Most Rev. Dr. James Thoppil, the Bishop of Kohima, on 20th October 2020 called upon the faithful of the Diocese with a special circular with a particular intention and request. No doubt we are going through very difficult times due to problem from various quarters. At the world level we are still grappling with the onslaught of Corona virus pandemic. We have no clue to the future that awaits us. At the national level we are faced with many regulations and laws passed summarily without proper consultation and consensus, such as NRC, CAA 2019, Famers Bill 2020, NEP 2020, FCRA amendments, etc. In the state level we are in an uncertain and fluctuating state regarding the final solution although many consultative and official meetings have been going on for the past many years. We, as a diocese of Kohima, have been praying the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi for peace and reconciliation in Nagaland since 2015.
For us the most important issue in our mind is for an honorable and just conclusion to the protracted Naga issues. On October 15, the Catholic Association of Nagaland (CAN) through its Secretary General published an article titled “Nagaland Catholic Community stands for Just Peace” (The Morung Express, page 1). I would like to develop this theme of Just Peace from the Catholic perspective and appeal to all for special prayers for a just peace in Nagaland.
The Church sees peace as the legacy of Jesus, the ‘Prince of Peace’. Jesus also said blessed are the peace makers (Mat 5:9). Peace is an outcome of divine love and order and it has a much broader vision than merely the absence of armed conflict. True peace is of God, so it involves the harmony of all people pursuing justice for all. In this way peace is, at its heart, a reflection of God’s Kingdom. Popes John XXIII and Paul VI and Vatican II proclaimed in Pacem in Terris, Populorum Progressio and Gaudium et Spes that peace cannot exist where there is injustice, inequality between people and nations (economic or otherwise), thirst for power, pursuit of endless profit as an end in itself, nor when there is an arms race. Ultimately, whenever there is disregard for or breach of the commandment to ‘love our neighbour’ there cannot have peace; not the peace God intends for us. More recently, Pope Francis has emphatically reminded us again that caring for Creation and cruelly destroying the resources of poorer nations and communities also stands in the way of true peace.
A holistic idea of peace as mentioned above is often called ‘positive peace’, ‘just peace’ or ‘sustainable peace’ by scholars and practitioners. Though it is often without the religious or Christian perspective this secular view largely converges with the Church belief that peace needs many elements to truly be called peace.
Though just peace is first and foremost God’s gift, yet it is the fruit of human endeavour to translate God’s commandment to love. Love of God is manifested and exemplified in Jesus who gave his life for others. Just peace can reign only when rulers and leaders strive sincerely and wholeheartedly for the welfare of people keeping the universal principle of love, giving up selfishness and greed, desire for domination and subjugation, exploitation and discrimination. Just peace is not achieved by violence and war but dialogue and communication. We, as Catholic Community of Nagaland urge our leaders to strive for just peace through peaceful and non-violent means, giving up all forms of divisions and petty difference, forgiving and forgetting, sharing and caring, speaking in one united voice in love, respecting one another and striving for the common good of all, motivated and principled by the gospel values and teaching of Church. It is a process which needs to be supported by grace which is God’s gift that comes through our prayers. In this I joins with St. Paul who urged us, “… that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way … I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling” (1 Tim 2: 1-2, 8 RSV version).
At his critical juncture we need the grace and blessing of God to take right and meaningful decision that will usher in peace and prosperity for our people. We rely on God and on His mercy and grace. He is our solace in all situations and circumstances. Mary is the first and the greatest disciple who continuously intercedes with her son, Jesus, for the welfare of human being.
Therefore, he requested every one of to pray the Rosary for the motherly intercession of Mary on 31st October, the day to conclude the month of Rosary. The Rosary prayer is a most powerful weapon to overcome both spiritual and physical enemies we face. He urged to observe 31st October as special day for prayer and fasting to find JUST SOLUTION to the problems confronting at all levels and particularly for peace and reconciliation in Nagaland and thus usher in just peace for our people.
Fr. Victor Renthungo
Secretary to Bishop
Diocese of Kohima
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