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Pope Francis gives Address on World Day of Peace


Editor’s Note: The following is part of our daily holiday series celebrating “The Shared World.”

As we welcome in the new year, His Holiness Pope Francis is focusing on slavery as the theme for the World Day of Peace on New Years Day 2015. “Tragically,” the Pope writes, “the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love.” This oppression takes many forms.

From the millions of workers subjected to near-slave labor with insufficient pay or fear of deportation to the millions forced into the sex trade, slavery lives in many different forms. Unfortunately, the desire for monetary gain drives the bulk of these dehumanizing ventures and industries. The Pope writes that “one has the impression that [these forms of slaver] occur within a context of general indifference.”

Yet there are those who champion efforts “to break the invisible chains binding victims to traffickers and exploiters. This immense task,”the Holy Father writes, “which calls for courage, patience and perseverance, deserves the appreciation of the whole Church and society.” These people, these liberators, reflect Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon asking him to welcome his former slave Onesimus as a Christian, a brother through Christ, embracing fraternity. From varying walks of life, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and in an ever-shrinking world, brothers and sister in humanity.

As we begin a new year and wipe our slates clean, let us take the lessons from Saint Francis of a mission of presence and selfless compassion and apply them to the wishes of the Vicar of Christ. Let us not be shaped by indifference and ignorance, but instead help those who are who are oppressed by their fellow man. Whether that be volunteering in your local soup kitchen, donating to a charity, going on mission, or simply being kinder to your fellow man, make 2015 a year where the world is a better place to live under the light of God and among His children.

Advent may be coming to a close and our Shared World series along with it, but these acts of charity for our neighbor are needed year-round, not just during the holiday season. Take the initiative to make an impact in your community and others, sharing in the love of Christ in 2015 and the rest of our years.

Read the Pope’s New Years address in it’s entirety.

Photo by Catholic Church England and Wales, flickr Creative Commons.

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