More than ever, mankind is facing serious problems of peace and justice. Not a day passes without hearing alarming news, disgusting situation that disturbs the quietude of people who aspire for peace and justice. Fifty-four years ago, the Supreme Pontiff John XXIII wrote in Pacem in Terris that “Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order ” (No. 1). This encyclical intervened in such a troubled context in the history of mankind. Sensing the imminent danger that lays before humanity, the Pope invited men and women to take into account the necessity of peace among all nations, the peace that is founded on truth, justice, charity and freedom. Aware that without peace nothing is possible, the Pope remarked from the outset, the importance and the urgency it takes.
As for justice, Peter’s successor strengthened as follows: «Relations between States must furthermore be regulated by justice. This necessitates both the recognition of their mutual rights and, at the same time, the fulfilment of their respective duties.” (Pacem in Terris, no. 91). This shows sufficiently that if we want our world to be really called a “common home”, to use the expression of Pope Francis in Laudato Si, it must model itself on these two great values: “Peace and Justice”.
However, some questions need to be asked. First of all, how can peace and justice be established in the world today? Secondly, how to establish peace and justice in the world? These two main questions will guide our reflection.
- Educating for peace and justice
Peace is not given once and for all, it is built. It presupposes an education to be effective. According to Peter’s successor, Paul VI, “Peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men” (Popolorum Progressio, No. 76). This presupposes education.
However, “to educate” – comes from the Latin word educere – means leading to move beyond oneself and introducing to reality, towards a fullness that leads to growth. Pope Benedict XVI in his message: “Educating young people in Justice and Peace”, a message launched on the occasion of the World Day for Peace in 2012, wrote: ” Education is the most interesting and difficult adventure in life”.
To the question of the place where true education for peace and justice matures, he first places the family. Since, he thinks that parents are the first educators. The family is the primary cell of society. It is in the family that children learn human and Christian values that can allow constructive and peaceful co-existence. It is in the family that one learns to respect the rules, forgiveness and the reception of the other. It is the first school where one is educated to justice and peace.
- Peace is born of justice for all
Peace is above all, a gift from God. We, Christians, believe that Christ is our true peace: in Him and through the cross, God has reconciled the world and destroyed the barriers that separated us from each other (cf. Ep 2: 14-18). Peace is also a fruit of justice and an effect of charity. It also passes through the proper distribution of common goods. For the unfair distribution of the common goods can only cause frustration among people.
It is therefore urgent for the politicians to improve the living conditions of people. The basic norm of the State must be in pursuit of justice. The aim of a just social order is to guarantee to everyone, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, its share of the common good. A State which would not be governed by justice would be reduced to a large band of rogues, as Saint Augustine once said: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia? (The City of God, IV, 4). Justice and peace are the goals and therefore the intrinsic measure of any policy.
Peace is not an already acquired good, but the goal to which all of us must aspire. No one can elude this essential task of promoting justice and peace. It is on the basis of this awareness that each one according to his own skills and responsibilities must mobilize his spiritual, moral and material forces to work for justice and peace.
Policies, on the other hand, need to improve the working conditions that are often not compatible with family responsibilities and ultimately make it difficult to provide children with the most valuable assets. Policy-makers must help families and educational institutions to exercise their right and duty to educate. Motherly and fatherly support should never be lacking. The Church must not be left behind; by its social doctrine, it must play its prophetic role to defend the rights of the needy.
In order to be truly a peacemaker and artisan of justice, we must not only educate ourselves on this, but we should be active vectors in the community without which the world cannot be human. The advent of a better world requires education in justice and peace.
Fr. Olivier Mulombo Sukisa, CMF
(Fr. Olivier is a member of the Independent Delegation of Congo. He was ordained in 2010. After his priestly ordination, he was assigned as vicar and econome at Pay-Kongila, then at Saint Ignace Masamba. Later, he was designated as administrator and formator at the Pere Claret Scholasticate in Mont-Ngafula Kimbondo (Kinshasa, R. D. Congo). Today, he studies at Pontificia Università Gregoriana (Rome, Italy) taking a specialization in dogmatic theology.