Niigata (AsiaNews) – It is so sad to witness again and again the brutal end of so many innocent lives as happened recently in Paris. As Catholics, we believe that human life is God’s most precious gift. Hence, we cannot accept any justification for such violent attacks against human life. As the Holy Father put it, "there is no religious or human justification for it. This is not human."
At the same time, some believe that retaliation against such violence may produce some kind of solution. However, such a solution would be only short term or temporary. Of course, in order to carry out great violence like the recent Paris terrorist attacks, financial resources, organisational structure and human resources are indispensable. Therefore, the use of violence in response to such violence could minimise it and stop attacks.
Still, such moves would only be temporary, and would not touch the real causes of violence. The real cause of such brutal violence lies in our hearts, and our emotions. Armed power cannot control emotional hatred rooted deep in our hearts.
I hope that the sad incidents in Paris will not increase our hatred towards specific groups of people, or make the general public want to retaliate with violence. I hope instead that it will make people realise that taking human life in any case for any reason is against God’s will. As everyone’s creator, it is he who granted us the precious gift of human life.
During the Justice and Peace National Convention in Tokyo in September, I had the opportunity of sharing my thoughts on peace with Bishop Katsuya of Sapporo who is in charge of the Commission for Justice and Peace. During our talk, I mentioned that integral human development is the key for establishing real peace, and thus Caritas activities are, in fact, actions for Peace.
Of course, I mean peace as conceptualised in Gaudium et Spes. For the encyclical, "Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice. Peace results from that order structured into human society by its divine Founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice" (78).
In order to realise the "order structured into human society by its divine Founder", Pope John XXIII noted that basic human rights have to be respected and realised in society (Pacem in Terris). On this basis, integral human development is fundamental for real peace.
However, the meaning of integral human development should not be restricted to its typical meaning or use in development.
In Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote, "development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human. It is not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but rather of building up a more decent life through united labour, of concretely enhancing every individual's dignity and creativity, as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation, and thus to God's call" (29).
I hope we have courage to face reality and stop these vicious circles of violence, not by violent retaliation but by a real process of building peace through integral human development.
Unfortunately, the recent political initiatives by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party – shifting national security policy away from a passive to a more active defence, which the prime minister has called a proactive contribution to peace – may not actually contribute to stopping these vicious circles of violence.
* Bishop of Niigata and President of Caritas Asia