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Pope explains the meaning of 'justice' and 'peace'

Catholic World News - January 13, 2012

On January 13, Pope Benedict XVI held his annual private audience with members of the Italian police force that serves at the Vatican.

"Defending public order, especially in an area so heavily frequented by tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, is no simple task", the Pope acknowledging, thanking the police officers for their work.

At the same time, the Pope said, the necessity for a police detail at the Vatican should not be seen as a burden on the secular government:

The presence, both of the Holy See and of such large numbers of cosmopolitan visitors who come to be at the heart of the Catholic Church, is certainly not a problem for the city of Rome or for Italy as a whole; rather, it is a source of richness and a reason to be proud.

Pope Benedict reminded the officers that the past year has seen an increasing incidence of violence against Christians. He seemed to be alerting his listeners of the need for vigilance, in case such violence could come to the Vatican.

The Pope made what might have seemed at first to be a routine remark, encouraging the police officers to work for justice and peace. But he added some depth to that message with a short but pointed commentary on what “justice” and “peace” really mean:

Justice is not a mere human convention. When, in the name of supposed justice, the criteria of utility, profit, and material possession come to dominate, the value and dignity of human beings can be trampled underfoot. Justice is a virtue which guides the human will, prompting us to give others what is due to them by reason of their existence and their actions. Likewise, peace is not the mere absence of war, or the result of man's actions to avoid conflict; it is, above all, a gift of God which must be implored with faith, and which has the way to its fulfillment in Jesus. True peace must be constructed day after day with compassion, solidarity, fraternity, and collaboration on everyone's part.

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