Forty years ago, on April 11 1963, Pope John XXIII released the encyclical Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth. 

The 40th anniversary of Pacem in Terris provides us with the opportunity to remember, celebrate and reflect on this document which still contributes to the Church’s understanding of peace.

“It was ground-breaking then and forty years on, its message is still relevant and significant”, said Bishop William Morris, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council Chairman.  “Pope John Paul II acknowledged its value in his message for World Peace Day in January this year.”

“This landmark document identified truth, justice, love and freedom as the key elements which enable peace to exist.  It gave specific endorsement to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It assumes that peaceful coexistence among nations and within nations is possible and indeed essential.

“Pope John XXIII’s message that ‘the world will not be in peace until peace has found a home in the heart of every person’ still calls us to work for peace by first establishing peace within ourselves and our surroundings.”

To mark this anniversary, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has produced a paper on Pacem in Terris that can be used for reflection and discussion.  It is available on the ACSJC website: