The Vatican announced this week that Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated the 2012 World Day of Peace — January 1st, 2012 — to young people, with a special emphasis on the theme of social justice and peace. This is particularly timely in light of what has increasingly been termed the “Arab Spring” in Northern Africa and the Middle East, most notably in the peaceful protests and power transitions in Tunisia and Egypt. Young people played an especially pivotal role, engaging in new and developing forms of communication, technology and social media to help unify people and spread the message of nonviolent protest. The nexus of young adults, technology and Christian peacemaking in the form of nonviolence provides an excellent theme for the start of the next year and the focus of the World Day of Peace.
Pope Benedict XVI has chosen the following theme for the celebration of the 45th World Day of Peace of January 1, 2012: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”. The theme engages an urgent need in the world today: to listen to and enhance the important role of new generations in the realization of the common good, and in the affirmation of a just and peaceful social order where fundamental human rights can be fully expressed and realized.
In fact, there is a duty incumbent upon the present generation to prepare future ones, and creating for them the conditions that will allow these future generations to express freely and responsibly the urgency for a “new world.” The Church welcomes young people and sees them as the sign of an ever promising springtime, and holds out Jesus to them as the model of love who “makes all things new” (Ap. 21,5).
Those responsible for public policy are called to work for the creation of institutions, laws and environments of life that are permeated by a transcendent humanism that offers new generations opportunities to fully realize themselves (e.g. decent job, education etc.) and to build a civilization of fraternal love directed toward a more profound awareness of truth, freedom, of love and of justice for all persons.