Common Grounds

The Evangelical Pope | God is On the Side of Justice: Compassionate and Merciful for the Oppressed and Oppressor

January 01, 2024

Living Words from John Paul II

Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen


Published Sunday, January 1, 2024

The Evangelical Pope | God is On the Side of Justice: Compassionate and Merciful for the Oppressed and Oppressor

Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.


               17 The fruit of that righteousness [justice] will be peace;
               Its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
               __ Isaiah 32: 17 (New International Version NIV)


The Vatican, 8 December 2001 | The enormous suffering of people and individuals, even among my friends and acquaintances, caused by Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, has never been far from my thoughts and prayers.

I have often paused to reflect on the persistent question:

               "How do we restore the moral and social order subjected to such horrific violence?"

The pillars of true peace combine justice and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the opposite of resentment and revenge, not of justice. True peace is "the work of justice" (Isaiah 32:17).

               True peace, therefore, is the fruit of justice, that moral virtue and legal guarantee that ensures full respect for rights and responsibilities and the just distribution of benefits and burdens.

But because human justice is always fragile and imperfect, subject as it is to the limitations and egoism of individuals and groups, it must include and, as it were, be completed by the forgiveness that heals, thereby rebuilding troubled human relations from their foundations.

               Forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done.

               It is instead the fullness of justice, involving as it does the most profound healing of the wounds that fester in human hearts.

               Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such healing.


Prayer for peace

To pray for peace is to open the human heart to the inroads of God's power to renew all things. With the life-giving force of his grace, God can create openings for peace where only obstacles and closures are apparent; he can strengthen and enlarge the solidarity of the human family despite our endless history of division and conflict.

No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: this is what I wish to say to believers and non-believers alike, to all men and women of goodwill who are concerned for the good of the human family and its future.

No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: this is what I wish to say to those responsible for the future of the human community, entreating them to be guided in their weighty and difficult decisions by the light of man's true good, always with a view to the common good.

No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: I shall not tire of repeating this warning to those who, for one reason or another, nourish feelings of hatred, a desire for revenge, or the will to destroy.

On this World Day of Peace, may a more intense prayer rise from the hearts of all believers for the victims of terrorism, for their families so tragically stricken, and for all the people who continue to be hurt And convulsed by terrorism and war.

May the light of our prayer extend even to those who gravely offend God and man by these pitiless acts that they may look into their hearts, see the evil of what they do, abandon all violent intentions, and seek forgiveness.

In these troubled times, the whole human family may find true and lasting peace born of the marriage of justice and mercy!

Excerpted from:

Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration Of The World Day Of Peace, The Vatican, 1 January 2002


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