Pope Relaunches Vatican II's Call to Justice

Reiterates a Theme of "Gaudium et Spes"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has again proposed to the Church and to humanity the call to justice launched 40 years ago by the Second Vatican Council.



"The challenge constantly facing the Church," consists in "reminding all believers of the need to interpret social realities in the light of the Gospel," said the Pope from his room in the Vatican where he is convalescing from a throat operation.

The Holy Father was echoing one of the key conclusions of the meeting of the world's bishops, reflected in the pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," published December, 1965.

He took up this legacy in a message sent today for the opening of an international conference on the theme "The Call to Justice: The Legacy of 'Gaudium et Spes' 40 Years Later." The conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is being held in Rome through Friday.

In that 1965 document, the participants in Vatican II suggested to Pope Paul VI the establishment of what today is the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The pontifical council's mission is "to promote justice and peace in the world in accordance with the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church," according to the 1988 apostolic constitution "Pastor Bonus."

John Paul II's message said: "At times, the enormous progress of science and technology can lead to forget fundamental questions of justice, despite the common aspiration for greater solidarity among peoples, and for a more human restructuring of social relations.

"The sad permanence of conflicts and the repeated manifestations of violence in very many parts of the world are proof, by contrast, of the inseparable relationship that exists between justice and peace, according to the fundamental teaching proposed with courageous clarity in 'Gaudium et Spes.'"

"In this connection, I wish to reaffirm once again that peace is the work of justice," the Pope stated. "Authentic peace on earth entails the firm determination to respect others, individuals and peoples, in their dignity, and the constant determination to increase fraternity among the members of the human family."

However, the Church "does not reduce her teaching to this," he said.

Vatican II affirmed "that peace is also the fruit of love, which goes beyond anything that justice can realize," the Holy Father noted.

He added: "The virtue of love, which leads to forgiveness and reconciliation, and encourages the commitment of Christians in favor of justice," must never be forgotten.