Fifty years ago today Pope John XXIII did something unusual, at least as far as popes are concerned: he gently placed a love letter in humanity’s trembling hands. Papal letters, before and since, have typically been meant only for Catholics, but Pacem in Terris — Peace on Earth — was addressed to any and all who cared to read it. Written as John was dying of stomach cancer, the encyclical was an urgent call for peace, human rights and justice interweaving the vision of a more humane order free from war with practical steps to move the world concretely in that direction.
In light of the unrelenting epidemic of war and injustice since 1963, John’s S.O.S. could reasonably be judged a failure. But such a conclusion would overlook the campaigns, movements and attitude shifts it has inspired since it appeared.
For more on this story, visit: Peace on earth, half a century later – Waging Nonviolence.