February 5, 2022
MAY THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
On January 11, 2022, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Most Reverend John C. Wester, issued an important Pastoral Letter entitled, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace.” The Archbishop invites the people of his native New Mexico and all concerned peoples to engage in a serious conversation concerning the destructive threats posed by the continuing build-up and maintenance of the nuclear stockpile throughout the World. He reminds us of the crucial role New Mexico plays in developing these weapons of assured total destruction of our common home, the Earth.
One can sense the Archbishop’s broken heart as he recounts his visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You can hear the cries of the children who experienced the new, bright light not of a new day but their death and destruction.
The Pastoral Letter takes us on a journey through Church teachings and the wisdom of many peacemakers until we finally arrive at the realization that mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent to aggression or a pathway to peace. Archbishop Wester encourages us to hear the pleas of Pope Francis, who boldly confronts the shortsightedness of peace through weapons and war. The Pastoral quotes Fratelli Tutti (October 2020), in which Pope Francis states:
“International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power… In this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative… With the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, let us establish a global fund that can finally put an end to hunger and favor development in the most impoverished countries.”
Archbishop Wester recalls the confiscation of land by the government to construct the nuclear laboratories and testing sites in New Mexico. He believes the legacy of this injustice against Indigenous peoples continues “the legacy of colonialism, racism, and systemic violence.”
This important Pastoral Letter is more than a letter to a local community in a particular place. Its passion, insight, and call to action invite people from the entire World to not only enter into a vibrant discussion about the threat of deteriorating stockpiles and runaway destructive development of killer weapons but to take a moral and uncompromising stance in the pursuit of peace based on true justice. We must come to our senses before we destroy ourselves and the World.
The Archbishop powerfully teaches, “We are the people who designed and built these weapons of mass destruction. We were the first to use them. We must be the people to dismantle them and make sure they are never used again.”
One quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower struck a chord. We would do well to heed his wisdom and insight: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.”
Blessings to you, Holy Community, for your courage to pursue peace based on justice. Thank you for your courage to engage the wisdom of the peacemakers in your pursuit of what is right, just, true, and beautiful.