2021 Ten Days of Prayer for Peace Protecting All Life Makes Peace A Message from the President of the Catholic […]
2021 Ten Days of Prayer for Peace
Protecting All Life Makes Peace
A Message from the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
“Protect all life” was the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Japan in November 2019. As we once again this year mark the Ten Days of Prayer for Peace by reflecting about peace, praying for peace and acting for peace, I want to share with you my conviction that protecting all life is the way to peace.
Now, in addition to armed conflicts and the plight of refugees around the world, a “new Cold War” confrontation between the United States and China is having a significant negative impact on the political and economic stability of the international community. We must strongly hope that countries will always make patient efforts to build better relations. In addition, though the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on January 22, 2021, the nuclear powers and countries like Japan under the “nuclear umbrella” claim it is unrealistic and therefore refuse to ratify it. I believe that Japan, the only country to suffer atomic bombings, should be among the first to ratify the treaty. I pray that many non-nuclear countries will ratify the treaty so that the nuclear powers will feel pressured to ratify it as well because confrontations between nations and weapons of mass destruction threaten peace. In countries such as Myanmar and Afghanistan, human rights are ignored by oppressive regimes and people are forced to live without peace. Are we sacrificing people to claims of national security and prosperity?
More than 189 million people have been infected by the coronavirus pandemic and as of mid-July more than four million have died. Countless people are in need. Unfortunately, not only infected people and those who care for them are subjected to discrimination and prejudice; even healthcare professionals who treat them suffer as well. Poorer countries are being put on the back end of vaccine allocation, increasing the risk to life and social disruption. We are all suffering. Prosperous nations must understand, help and support poorer ones. Because we depend upon countless others to live, we must protect not only our own lives but those of others as well. To do so, we need to share the spirit of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed jointly by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar on February 4, 2019, and the pope’s encyclical Fratelli tutti (October 3, 2020). We must respect the dignity of life of all people and deepen mutual trust as sisters and brothers.
No matter what the natural or social environment, our priority must be the protection of all life. In doing that, we hope to create peace. And life is more than individual life; we must keep in mind that our lives are interconnected. Therefore, protecting those connections will protect individual lives at the same time. Peace is the state in which individual lives are fulfilled, there is harmony, and all life is filled with happiness.