In his homily for this year’s World Day of Peace on 1 January 2020, Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor has said that peace cannot and should not be taken for granted and is a precious value that requires cultivation and tending in every generation.

Speaking in All Saints’ Church, Ballymena, Co Antrim, Bishop Treanor said, “Citizens have made it clear that the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland is their abiding wish.

Bishop Treanor went on to reflect on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message this year in which he says the opposite of peace is war, which is fueled by poor relationships, abuse of power, fear of others and seeing diversity as an obstacle.

Relating the World Day of Peace message to Northern Ireland, Bishop Treanor said the peace process requires “enduring commitment”, that it is “a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honour the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance”.

He said, “We are called to listen to one another, and especially to victims of conflict in such a way that we achieve mutual understanding and esteem, and even to seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.”

He went on to say that while this is an ambitious, almost impossible objective, “the poignant examples of many of our fellow citizens who suffered indescribably during The Troubles have shown us the way. We stand in debt to the power and Christian example of their historic and eternal witness.”

Bishop Treanor went on to echo the sentiments in Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message in which he refers to peace as “a journey of hope to be undertaken in a spirit of dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”.

The bishop concluded by suggesting that the Church’s social teaching on democracy, the rule of law, and under-development, as highlighted in the World Day of Peace message, could be used during the annual Catholic Schools Week at the end of January 2020. This would help young people as they discern the “pertinence of their Christian faith and identity”.

“For them and for all of us, as we enter a New Year, let us keep in our hearts and minds the words of Pope Francis: ‘the culture of fraternal encounter shatters the culture of conflict’.”

The World Day of Prayer for Peace was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967 in response to Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, It is marked on 1 January each year and this year’s theme is “Peace as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”.

ENDS