduled for next November in Egypt.

endless conflicts

But in addition to global crises, there are regional ones, which have become “endless conflicts, which sometimes assume the appearance of real and proper proxy wars (proxy wars)”. They are: Syria, Yemen, Holy Land, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Caucasus and Myanmar.

In the case of America, the Pontiff's analysis was astute:

“Deep inequalities, injustices and endemic corruption, as well as the various forms of poverty that offend people's dignity, continue to fuel social conflicts also on the American continent, where increasingly strong polarizations do not help to solve real problems. and urgent needs of citizens, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

All conflicts are favored by the abundance of weapons available. Quoting Paul VI, he recalled that those who own weapons sooner or later end up using them, because “you cannot love with offensive weapons in your hands”.

Among the weapons that humanity has produced, nuclear weapons are of particular concern, the Pope said, reiterating the Holy See's contrary position: "Their possession is immoral."

Never abdicate the responsibility of educating

Convinced that “dialogue and fraternity are the two essential foci for overcoming the crises of the present moment”, the Holy Father concluded by reproposing two elements of the message for the World Peace Day 2022: education and work. And he expressed his pain at the abuses committed in educational centers, such as parishes and schools and the need for justice.

“Notwithstanding the gravity of such acts, no society can ever abdicate the responsibility to educate.”

When saying goodbye to the ambassadors, Francis quoted the prophet Jeremiah, who remembers that God has for us “plans of prosperity and not of calamity”.

“For this reason, we must not be afraid to make room for peace in our lives, cultivating dialogue and fraternity among us. Peace is a 'contagious' good, which spreads from the heart of those who desire it and aspire to live it embracing the whole world.”


The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 183 countries. To these are added the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Credit: Photo: Vatican News

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