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Messages of Joy, Hope, and Peace for 2024

January 16, 2024

From the Office for Social Ministry

He, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, gives us “power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). This is the joy that consoles hearts, renews hope and bestows peace. It is the joy of the Holy Spirit: the joy born of being God’s beloved sons and daughters. ~ Pope Francis, Christmas Day 2023

In a world beset by war and natural disasters, Pope Francis ended 2023 and began 2024 with messages about joy, hope and peace. On Christmas morning the Pope invited all to be instruments of the “good news of great joy” in the new year, especially with the most vulnerable. “From the manger, the Child Jesus asks us to be the voice of those who have no voice. The voice of the innocent children who have died for lack of bread and water; the voice of those who cannot find work or who have lost their jobs; the voice of those forced to flee their lands in search of a better future, risking their lives in grueling journeys and prey to unscrupulous traffickers.”  Our Holy Father focused on fundamental meaning of Christmas Day that we are all now children of God and therefore called to live in peace as brothers and sisters. The Pope underscored the need for peace all over the world and urged “political authorities and all persons of good will… to devise suitable ways to resolve social and political conflicts, to combat forms of poverty that offend the dignity of persons, to reduce inequality and to address the troubling phenomenon of migration movements.”  This message was at the heart of a letter in the first week of 2024 to policy makers in Washington DC from 50 nationwide Catholic organizations and religious congregations advocating for the basic human rights of all migrants and refugees. These faith-based leaders renewed the U.S. Bishops call to comprehensively reform the legal immigration system and humanely manage the U.S. borders especially with vulnerable people on the move seeking peace and a better future.

Also on January 1st, the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis repeated this appeal for a careful, hopeful, joyful approach in 2024 by encouraging all to reflect on the relation of peace with artificial intelligence.The pontiff pointed out the importance of artificial intelligence for the promotion of integral human development; however,he also raised critical questions about ethical issues saying: “Human intelligence is an expression of the dignity with which we have been endowed by the Creator, who made us in his own image and likeness and enabled us to respond consciously and freely to his love.The remarkable advances in new information technologies, particularly in the digital sphere, thus offer exciting opportunities and grave risks, with serious implications for the pursuit of justice and harmony among peoples.”Our Holy Father emphasized that we must consider short and long term consequences of digital technologies including the impact on individual lives and world peace.It is my prayer at the start of the New Year that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world, but will help put an end to wars and conflicts, and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family.The pope encouraged educational institutions to be mindful of the use of AI and the need for critical thinking and inclusion of diverse voices. “Users of all ages, but especially the young, need to develop a discerning approach to the use of data and content collected on the web or produced by artificial intelligence systems.He also believes more education and training in digital communication for the development of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence is a vital broader responsibility for all. “For peace is the fruit of relationships that recognize and welcome others in their inalienable dignity, and of cooperation and commitment in seeking the integral development of all individuals and peoples.” Pope Francis acknowledged that AI is can be used to promote human development through innovations in agriculture and education to benefit and uplift societies.In the end, the way we use it to include the least of our brothers and sisters, the vulnerable and those most in need, will be the true measure of our humanity.

For more on these messages for 2024  please visit the website of Vatican’s department for promoting Integral human development www.humandevelopment.va, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website www.usccb.org, the HOPE Border Institute website www.hopeborder.org, and the Office for Social Ministry website www.officeforsocialministy.org. In this new year of 2024 let us be living messages and instruments of joy, hope and peace. Mahalo!