File photo of Pope Francis  (AFP or licensors)

By Devin Watkins

Nov 18 2021

Pope Francis urges participants in an online meeting of Justice and Peace Commissions of various national Bishops’ Conferences to help society correct the contradictions in the economic and political systems revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is hosting a two-day online conference for Justice and Peace Commissions of national Catholic Bishops’ Conferences.

Running 17-18 November, the event focuses on the challenges and possibilities facing humanity in the post-pandemic world.

Pope Francis kicked off the conference with a message to encourage participants in their mission to foster human development in their home countries.

Integral development and peace

The Pope recalled that Pope St. Paul VI set up the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace in 1967, and entrusted it with the mission of promoting integral human development as the “new name of peace.”

Many national Bishops’ Conferences then set up their own local Justice and Peace Commissions to operate at the national level.

The Commission became part of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in 2017 under the guidance of the prefect, Cardinal Peter Turkson.

Social, ecological justice and peace

Pope Francis praised the work of the local commissions as “an indispensable service” to the social-pastoral work of the Church.

“They have the task of spreading knowledge of the social doctrine of the Church,” he said, “working concretely for the protection of the dignity of the human person and of human rights, with a preferential option for the poor and the most abandoned.”

In carrying out that mission, he added, the commissions contribute to the growth of “social, economic, and ecological justice, while sowing peace.”

Care for environment and fraternity

The Pope encouraged participants in the conference to look to his encyclicals Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti for inspiration, and to inculturate the Gospel in their own societies.

“In every part of the world,” said Pope Francis, “integral development—and therefore justice and peace—can be built only through these two paths: care for our common home, and fraternity and social friendship.”

These twin paths, he said, find their origin in the Gospel of Christ, though they can be pursued with the faithful of other Christian confessions and religions.

Unraveling complex contradictions

He encouraged local commission members to work with “hope, determination, and creativity”, especially in the difficult context that has arisen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Pope noted how the pandemic has exacerbated many conflicts, as many nations row back on their commitments to avoid the “tragedies of the last century.”

“The current crisis has highlighted numerous contradictions of the economic and political system, while unresolved challenges remain and require the joint dedication of many parties,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his message to members of Justice and Peace Commissions with an appeal to work together with other civil and religious entities to find solutions to these glaring contradictions. -Vatican News