Pope John XXIII

On April 11, 1963, Pope John XXIII issued his last papal encyclical titled Pacem in Terris, or Peace on Earth; a document in which he outlined the importance of working together to incite universal peace. Written in the midst of the Cold War, Pope John XXIII suggested that any conflicts that arise be dealt with through “negotiation and agreement, and not by recourse to arms.”

This encyclical was the first one to be addressed to all people of good will instead of only Catholic followers. It advocated for equality, human rights, and collaboration between states to aid one another in political and social matters.

Kathleen Maas Weigert, the Carolyn Farrell, BVM, professor of women and leadership and assistant to the provost for social justice initiatives, says this encyclical carries heavy historical importance, especially for a Jesuit university.

“As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, we have an obligation to keep educating each generation about the important documents that shape the work we do in the world, and this is one of them,” Mass Weigert says. “It’s a historic statement that we are all responsible for building peace.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Pacem in Terris, a handful of departments are hosting events to commemorate and enliven the message of Pope John XXIII.

On March 23, the community is invited to a working conference called “Building Peace in Chicago and Beyond,” featuring four interactive panels with Loyola faculty and Chicago community organizations from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons. Panelists will discuss ways the community can reduce violence and increase peace.

To help understand how this document affects the workplace, Mark Bosco, S.J., professor of theology and English and director of the Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, will moderate a panel called “Pacem in Terris and the Professional Life” on Wednesday, April 3, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Beane Hall. Following a presentation by Robert Ludwig, PhD, faculty in the Institute of Pastoral Studies, panelists from Loyola’s professional schools will discuss the encyclical and how its themes play a role in their professional lives.

The third event falls on the exact 50th anniversary of the issuance of the encyclical. On April 11, former Maine Senator George Mitchell will speak about “Making Peace by Negotiation and Agreement, and not by Recourse to Arms,” the title of his speech coming directly from a proposition from the encyclical. His presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. in Kasbeer Hall.

“I think it’s a great honor to have someone who was so intimately involved in one of the most difficult situations,” says Maas Weigert, speaking of Senator Mitchell’s involvement in negotiating peace agreements in northern Ireland and Egypt.

Maas Weigert says the encyclical and the events surrounding its 50th anniversary highlight the Jesuit mission and identity.

“The Jesuits as an order have spent a lot of their contemporary life thinking deliberately about how to educate around justice, which has non-violence as one of its telltale signs,” Maas Weigert says. “Here’s a document that speaks to the importance of that commitment.”

All events are free and open to the public, but registration is recommended for the working conference on March 23.

Please click here to learn more about the events and to register for “Building Peace in Chicago and Beyond.”