Pontiff's Message to Justice and Peace Council

«The Great Human Family Awaits … Words of Hope»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent today to the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, on the occasion of the dicastery’s plenary assembly. The two-day meeting ends Friday.
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To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
1. On the occasion of the plenary assembly, I would like first of all to thank the dicastery for its manifold endeavor to help the whole Church, particularly this Apostolic See, in a renewed evangelization of the social realm at the start of the third millennium. Not only individual persons, but peoples and the great human family await — in face of injustices and acute inequalities — words of hope, fullness of life, pointing to the One who can save humanity from its radical evils.
2. As I reminded in my encyclical «Caritas in Veritate» — following in the footsteps of the Servant of God Paul VI — the proclamation of Jesus Christ is «the first and principal factor of development» (No. 8). Thanks to it, in fact, one can walk on the path of integral human growth with the ardor of charity and the wisdom of truth in a world in which, often, lies threaten man, society and participation. It is by living «charity in truth» that we will be able to offer a more profound look to understand the great social questions and indicate some essential perspectives for their solution in a fully human sense. Only with charity sustained by hope and illumined by the light of faith and reason, is it possible to achieve objectives of man’s integral liberation and universal justice.

The life of communities and of each of the believers — nourished by assiduous meditation on the Word of God, by regular participation in the sacraments and by communion with wisdom that comes from above — grows in its capacity of prophecy and renewal of cultures and public institutions. The ethos of peoples can thus enjoy a truly solid foundation, which reinforces social consensus and sustains procedural rules. The commitment to build the city leans on consciences led by the love of God and, because of this, naturally oriented to the objective of a good life, structured on the primacy of transcendence.

«Caritas in veritate in re sociali»: it seemed opportune to me to describe thus the social doctrine of the Church (cf. ibid., No. 5), in keeping with a more genuine rootedness — Jesus Christ, the Trinitarian life that he gives us — and according to all its force capable of transfiguring reality. We are in need of this social teaching, to help our civilizations and our own human reason to understand all the complexity of reality and the grandeur of the dignity of every person. Precisely in this connection, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church helps to perceive the richness of the wisdom that comes from the experience of communion with the Spirit of God and of Christ and the sincere acceptance of the Gospel.
3. In the encyclical «Caritas in Veritate,» I pointed out fundamental problems that affect the destiny of peoples and global institutions, in addition to the human family. The upcoming anniversary of the encyclical «Mater et Magistra» of Blessed John XXIII invites us to consider with constant attention the social, sectorial, and national inequalities between resources and poor populations, between technology and ethics. In the present context of globalization, these imbalances have not disappeared. The individuals have changed and the dimensions of the problems, but the coordination among the states — often inadequate, because it is oriented to the quest for a balance of power, more than to solidarity — leaves room for renewed inequalities, to the danger of the predominance of economic and financial groups that dictate — and attempt to do so continually — the agenda of politics, to the detriment of the universal common good.
4. In regard to an ever more interconnected social question in its diverse realms, the commitment to the formation of the Catholic laity in the social doctrine of the Church seems particularly urgent. They, as free and responsible citizens, must commit themselves to promote a correct configuration of social life, in respect of the legitimate autonomy of earthly realities.

The social doctrine of the Church thus represents the essential reference for the plan and social action of the lay faithful, in addition to one’s own lived spirituality, which is nourished and framed in ecclesial communion: communion of love and truth, communion in the mission.
5. The «Christifideles laici,» however, precisely because they take energies and inspiration from communion with Jesus Christ, living integrated with the other ecclesial components, must find by their side priests and bishops capable of offering a tireless work of purification of consciences, together with indispensable support and spiritual help for the coherent testimony of the laity in the social realm. Hence, of fundamental importance is a profound understanding of the social doctrine of the Church, in harmony with all her theological patrimony and strongly rooted in the affirmation of the transcendent dignity of man, in the defense of human life from its conception to its natural death and of religious liberty.

Understood thus, the social doctrine must also be inscribed in the pastoral and cultural preparation of those who, in the ecclesial community, are called to the priesthood. It is necessary to prepare lay faithful capable of dedicating themselves to the common good, especially in the more complex realms such as the world of politics. It is also urgent to have pastors that, with their ministry and charism, are able to contribute to the invigoration and diffusion, in society and in institutions, of the good life according to the Gospel, with respect for the responsible liberty of the faithful and of their own role of pastors, which in these areas have a connected responsibility. The already mentioned «Mater et Magistra» proposed, almost 50 years ago, a true and proper mobilization, according to charity and truth, on the part of associations, movements, Catholic organizations and those of Christian inspiration, so that all the faithful, with commitment, liberty and responsibility, study, spread and carry out the social doctrine of the Church.
6. Hence, my desire is that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace continue its work of aid to the ecclesial community and all its components. The dicastery must therefore continue this work not only in the elaboration of updating the social doctrine of the Church, but also in its experimentation, with that method of discernment that I indicated in
«Caritas in Veritate,» according to which, living in communion with Jesus Christ and among ourselves, we are «found» either by the truth of salvation, or by the truth of a world that has not been created by us, but which has been given to us as home to share in fraternity. In order to globalize the social doctrine of the Church, it seems opportune to multiply the centers and institutes that are dedicated to its study, diffusion and realization throughout the world.
7. In the wake of the promulgation of the compendium and of the encyclical «Caritas in Veritate,» it is natural that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace dedicates itself to further reflection on the elements of novelty and, in collaboration with other individuals, to the search for the more adequate ways to convey the contents of the social doctrine, not only of the Christian traditional formative and educational itineraries of every order and degree, but also of the great centers of formation of world thought — such as the great organs of secular press, the universities and the numerous centers of economic and social reflection — which in recent times have developed in every corner of the world.
8. May the Virgin Mary, honored by the Chr
istian people as «Speculum Iustitiae» [mirror of justice] and «Regina Pacis» [queen of peace], protect us and obtain for us with her heavenly intercession the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue dedicating ourselves with generosity to the realization of a new evangelization of the social realm.
On expressing once again my gratitude for the work carried out by the dicastery in all its components, I wish it fruitful work and impart willingly to you the apostolic blessing.
In the Vatican, Nov. 3, 2010
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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