Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, gave the following
address to the opening session of the First World Congress of Ecclesial
Organizations Working for Justice and Peace, held in Rome on Wednesday,
27 October 2004.
Cardinal Renato Martino has already welcomed you at the beginning of
this Congress. I too wish to express cordial greetings to all of you; I
am pleased to be here with you who work in various parts of the world to
spread the Gospel message of justice and peace.
You are all welcome in Rome. This is a city that prompts thoughts of
international cooperation in minds and hearts. Peter came here, by
divine inspiration, to form a centre from which the Gospel of Christ
would radiate out into the world. From here, over the course of 2,000
years of history, there has spread to every part of the earth the song
that resounded over the cave in Bethlehem: "Peace to people of good
Today too the Church is committed to this noble mission, with your
intelligent and generous cooperation. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II
is grateful to you for this, and he sends you his heartfelt Blessing.
In my intervention this afternoon I intend to examine with you the
various aspects of the Church's commitment to justice and peace in
relation to her vaster commitment to preaching the Gospel of Christ to
all people of every time, and to sanctifying them internally with his
1. The Church's mission
The Lord Jesus founded the Church for the purpose of continuing his
work of salvation over centuries. The Church's objective, in accordance
with the divine plan, is the salvation of men and women; this objective
has an eschatological character and cannot be fully achieved except in
the world to come.1
By reason of her duties and competence, the Church is both the sign
and the guarantee of the transcendental character of the human person.2
Even if salvation will not be fully attained until the next life, it
nonetheless embraces the whole person and has an integral dimension that
includes the natural order, which has been taken on and elevated by
The Church's mission, then, does not entail a moving away from the
world; rather, the Church "goes forward together with humanity and
experiences the same earthly lot which the world does. She serves as a
leaven and as a kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in
Christ and transformed into God's family.... Pursuing the saving purpose
which is proper to her, the Church not only communicates divine life to
men but in some way casts the reflected light of that life over the
entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the
dignity of the person, by the way in which it strengthens the seams of
human society and imbues the everyday activity of men with a deeper
meaning and importance".3
In this sense the Church is called to serve the world of men and
women in a manner consonant with her nature as willed by her Founder.
The Church's nature is understood in the light of the intimate bond
that exists between the order of Creation and that of Redemption. These
are two different but not separate spheres.
The Apostle Paul, speaking to the Colossians of the sublime dignity
of Christ, writes: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born
of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on
earth... all things were created through him and for him. He is before
all things and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:15-17). The
Incarnation of the Eternal Word shows the intimate connection between
the two levels; everything has been created and redeemed by him,
everything holds together in him, and everything finds its final purpose
Christ has entrusted to the Church the task of continuing his
mission. Therefore, the Church has the right, and at the same time the
duty, to evangelize and to sanctify the whole of human life, including
the social sphere; the Lord has established the Church as "the universal
sacrament of salvation".4
Her universality or catholicity must not be understood only in a
numeric or geographic sense, for it also refers to all people and,
therefore, to social relationships. Catholicity is one of the essential
marks of the Church and her mission: "This characteristic of
universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord
himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and
with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to
its source in Christ, with him as its head and united in his Spirit".5
2. The goods of justice and peace in the Old Testament
The goods concerning social relationships are part of the goods
belonging to humanity. They are goods frequently referred to in Sacred
Scripture to show their connection with the work of Redemption. In fact,
the first duty in the temporal order that the Creator entrusts to man is
that of cultivating and developing the goods of the earth, so that they
may provide growth and fullness for the human family (cf. Gn 1:28;
As far as the values of justice and peace are concretely concerned,
it must be emphasized that Sacred Scripture applies a very broad meaning
to these, expressed by concepts that we commonly intend in using these
words and by concepts that refer to the supernatural order, such as
sanctity and fullness of life.
The Old Testament often recalls the need to practice justice in
relation to one's neighbour (cf. Dt 24:14-15; Ps 106:3; Prv 11:1, 6),
and teaches that worshiping God, fasting and all other religious
practices are not pleasing to the Lord unless they are accompanied by
justice and mercy, particularly towards the neediest (cf. Sir 5:6, 8; Is
58:6-10; Am 5:21-24). Fidelity to this divine plan will be a source of
enduring tranquility because God will remove evil and make it possible
to live in peace (cf. Ps 85:9, 11; Zep 3:13, 14, 18); a peace that will
embrace all the peoples of the earth (cf. Is 2:2-4; Mi 4:1-4).
Peace will be complete in the Messianic Kingdom (cf. Is 9:5-6,
11:6-10; Zec 9:10), which is a Kingdom of justice, love and peace; it
will be definitive only in the world to come. This, however, must not
lead to discouragement; on the contrary, it should be an incentive to
work even harder in our commitment to justice and peace.
3. In the New Testament
The teachings of the Ancient Law are taken up and brought to
perfection by Jesus.
At the beginning of his preaching the Lord teaches that with his coming
the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled.
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went
to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up
to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He
opened the book and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of
the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to
the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and
recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are
oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord'. And he closed
the book and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes
of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them,
'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'" (Lk 4:16-21).
The Incarnation of the Son of God produces effects not only in the
spiritual and transcendent realm, but also in the social and material
sphere. Jesus, when he speaks of the final judgment, plainly states that
this will depend on what each of us has done for those who are neediest
(cf. Mt 25:31-46).
This teaching finds clear confirmation in the controversy concerning
the payment of taxes to Caesar (cf. Mt 22:15-21 and parallels). Here,
Jesus indicates the relation that exists between social-political
actions and supernatural life: they are two distinct levels, which also
explains the impossibility of attaining perfect justice and definitive
peace on this
Between the two levels, however, there exists a mutual dependence,
which shows the need for social commitment arising also from religious
Therefore, the Lord commands not only to give to God what is God's
(that is, everything), but also to give to Caesar what is Caesar's, that
is to say, to live completely the requirements of justice and peace in
This doctrine has been developed further by the Apostles; St John
writes, "By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are
the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor
he who does not love his brother" (I Jn 3:10).
4. In the Church's Magisterium
The Church Fathers and the Magisterium handed on this teaching, which
has been faithfully lived out in the lives of so many Christians over
the centuries. Blessed John XXIII recalls this fact at the beginning of
his Encyclical Mater et Magister.
After stating that the Church's principal concern is the eternal
salvation of men and women, but also their temporal good, Pope John goes
on to add: "Small wonder, then, that the Catholic Church, in imitation
of Christ and in fulfilment of his commandment, relies not merely upon
her teaching to hold aloft the torch of charity, but also upon her own
widespread example. This has been her course now for nigh on 2,000
years, from the early ministrations of her deacons right down to the
present time. It is a charity which combines the precepts and practice
of mutual love. It holds fast to the twofold aspect of Christ's command
to give, and summarizes the whole of the Church's social teaching and
Ten years later, in a different way, Paul VI repeated: "It is
everyone's duty, but especially that of Christians, to work with energy
for the establishment of universal brotherhood, the indispensable basis
for authentic justice and the condition for enduring peace".9
Such has been the commitment of true Christians throughout history
and such must be our commitment, which is perhaps even more necessary in
today's world. Populorum Progressio, in fact, had already
observed that the world was sick;10 since then, the illness
seems to have grown worse and injustice and violence have multiplied.
All we need to do is to think of places where humiliation has become
a way of life; areas where war, guerrilla tactics and terrorism are
increasing; refugee camps; people forced into exile; racial and
religious discrimination; workplaces where it seems that the employees
are used as a means; the lack of political freedom and the freedom to
form unions; and so many modes of behaviour where equity and peace are
The Holy Father John Paul II, commemorating the Encyclical of Paul
VI, writes: "In today's world, including the world of economics, the
prevailing picture is one destined to lead us more quickly towards death
rather than one of concern for true development which would lead all
towards a 'more human' life, as envisaged by the Encyclical Populorum
5. The time for action
Certainly, this negative scenario cannot make us forget that many
parts of the world have seen improvements in economic, health and work
conditions, and even in cultural and spiritual conditions. There are,
however, still many people subjected to inhuman exploitation.12
The scope of this exploitation cannot be seen only as a statistic to
be studied antiseptically. Behind the statistics there are human beings
with their inalienable dignity; there is a concrete person, created and
redeemed by the Lord; there is a brother or sister of ours and we are
all responsible for his or her destiny.13
The appeal made by Paul VI is urgent: "It is to all Christians that
we address a fresh and insistent call to action.... Let each one examine
himself, to see what he has done up to now and what he ought to do. It
is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying
injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real
weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier
awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action. It is too
easy to throw back on others responsibility for injustice, if at the
same time one does not realize how each one shares in it personally, and
how personal conversion is needed first".14
In the words that follow, John Paul II
although speaking to the lay faithful
also emphasizes the need for a serious social commitment on the part of
all: "A new state of affairs today, both in the Church and in social,
economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency
for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always
unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not
permissible for anyone to remain idle".15
6. The religious inspiration
The commitment to justice and peace is an integral part of the
demands made by the Gospel. Consequently, this commitment must be taken
on not for ideological reasons,16 but as the result of a
profound identification with Jesus.
In social questions, and more specifically in the promotion of peace
and justice, it needs to be remembered that who a Christian is and what
he does must be manifestations of the Good News of Jesus. Jesus has
united this Good News to a mission of liberation and salvation in every
— in the family, in the workplace, in politics, etc.
When Christians undertake action and neglect their personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, they do not do more for the good of
society but less.17 The more the action of Christians in the
world is deeply rooted in the supernatural, the more effective it will
This is the case for all the faithful.19 But the
commitment in the social sphere is particularly important for the laity,
who have received from the Lord the specific vocation to "seek the
kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them
the plan of God".20
In fulfilling their Christian mission through their secular duties,
the laity must know, and demonstrate with their lives, how important
their personal efforts aimed at holiness are, both for facing social
realities and for improving them. Only someone who has been made new in
Christ is able to bring about the authentic renewal of social
institutions and to make a serious contribution to the development of
justice and peace in his own environment.
7. The field of action
In this regard, I believe that our action must be directed to three
objectives: the person, institutions and culture.
I have put the person first because unless there is inner growth in
the person, in his moral and religious aspects, social renewal will not
be long-lasting, as history has constantly shown; and it is also true
that the lack of social commitment is evidence of an impoverished
spiritual life. Institutions, then, must become the object of special
attention, lest they be easily overwhelmed by the dominating culture.
A recent important Document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith emphasizes that "the presentation of the fruits of the
spiritual, intellectual and moral heritage of Catholicism in terms
understandable to modern culture is a task of great urgency today.... It
is insufficient and reductive to think that the commitment of Catholics
in society can be limited to a simple transformation of structures,
because if at the basic level there is no culture capable of receiving,
justifying and putting into practice positions deriving from faith and
morals, the changes will always rest on a weak foundation".21
The cultural commitment of Christians and of all people of good will
is therefore important, for it allows the spreading of a just and
peaceful mentality, the only mentality capable of consolidating justice
and peace in society in a lasting manner.
8. The work of the hierarchy
The commitment of individual members of the faithful for the
promotion of social values does not eliminate the commitment of the
Bishops. Throughout history ecclesial institutions have also worked for
the promotion of justice and peace, and more generally for the good of
persons and of the societies in which they live. And this was done not
only from a theoretical and doctrinal point of view, but also from a
practical point of view.
Leo XIII emphasized how the Christian religion had provided for "all
things which are held to be advantageous in a State; so much so, indeed,
that, according to St Augustine, one cannot see how it could have
offered greater help in the matter of living well and happily, had it
been instituted for the single object of procuring or increasing those
things which contributed to the conveniences or advantages of this
In the last century these efforts have been greatly multiplied. In
the area of peace founded on justice, we need only to think of the
different interventions made by Leo XIII, the appeals made by Benedict
XV to belligerent countries in the First World War and the efforts of
Pius XI to spread a pacification of spirits, the lack of which gave rise
to the Second World War.
After this, Pius XII engaged in far-ranging pastoral and doctrinal
activity on behalf of justice and peace in every sector of society and
in the whole world, and the brief Pontificate of BI. John XXIII also
became a shining period in the Church's commitment to peace.
With all these precedents, it is natural that the Second Vatican
Council would dedicate part of a chapter of one of its important
Documents, the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, to the
promotion of peace," in addition to various places in other Documents.
The Council Fathers did not limit themselves to making a theoretical
presentation in the Pastoral Constitution, but they saw also the
appropriateness of establishing an organism that would promote values
consistent with peace.
The Council, "considering the immensity of the hardships which still
afflict the greater part of mankind today, regards it as most opportune
that an organism of the universal Church be set up in order that both
the justice and love of Christ toward the poor might be developed
everywhere. The role of such an organism would be to stimulate the
Catholic community to promote progress in needy regions and
international social justice".24
9. The establishment of "Iustitia et Pax"
Paul VI accepted this suggestion and established the Pontifical
Commission "Iustitia et Pax" with the Motu Proprio Catholicam
Christi Eccelesiae of 6 January 1967; almost 10 years later, on 10
December 1976, he gave the Commission its definitive mandate with the
Motu Proprio Iustitiam et Pacem. The reform of the Roman Curia
brought about by John Paul II, to which the Apostolic Constitution
Pastor Bonus of 28 June 1988 is devoted, transformed the Pontifical
Commission into the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,
reconfirming its functions.
I mention these details not because we are participating in a
Congress organized by this Pontifical Council, but because it seems to
me that the goals, instruments and method of this Council can serve as a
not to be copied mechanically but to be followed creatively
for ecclesial organizations working for justice and peace.
10. The goals of the Council
Concretely, the Constitution Pastor Bonus, in article 142,
indicates the goal: "The goal of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace is to promote justice and peace in the world in accordance with
the Gospel and the social doctrine of the Church".
The clarification that justice and peace are to be promoted according
to the Gospel and the social doctrine of the Church is important, so as
not to promote an ideology, as was earlier said, of justice and peace
only in name, but not in reality. I note that this is the line followed
by the Pontifical Council, as witnessed in the very recent Document, the
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
It is good for all ecclesial organizations working in this field to
be careful not to distort this reality, for fidelity to man, fidelity to
the Church and fidelity to Jesus Christ.
Article 143 of the above-mentioned Apostolic Constitution summarized
in three paragraphs what must be done to achieve the indicated goal:
a) The first paragraph indicates the need for thorough study of the
Church's social doctrine;25 your organizations, too, must
strive seriously to know and put into practice the Church's social
doctrine. I shall not dwell further on this point since part of your
work these days is precisely to do this.
b) The second paragraph calls for collecting information and the
results of research concerning justice and peace;26 this too
is part of your activity during these days.
c) The third paragraph presents the commitment to increasing
awareness of the duty to foster peace.27
In this regard it is necessary to reevaluate the celebration of the
World Day of Peace, recalling and concretely pursuing the purpose for
which Paul VI established it: to prompt the faithful to pray for peace
and to be true peacemakers. This purpose was repeated by John Paul II in
his first Message for the World Day of Peace, in which he recalled:
"Peace is our work: it calls for our courageous and united action. But
it is inseparably and above all a gift of God: it requires our prayer.
Christians must be in the first rank of those who pray daily for peace".28
It is good to emphasize, therefore, that this celebration must be a
day of prayer to ask the Lord to give all people a peaceful and
peacemaking heart, and to grant that they may have the strength and
courage needed to work tirelessly for peace. It would also be very
appropriate that the actions to be engaged in for peace should possibly
be carried out along the lines of the annual Message, which is meant not
only to be known, but above all to be lived out. This is why it is
published several weeks beforehand, to give people time for personal
and/or community reflection so that the guidelines presented in the
Message can be received in people's hearts and put into practice.
11. The method of work
A further aspect by which the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace can help you in your work is that of method. Of course, by the
word "method" I am not referring to a rigid procedure but to a set of
criteria that can facilitate the assigned task.
These basic criteria can be found in the first Address that Paul VI
delivered, on 20 April 1967, to the then Pontifical Commission "Iustitia
et Pax": "In our eyes you represent the realization of the Council's
last desire (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 90). As in other times, and
still today, once a church or bell tower is built, the figure of a
rooster is placed on the top as a symbol of vigilance in faith and in
the entire programme of Christian life. In the same way, on the
spiritual edifice of the Council has been placed this Commission, with
the function of keeping the eyes of the Church open, her heart sensitive
and her hands ready to carry out the work of charity which she is called
to accomplish in the world, in order to 'promote progress in needy
regions and international social justice'".29
The criteria indicated by the Holy Father are three: keeping eyes
open, the heart sensitive and hands ready to promote justice and peace.
Permit me now to offer a very brief comment on these points.
a) "Eyes open" means being attentive to the signs of the times,
in order to see the world and our brothers and sisters with the eyes of
God, that is, with eyes that are always filled with love, understanding,
the desire to help; eyes that make no distinction between people,
whether for race, culture or social class; whether for political or
religious ideas; whether for similarity of character or lack thereof,
"Eyes open" also means "seeing God" in people and events,
whether they seem good or bad; it means "seeing the divine action" in
every circumstance of one's own life and the lives of others.
Consequently, this leads to attitudes of trust and hope in God's plan
for history, notwithstanding the problems that are present.30
b) The second point is a sensitive heart; this indicates a
positive feeling towards others that penetrates deeply as an experience
of those who are different from us and as an experience of their
circumstances; it is therefore the opposite of making oneself the point
of reference and being selfishly closed to others. Such a sensitive
heart represents the original fabric of life in society, connected to
love and solidarity.31
c) Lastly, we must consider the hands ready to do good, which
is a necessary consequence of keeping one's eyes open and heart
sensitive; it is the behaviour that measures and demonstrates the
effectiveness of this vision and sensitivity.
When we read the Gospels we realize that Jesus' strongest reproaches
are directed against hypocrites, those who say but do not do (cf. Mt
23:3); the same aversion is found in other sacred books.
Perhaps it is worth our time to reread a passage from the Letter of
the Apostle James: "If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of
daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and
filled', without giving them the things needed for the body, what does
it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (Jas
These words have an immediate application in social action, which we
can paraphrase thus: "If knowledge of the Church's social doctrine is
not shown through works, it is a knowledge dead in itself".
The Holy Father [John Paul II], in continuity with all the previous
social Magisterium, says it in another way: "[The Church's] social
message will gain credibility more immediately from the witness of
actions than as a result of its internal logic and consistency".32
We must conclude: throughout her history the Church has always been
committed, both as an institution and through her faithful, to the
promotion of justice and peace. We have the responsibility to continue
along this path, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, which is the Gospel
of justice and peace.
It is a Gospel that still today has the capacity to transform human
existence. It is that leaven of the Gospel parable that still today can
elevate from within and ennoble the life of our society. It will be slow
and gradual work, as is in the nature of leaven, but it will certainly
be a work that will give a new sense to the course of humanity.
1 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution
Gaudium et Spes, n. 40.
2 Cf. ibid., n. 76.
3 Ibid., n. 40.
4 Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution
Lumen Gentium, n. 48; ibid., Decree Ad Gentes, n. 5.
5 Second Vatican Council; Dogmatic Constitution
Lumen Gentium, n. 13; cf.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 813.
6 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus
Annus, n. 25.
7 John Paul II, commenting on this passage of the
Gospel, said: "By his response Jesus gives an indication of a line of
behaviour that is valid not only for the historical situation of the
moment, but also for our day and for all times. He states that the world
of religion and that of politics are distinct, each with its own purpose
and each with the power to obligate, for its part, people's consciences.
"Religion and politics must remain two distinct spheres. But the
religious person and the citizen are found in the same human being and
every person must be alert and attentive, both to his religious
responsibilities and his social, economic and political
responsibilities. This is important in all times and today it is perhaps
even more important". John Paul II, Homily of 17 October 1993, n.
5; the English is an unofficial translation from the Italian text as
found in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVI, 2 (1993),
8 John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et Magister:
AAS 53 (1961), n. 402.
9 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens,
10 "Human society is suffering from a serious illness. Its
cause is more correctly found in the severed bonds of brotherhood both
between men and nations, than in the diminished or monopolized resources
of nature". Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, n.
11 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis, n. 24.
12 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus
Annus, n. 33.
13 "We are all really responsible for all". John
Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 38.
14 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens,
15 John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
Christifideles Laici, n. 3.
16 In one of his first Encyclicals, John Paul II
demonstrated the failures arising from the desire to establish justice
on ideological bases: "It would be difficult not to notice that very
often programmes which start from the idea of justice and which ought to
assist its fulfillment among individuals, groups and human societies, in
practice suffer from distortions. Although they continue to appeal to
the idea of justice, nevertheless, experience shows that other negative
forces have gained the upper hand over justice, such as spite, hatred
and even cruelty.
"In such cases, the desire to annihilate the enemy, limit his freedom
or even force him into total dependence, becomes the fundamental motive
for action; and this contrasts with the essence of justice, which by its
nature tends to establish equality and harmony between the parties in
"This kind of abuse of the idea of justice and the practical
distortion of it show how far human action can deviate from justice
itself, even when it is being undertaken in the name of justice.... It
is obvious, in fact, that in the name of an alleged justice (for
example, historical justice or class justice) the neighbor is sometimes
destroyed, killed, deprived of liberty or stripped of fundamental human
rights". John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia,
17 "There cannot be two parallel lives in their
existence: on the one hand, the so-called 'spiritual' life, with its
values and demands; and on the other, the so-called 'secular' life, that
is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the
responsibilities of public life and in culture". John Paul II, Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, n. 59. Although these
words are addressed to the laity, they hold true for all the faithful of
18 "An increased sense of God and increased
self-awareness are fundamental to any full development of human society.
This development multiplies material goods and puts them at the service
of the person and his freedom. It reduces dire poverty and economic
exploitation. It makes for growth in respect for cultural identities and
openness to the transcendent (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 32; Encyclical Letter Centesimus
Annus, n. 51)". Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2441.
19 In fact, with regard to men and women religious
it has been written: "The witness of Religious for justice in the world,
however, implies, for themselves in particular, a constant review of
their life-options, their use of goods and their manner of relating,
because the one who dares to speak to others about justice must above
all be just in the eyes of others". Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Instruction
Religious and Human Promotion, 1980, n. 4-e.
20 "They live in the world, that is, in each and in
all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the
ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very
web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by
exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel
they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a
leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by
the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity". Second
Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 31.
21 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of
Catholics in Political Life, 24 November 2002, n. 7.
22 Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Arcanum Divinae:
AAS 12 (1879-80), n. 386.
23 Chapter Five of Part Two of Gaudium et Spes
is entitled "The Fostering of
Peace and the Promotion of a Community of Nations".
24 Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution
Gaudium et Spes, n. 90.
25 "§ 1. The Council makes a thorough study of the
social teaching of the Church and ensures that this teaching is widely
spread and put into practice among people and communities, especially
regarding the relations between workers and management, relations that
must come to be more and more imbued with the spirit of the Gospel".
26 "§ 2. It collects information and research on
justice and peace, about human development and violations of human
rights; it ponders all this, and, when appropriate, shares its
conclusions with the groupings of Bishops. It cultivates relationships
with Catholic international organizations and other institutions, even
ones outside the Catholic Church, which sincerely strive to achieve
peace and justice in the world".
27 "§ 3. It works to form among peoples a mentality
which fosters peace, especially on the occasion of the World Day of
28 John Paul II, Message for the 1979 World Day
of Peace, n. 18.
29 Paul VI, Address to the Members and Consultors
of "Iustitia et Pax", 20 April 1967; the English is an unofficial
translation of the Italian text found in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI,
V (1967), 170-171.
30 In fact, Paul VI urged the avoidance of
"discouragement in the face of a task which seems limitless in size. The
Christian's hope comes primarily from the fact that he knows that the
Lord is working with us in the world, continuing in his Body which is
— and, through the Church, in the whole of mankind
the Redemption which was accomplished on the Cross and which burst forth
in victory on the morning of the Resurrection (cf. Mt 28:30; Phil
"This hope springs also from the fact that the Christian knows that
other men are at work, to undertake actions of justice and peace working
for the same ends. For beneath an outward appearance of indifference, in
the heart of every man there is a will to live in brotherhood and a
thirst for justice and peace, which is to be expanded". Paul VI,
Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, n. 48; cf. also John Paul
II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 47.
31 Solidarity is "one of the fundamental principles
of the Christian view of social and political organization. This
principle is frequently stated by Pope Leo XIII, who uses the term
'friendship', a concept already found in Greek philosophy. Pope Pius XI
refers to it with the equally meaningful term 'social charity'. Pope
Paul VI, expanding the concept to cover the many modern aspects of the
social question, speaks of a 'civilization of love"'. John Paul II,
Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, n. 10.
The reference to Greek philosophy brings to mind Aristotle's concept
of friendship in social relations, which he saw as the most
necessary element of life. Cf. Aristotle, Etica Nicomachea, VIII,
1, 1155 a 4-5; IX, 9, 1169 b 10-11.
32 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus
Annus, n. 57; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et Magister:
AAS 53 (1961), n. 454; Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima
Adveniens, n. 51.