Conferees Hear of the Basis of Justice

At Event on Vatican II's "Gaudium et Spes"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Justice isn't determined by law but rather by the "profound identity of the human being," a Holy See official told a conference on the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution.



Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made that point when addressing the conference on "The Call to Justice: The Legacy of 'Gaudium et Spes' 40 Years after Its Promulgation."

At the March 16-18 conference, which gathered experts from 40 countries, the cardinal repeated the appeal of Vatican II "to promote the human person through an impassioned willingness to work for justice."

In the 1965 pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," the council fathers conceived society, its structures and its development in light of "the person," their objectives being "the improvement of the human being," explained Cardinal Martino, who organized the conference.

"Justice is not a simple human convention, as what is 'just' is not determined originally by the law, but by the profound identity of the human being," he stated.

However, "justice is destined to be exceeded by charity," in which it finds its origin, in virtue of solidarity "with the human race and its history," the cardinal said.

For his part, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, said that the Church "calls her children and all men of good will to a commitment that corresponds to the eminent dignity" that the human being has inherited from God.

"Freedom and rights are based on this dignity," he emphasized.

A key task posed by "Gaudium et Spes" is to "relaunch culturally the value of the natural law, as the condition of real human freedom and as terrain of dialogue between men, recognizing a framework of shared values," added Cardinal Sodano. "Shared because they are true, and not true because they are shared."

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, offered a Christian view of justice.

He noted that "in the mystery of Good Friday, Jesus is condemned by earthly justice. But with the Resurrection, divine justice defeats death, the tomb stone is removed for ever, and the meaning and value of the earth is revealed."