Peace and Justice Ministry

by OMI Bangladesh on November 3, 2012

 Oblate JPIC Ministry in Bangladesh

Introduction: Justice’ is giving to one what is his or her due. ‘Social justice’ refers to the relationships between different groups in society and examines whether each group in society receives what is its due. When we respect human dignity and promote the common good, we work for social justice. “To see if our society is just, we need to examine how the processes and institutions of our society operate, how we allocate resources, and how power and privilege are distributed. We need to look at the economic, social, cultural and political systems of our society. Concern for social justice leads us to ask: Do all of the systems result in every group in our society receiving what is due to them in fairness?” Thus, justice is about fairness with regard to individuals and groups in society.

Concepts of Justice and Peace in the Bible: The biblical understanding of justice goes beyond the above consideration. The biblical understanding of justice is rooted in the love of God. Responding to the needs of people and groups is one of the basic ways in which we give expression to God’s love in our relationships with others. This is why at the community, parish or school level we often analyze issues while at the same time respond to the immediate needs of the people. But if we remain at the level of treating only symptoms we will promote only dependency and paternalism. Thus, it will look like putting a band aid over a deep wound. To build a more just society we need to deal with causes as well as treating symptoms of those people and groups who are made poor or pushed to the margins. In other words there should be a cumulative shift in our work from charity or development to social action. Thus, we need to ask ourselves whether we can identify any groups in our society whose needs, interests and perspectives are neglected and how we might respond.

Biblical Foundation
The Bible sees justice as “setting things right”, and “restoring relationship” through non-violent means. The bible offers several models of justice like a) charity model, b) development model, and c) social action model. The biblical concept of justice is founded on the faith that “we all are created in the image and likeness of God and so endowed with dignity and integrity”. As far as the biblical concept of peace is concerned it is both personal and social. Biblical peace is the result of justice. It is a restored relationship between God and humans and among human beings.

Social Teaching of the Church
The Catholic Social Teaching sums up the teachings of the Church on issues of justice, peace and integrity of creation. It promotes a vision of a just society based on Scripture and Tradition and tries to respond to social justice issues through history.

 Rerum Novarum is the first comprehensive document of social justice. It was issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. This encyclical letter explores the conditions of the working classes in the wake of the industrial revolution and sets out the rights and duties of workers, employers and governments.

 Quadragesimo Anno was issued by Pope Pius XI in 1931 to mark the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum. The Pope here rejected both unfettered liberalism and the totalitarian forms of government that were emerging in the post war period and introduced the principle of subsidiarity into Catholic teaching.

 Mater et Magistra was published in 1961 by Pope John XXIII on Christianity and social progress. Here he saw poverty and inequality as international questions which require the solidarity of the whole human family.

 Pacem in Terriswas published on Holy Thursday, April 11th, 1963 by Pope John XXIII addressing all people of good will. He reflected in detail on human rights and focused on issues of peace in a nuclear age.

 Gaudium et spesis the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World which was issued by the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Its presentation of the role of the Church in the world marked a major development in the understanding of the place of work for justice in the mission of the Church.

World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 on Justice in the World states, “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation”.

The latest encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate” is very much inspiring. In tune with the theme, “Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation” the analysis of the encyclical on today’s poverty; economic meltdown and environmental destruction were highlighted. The Pope notes that the prevailing situation in the world is a result of the moral degradation, disrespect for life and a lack of solidarity. In order to build a just and peaceful society we need to revitalize ourselves with values enhance life in truth and charity. The world leaders have a responsibility towards the regeneration of our world.

Justice and Peace in the context of Bangladesh:

 

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