A “culture of care” must be adopted in order to create a pathway to peace, Pope Francis emphasized in his message for the 2021 World Day of Peace.

Observed each year on Jan. 1, the pontiff’s message for this annual observance was released in early December. It urges “men and women of goodwill” to commit themselves “to advance on the path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.”

Highlighting the disruptions, challenges and sufferings resulting from the global pandemic, Pope Francis celebrated the ways in which “love and solidarity” were expressed in working together to care for those most affected by COVID-19.

Yet, he lamented “a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia” that was also manifest during the past year, urging readers to follow another, better path in 2021 – “a culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”

Pope Francis built his case for why embracing a culture of care is a biblical action by citing numerous Scriptural references, including:

  • Humanity’s charge to care for the earth (Genesis 2).
  • A Jubilee year to remove the burden of indebtedness (Deuteronomy 15)
  • The Hebrew prophets’ call to care for the least of these (Amos 2; Isaiah 58).
  • Expressions of care observed in the life and ministry of Jesus from his Nazareth sermon (Luke 4) and his healing of both physical and spiritual sickness to his parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and identifying himself with the Good Shepherd (John 10).
  • The early church’s sharing of resources to ensure no one was in need (Acts 4).

The social doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church provides a “‘grammar’ of care,” he said, which lays out a path for humanity in creating this culture of care through primary actions:

  • Promoting the dignity and rights of each person.
  • Advancing the common good.
  • Expressing solidarity with others.
  • Protecting the created world.

Describing these four actions as a compass to guide our way, Pope Francis urged everyone “to take this compass in hand and to become a prophetic witness of the culture of care, working to overcome the many existing social inequalities.”

He concluded, “May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance.

“May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way; instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, ‘to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another.’”

The full message is available here.

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