Becoming A Just Church
By Neilan D’souza
Dear Readers, in this month of October ALL Forum would like to draw your attention towards an impressive and noteworthy document ‘Justice in the World’ which was produced as the out come of the Second General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1971. This synod at the time focused on two important themes: “The Ministerial Priesthood” and “Justice in the World”.
The document “Justice in the World” provides strong emphasis on Catholic Social Teachings and it denotes the mission of the Church within the Christ-life and the need for the Church’s greater involvement in the world. What is interesting here is how this document carefully dives into many aspects of the current issues in the world and brings out many perspectives and stances of the Church on various matters. It also shows support and encourages solidarity on many aspects. Structurally the document is broken down with the following sections 1.Justice and World Society, 2. The Gospel Message and the Mission of the Church, 3. The Practice of Justice, 4. A Word of Hope.
What is compelling is that the bishops during this synod turn a critical eye to the Church, hoping to clean house; they state that the practice of justice must first begin within one’s home. The bishops advocate for: greater care of the lay workers; that women must be given a greater role, with the help of a mixed commission on the matter; “freedom of expression and thought”; fairer and faster juridical procedures; and the greater involvement of “the members of the Church” within the entire structure of the Church (Chapter 3). The Church’s witness, in the bishops’ estimation, also touches on temporal possessions for prophetic witness for the poor and consuming lifestyles.
The key message that we need to learn from this marvelous document is that “Christian love of neighbour and justice cannot be separated” and that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Justice in the World next month in November we invite you to read this transformative document “Justice in the World” so that we may deeper understand our Church, its active role in society and its mission for the liberation of everyone from every oppressive system and situation.