In message for Diwali, Vatican officials emphasize ‘pillars’ of peace

Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, now president of Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke at a news conference at the Vatican in this Oct. 4, 2020, file photo. On Oct. 17, 2023, officials of the dicastery sent a message to Hindus preparing to celebrate Diwali, which begins Oct. 24 in most countries. (CNS Photo by Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY — Religions and religious leaders contribute to peacemaking by teaching members to live lives marked by truth, justice, love and freedom, officials of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue said in their annual message to Hindus.

“May God, supreme Light, illumine your hearts and minds, bless your homes and neighborhoods, and fill your lives with peace and happiness,” the dicastery’s prefect and secretary wrote to Hindus around the world preparing to celebrate Diwali, a festival focusing on the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

The message from Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, dicastery prefect, and Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku, dicastery secretary, was released by the Vatican Nov. 7. Hindus in India and most other parts of the world will celebrate Diwali Nov. 12.

The Vatican officials noted that 2023 is the 60th anniversary of St. John XXIII’s encyclical, “Pacem in Terris,” (“Peace on Earth”), which they described as “a timely, impassioned and much-needed plea to world leaders and people to work together for peace” at a time when the world seemed to be “on the brink of nuclear war.”

“Pope John XXIII, now a revered saint, prophetically stated that ‘peace is but an empty word if it does not rest upon … an order that is founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom,’ ” they said.

In the 60 years since the encyclical’s publication, the world has not known peace, the officials said, and yet religious believers “must not yield to pessimism, discouragement and renunciation.”

Instead, they said, people of good will must work to strengthen the “four pillars” of peace that St. John wrote about: truth, justice, love and freedom.

Those pillars mean peacemaking includes defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, fighting intolerance and all forms of discrimination and injustice “directed toward those who are ethnically, culturally, economically, linguistically and religiously diverse, or against the more vulnerable members of society,” the Vatican officials wrote.

“Joining hands with followers of other religious traditions and with all people of good will,” they said, “may we work together to build our world on the lasting foundations of truth, justice, love and freedom, so that everyone can enjoy genuine and lasting peace!”

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