Justice-and-Peace Groups Have 1st World Congress

Vatican Overseeing Event for Ecclesial Organizations

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ROME, OCT. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Speaking on the Pope's behalf, the Vatican secretary of state said that three criteria are necessary to promote justice and peace: open eyes, a sensitive heart and willing hands.



Cardinal Angelo Sodano was speaking Wednesday at the opening of the 1st World Congress of Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace, attended by some 300 officials of the organizations, representing 92 countries. They will reflect on the topic "Proclaiming the Gospel of Justice and Peace."

Representatives of 15 episcopal conferences and several international organizations are among the participants in the closed-door congress organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

To have one's eyes open means to be conscious of the signs of the times, to see the world with the eyes of God, with a look of love, without bias, Cardinal Sodano explained, as reported on Vatican Radio.

A sensitive heart signifies affection and concern for others, versus egotistic narrow-mindedness, he said. And willing hands are needed to do good, because faith without works is dead, the cardinal said.

As the encyclical "Centesimus Annus" teaches, the social message of the Church will be credible with the testimony of works, rather than by its coherence and internal logic, he continued.

"Throughout her history, the Church has always been committed, both as an institution as well as through her faithful, to the promotion of justice and peace," Cardinal Sodano said.

"We have the responsibility to follow this course, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, which is a Gospel of justice and peace," he exhorted.

It is "a Gospel that even today has the capacity to transform human existence. It is that leaven of the evangelical parable which from within can still today uplift and ennoble our society's life," the cardinal added.

In describing the context of this proclamation, Cardinal Sodano recalled Pope Paul VI's words in the encyclical "Populorum Progressio": "Human society is sorely ill."

"Since then, the illness seems to have worsened; injustice and violence have multiplied," the cardinal said.

He referred to "those places where humiliation has become a system of life." He also cited "areas where war, guerrillas and terrorism expand," as do "refugee camps," "the exiled" and "racial and religious discrimination."

The cardinal further mentioned "places of work where the impression is of being used as means," places where there is a "lack of political and trade-union freedom," and "so many situations in which there is no justice and peace."

But "justice and peace must be promoted according to the Gospel and the social doctrine of the Church, so that what is promoted is not an ideology … which has only the name justice and peace, but not the reality."

In this connection, the newly published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church comes as "a most important instrument to carry out the New Evangelization insistently called for by John Paul II," said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the dicastery that organized the international congress.

The Compendium, written by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presents in 583 numbers the doctrine of the Church on public life.

Cardinal Martino outlined the objectives of the congress, among which is the study of justice in the era of globalization, whose significance goes beyond the economic realm.

Regarding the commitment to peace, Cardinal Martino said that after the collapse of the Soviet system, war has a new face, no less inhuman, as the world must confront the challenge of terrorism. The congress is also addressing the topic of the rights of man.

The meeting aims to identify the most effective ways to relaunch the Church's pastoral action in the social reality, and to be able to address the challenges in building the civilization of love founded on an integral and solidaristic humanism.

Cardinal Martino announced that his dicastery will publish a document entitled "The Pastoral Action of the Church in the Social Reality."

He explained the document's two subtitles: "Instrumentum Laboris" (Working Document), because "we are only at the beginning of an exploratory endeavor," and "Directory," because "we know the final goal of our work."

"Our congress will be most useful to give body and soul to the text," the cardinal concluded.