This week marks 50 years since the publication of Pacem in Terris, the landmark encyclical by Pope John XXIII that many consider to be his "last will and testament." He wrote this major document on peace shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we came very close to mutually assured destruction. In fact, he had acted as a sort of "middle man" between Khruschev and Kennedy during the crisis so he had time to reflect on the urgent need to promote and seek peace. Pacem in Terris is also the first papal encyclical addressed to all people of good will, rather than just to the Bishops and clergy or people of the Catholic Church. This strikes me as very significant and again I suspect comes from his own experience. After all, this is the man who called the Second Vatican Council and opened wide the windows of the Church on the modern world.
“The consequence is clear; people are living in the grip of constant fear. They are afraid that at any moment the impending storm may break upon them with horrific violence. And they have good reasons for their fear, for there is certainly no lack of such weapons.” (PT 111)