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Every day we are surrounded by stories of conflict and crisis. Ongoing wars, eruptions of violence and terror, mass migrations, and stories of the aftermath of these events are ever present in the modern consciousness. Our hyper-connected world quickly spreads the news of the latest injustice or division, while stories of hope may seem hard to come by.
Divine Word Missionaries work to bring Christ’s message of peace and justice to life in the communities they serve. We advance the cause of the marginalized and defenseless by founding orphanages, fighting human trafficking, and providing food, shelter, and comfort to refugees and migrants around the world.
Because working for peace and justice is one of our core mission areas, we have spent time as a community uncovering what peace and justice look like and how they can be achieved.
Peace is a state of tranquility and unity, a state in which war and tension have no place. Peace is one of the greatest expressions of our humanity because achieving peace requires cooperation, mutual respect, concern for others and an ability to see the common humanity that unites us all. Peace can and should operate at every level of society—within the individual, the family, the community, the country and the global order.
As citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to work for peace between nations, political parties, religious groups and races.
Philosophers, theologians and scholars have devoted centuries and filled volumes of books trying to define justice. It’s a topic that fascinates human beings because all people of good will are interested in getting justice for ourselves and for living justly toward others.
Justice is best understood as “giving to others what is their due,” or to put it even more simply, “fairness.” Both definitions relate that human beings evaluate what we owe to the people around us and what is owed to us in return and operate based on these judgments. Justice operates in every sphere: the family, the neighborhood, the workplace, the nation, the global order.
“Today consciousness of Justice is increasing. … Every man today knows he is a person; and he feels he is a person: that is, an inviolable being, equal to others, free and responsible — let us use the term: a sacred being … a different and better perception … of his twofold moral movement of rights and duties, fills the consciousness of man. … This is not simply an individual phenomenon, nor one reserved for select and restricted groups; it is now a collective and universal phenomenon. The developing countries shout it out with a loud voice. It is the voice of peoples, the voice of mankind. It demands a new expression of Justice, a new foundation for Peace.” — Pope Paul VI, Celebration of the Day of Peace
“If you want peace, work for justice.” This famous quote comes from Pope Paul VI’s address for the Day of Peace in 1972.
Pope Paul VI explains that the relationship between peace and justice is intrinsic:
“It is difficult, but essential, to form a genuine idea of Peace. It is difficult for one who closes his eyes to his innate intuition of it, which tells him that Peace is something very human. This is the right way to come to the genuine discovery of Peace: if we look for its true source, we find that it is rooted in a sincere feeling for man. A Peace that is not the result of true respect for man is not true Peace. And what do we call this sincere feeling for man? We call it Justice.”
Without a solid and stable foundation of justice, no people, government or community will achieve the peace they desire. Peace comes from justice, not corruption and oppression.
There is extraordinary violence and unrest in the world, but it is concentrated in specific regions of the globe. Here’s a look at some facts about the state of world peace from the Institute for Economics and Peace.
“The promotion of peace in the world is an integral part of the Church’s mission of continuing Christ’s work of redemption on earth. In fact, the Church is, in Christ, a “‘sacrament’ or sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world.’ The promotion of true peace is an expression of Christian faith in the love that God has for every human being. From a liberating faith in God’s love there arises a new vision of the world and a new way of approaching others, whether the other is an individual or an entire people. It is a faith that transforms and renews life, inspired by the peace that Christ left to his disciples (cf. Jn 14:27).” — Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Catholics and Catholic religious have a special responsibility to act for peace and justice in the world. History is full of fascinating examples of saints and religious who spoke out for peace and justice and made history.
Pope John Paul II is credited with awakening a movement across Poland and other places in Europe, a movement that rejected Communism and led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
St. Francis of Assisi is said to have crossed enemy lines during the Fifth Crusade in order to meet with Sultan al-Kamil of Egypt and begin an interfaith dialogue about peace.
Today, fighting for peace and justice remains a key priority for Divine Word Missionaries, a priority that we live out in our daily work in countries around the world. Divine Word Missionaries use their role as educators, servants and men of God to represent the interests of peace and justice to people in power.
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the interdependence of peace and justice, the work that Divine Word Missionaries are doing to advance the cause of peace and justice, and the people and communities that they serve.
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