04/26/2007, 00.00
VATICAN
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Charity and justice should govern relations among peoples

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences debates how to pursue this goal. Focus is on the social doctrine of the Church and ‘Deus Caritas est.’

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Charity and justice at the international level, hence in the relations between peoples and nations, is a fundamentally important today. However, there are many signs that the opposite is happening, ranging from resurgent nationalism and widespread poverty to weak multilateralism and mounting terrorism and wars. This, according to the Vatican, is happening because we are forgetting that “[j]ustice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics” and by their very nature have to do with ethics.

Issues relating to Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations are in fact what the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences will examine during its 13th Plenary Session, which runs from tomorrow till May 1. Outside experts like former US Secretary of State and Nobel Prize laureate Henry Kissinger will be among the participants.

“The subject of the session,” says a paper released today at the presentation of the event, “will be the relations among peoples and nations: the developed, the developing, the emerging and the poor. We will ask ourselves whether these relations, in the light of the social Magisterium of the Church, can become more just, fairer, and more peaceful, and what the route should be to achieve such ends. In other words, is a partnership for charity and justice possible in the globalised world?”

In light of the “worrying recent signs of the times” such as the weakness of multilateral organisations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation which are working in the opposite direction of “a common conviction that the pursuit of charity and justice at the international level is of key importance for contemporary society,” the Academy finds inspiration in Benedict XVI’s encyclical  Deus Caritas est, especially when it “reminds us that the theological and human virtue of charity must preside over all of the social teaching and all of the social works of the Church and her members.”

“When discussing the relationship between the Church, a ‘Community of Love’, and politics, the Pope’s approach to justice is particularly relevant to the social sciences and to the role of the Magisterium of the Church. First of all, the Pope offers the strongest vision that has ever been formulated in the contemporary age on the relationship between politics and justice: ‘The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics’. Indeed, ‘Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics’. For the Pope justice (and politics) is not a mere utilitarian or contractual technique but ‘by its very nature has to do with ethics’ (n. 28).”

Moreover, in the encyclical, “[n]ot only the historical dimension of the meaning of justice, founded on both the Jewish and Christian traditions and the Roman and Greek inheritance, but also its contemporary meaning, derive from the constant purification that faith brings to reason: ‘This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith’. To conclude, here, too, the Pope attributes to the Christian a fundamental task and stresses that the aim of the social doctrine of the Church ‘is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgement and attainment of what is just’ (n. 28a).

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