Benedict to focus on heart of peace in 2007

Pope Benedict has announced that the focus for World Peace Day 2007 will be on human dignity which is under threat from aberrant ideologies as well as by scientific and technological distortions.

Catholic News Service reports that Benedict XVI has chosen "The human person: The heart of peace" as the theme for the 2007 World Peace Day.

The theme reflects the Pope's "conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for peace in the human family," said a Vatican announcement yesterday.

World Peace Day is celebrated on New Year's Day (1 January) each year. The pope's message for the celebration is released in early December and sent to heads of state around the world.

The Vatican statement on the Pope's chosen theme said human dignity is being "threatened by aberrant ideologies, attacked by a distorted use of science and technology, (and) contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles."

Human dignity must be promoted and defended, it said, because human dignity "is the seal of God," who created men and women in his likeness; it is "the sign of the common destiny of humanity (and) the foundation of love for God and for one's neighbour."

Peace is threatened when technology makes human life a commodity or "lifestyles that are disordered or contrary to human dignity" lead people to deny that the traditional family is the foundation of a strong society, it said.

"The Church's mission is to announce 'The Gospel of Life,' the centrality of the human person in the universe and the love of God for humanity," it said, referring to Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical.

The church's mission includes proclaiming the dignity of each person, the obligation to work for the common good and the need for individual human actions to correspond to "the order impressed by God on the universe," the statement said.

Every offence against a person "is a threat to peace," it said. "Every threat to peace is an offence against the truth of the person and of God. The human person is the heart of peace."

Meanwhile, the Border Mail reports that Associate Prof Tracey Rowland has shed some light on the Pope's theology to the participants of Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy's annual conference at the Commercial Club in Albury, NSW, on Wednesday.

Melbourne-based Associate Prof Rowland met the German-born Pope when he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. Oxford University will soon publish Prof Rowland's book, The keys to the theology of Benedict XVI, also the subject of her public lecture last night.

Prof Rowland acknowledged in her presentation that Pope Benedict had been one of the Church's most influential thinkers of the past 50 years. Although approaching 80, his papacy could change the way Catholics worship, including the issue of which way a priest faces during Mass.

Vatican announces World Peace Day theme with focus on human dignity (Catholic News Service 13/7/06)
Insights into pontiff's mind (Border Mail 13/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Days of Peace
Message for World Day of Peace, 2006 (Holy See)
John Paul II Institute, Melbourne

Pope's Peace Day message that violence can't solve problems (CathNews, 17/12/04)
Catholic students choose cardinal and academic as patrons (CathNews, 14/3/06)

14 Jul 2006