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Young people hold a flag reading peace in Italian at at the Vatican in August (CNS/Lola Gomez)

If people can learn how to inflict suffering on others with ever more deadly weapons, they can also learn to stop doing so, Pope Francis said in a message marking International Literacy Day. Source: NCR Online.

“If we can hurt someone, a relative or friend, with harsh words and vindictive gestures, we can also choose not to do so,” he added. “Learning the lexicon of peace means restoring the value of dialogue, the practice of kindness and respect for others.”

Marking International Literacy Day, Pope Francis sent a message to Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO, encouraging efforts to teach reading and writing to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who do not have basic literacy skills. He also focused on the education needed to help all people contribute to building sustainable and peaceful societies.

The papal message, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, was published by the Vatican on September 8, International Literacy Day.

UNESCO’s mission, he said, is to promote peace “in people’s minds and hearts through education, science, culture and communication. These remain the only lawful and effective ‘weapons’ to use for investing more resources and energies in building hope for a better future”.

In addition to teaching the language of peace and dialogue, the papal message urged the international community to do more to overcome the “digital divide” of extremely limited access to the internet and to teach “digital literacy” because many people “are harmed by the divisiveness and hatred found on ‘digital highways’.”

Finally, the message called for efforts to promote “literacy for integral ecology,” teaching people to care for the environment and for one another, which “can inspire in the long term a genuinely sustainable policy and economy for the quality of life of all the peoples of the earth, especially the most disadvantaged and those most at risk”.


Pope calls for literacy in peacemaking, care for the environment (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via NCR Online )


Pope: ‘Greater literacy promotes sustainable and peaceful societies’ (Vatican News)