Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $41,060 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Political programs cannot achieve justice and equality, Pope says in Lenten message

Catholic World News - February 04, 2010

In his message for Lent, Pope Benedict XVI cautions against a purely secular approach to achieving justice in society.

While Jesus "surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine," the Holy Father writes, nevertheless "distributive justice does not render to the human being the totality of his due." Man seeks for something much more-- for salvation-- which can only come through Christ and his Church.

The Pope's annual message takes its title from St. Paul's letter to the Romans: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ." Pope Benedict begins with some reflections on the meaning of the word "justice." He notes that the most common definition involves giving every person his due. But a problem arises immediately, he notes: "What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law."

Efforts to achieve justice through the force of human law cannot succeed, the Pope says. The radical impulse to eliminate all oppressive structures, hoping thereby to bring a just and equal society, is doomed. The Pontiff explains: "Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil."

The goal of the faithful during Lent, the Pope writes, should be to root out the evil in their own hearts. This effort requires humility, because Christians must acknowledge that they cannot change the world-- or even change themselves-- by their own powers; they must rely on the help of their Savior. Christians must be determined to pursue God's justice, not their own.

The Christian who is determined to answer God's call will indeed work for justice in society, the Pope continues: "God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor, the stranger, the slave." But the Christian recognizes that his own efforts to help others are guided by God. He concludes that the justice to which St. Paul refers is "the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others."

At a Vatican press conference introducing the Pope's Lenten message, Hans-Gert Poettering, the former president of the European Parliament, observed that the Pope "has indicated that a secularly radicalized form of the idea of distributive justice that is decoupled from faith in God becomes ideological." He added: "As a politician, I would like to add: We have experienced in collapsed socialism where this thinking can lead to."

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, agreed. He told the press conference: "Whoever dedicates deeper study to the Church's contribution in favor of peaceful understanding among human beings will soon discover that the problem of just coexistence cannot be resolved only though worldly interventions."

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($128,907 to go):
$150,000.00 $21,092.70
86% 14%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: New Sister - Feb. 04, 2010 6:53 PM ET USA

    His message for Lent is superb - definitely read the full text!

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Cardinal Kasper's nose is growing again October 18
Challenge Grant Begins as Synod Ends October 17
What's wrong with this Synod, IV: Unprepared for marriage October 17
No, mainstream religious orders aren't attracting vocations as fast as younger traditional orders October 17
The Synod: Is the sky falling? October 17

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6