Pope Francis called for more investment in education and less in weaponry in his 2022 World Peace Day message, released Tuesday.
In the message published Dec. 21, the pope said the world had witnessed a “significant reduction” in education funding in recent years, while military spending had soared beyond Cold War levels.
“It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry,” he wrote in the message, signed on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The World Day of Peace — instituted by St. Paul VI in 1968 — is celebrated each year on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The pope provides a message for the occasion, which is sent to foreign ministers around the world.
The pope’s message for the 2022 World Day of Peace, the 55th celebration, is entitled “Dialogue between generations, education, and work: tools for building lasting peace.”
In the text, Pope Francis outlined three “paths for building a lasting peace”: promoting dialogue between generations, investing in education, and improving labor conditions.
The pope called for a new alliance between the young and elderly to address the problems of isolation and self-absorption heightened by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Although technological and economic development has tended to create a divide between generations, our current crises show the urgent need for an intergenerational partnership,” he wrote.
“Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity, and dynamism of the young.”
The pope expressed the hope that a new dialogue between generations could become “the driving force behind a healthy politics.”
He lamented the tendency to see education and training as expenditures instead of investments. He said that they should be considered “the primary means of promoting integral human development,” because they help to shape free and responsible people.
He added that greater investment in education must be accompanied by the promotion of a “culture of care,” which could become “a common language working to break down barriers and build bridges.”
Support for education helps young people to take their rightful place in the labor market, he wrote, and build “a more habitable and beautiful world” through their work.
But he noted that COVID-19 had made it harder for the young to find stable employment.
“Millions of economic and productive activities have failed; short-term workers are increasingly vulnerable; many of those who provide essential services have an even lower public and political profile; and in many cases, distance teaching has led to a deficit in learning and delays in completing programs of study,” he said.
“Furthermore, young people entering the job market and recently unemployed adults presently face bleak prospects.”
Migrant workers, meanwhile, have been left exposed “to various forms of slavery and with no system of welfare to protect them.”
The pope observed that only one in three people working today “enjoys a system of social protection, or benefit from it only in limited ways,” while violence and organized crime are rising in many places.
“The only answer to this is an expansion of dignified employment opportunities,” the pope said. “Labor, in fact, is the foundation on which to build justice and solidarity in every community.”
He went on: “It is more urgent than ever to promote, throughout our world, decent and dignified working conditions, oriented to the common good and to the safeguarding of creation.”
“The freedom of entrepreneurial initiatives needs to be ensured and supported; at the same time, efforts must be made to encourage a renewed sense of social responsibility, so that profit will not be the sole guiding criterion.”
Pope Francis encouraged all Catholic workers and entrepreneurs to strive for “a fair balance between economic freedom and social justice,” drawing on the “sure guidelines” found in the Church’s social doctrine.
Concluding his message, the pope wrote: “To government leaders and to all those charged with political and social responsibilities, to priests and pastoral workers, and to all men and women of goodwill, I make this appeal: let us walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education, and work.”
“May more and more men and women strive daily, with quiet humility and courage, to be artisans of peace. And may they be ever inspired and accompanied by the blessings of the God of peace!”
At a Dec. 21 Vatican press conference presenting the pope’s text, Cardinal Peter Turkson said that the 2022 message highlighted Pope Francis’ conviction that every individual can contribute to building peace.
“This means that everyone has a fundamental role to play in a single great creative project to write a new page of history,” the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said. “A page full of hope, peace, reconciliation.”