A Church Seeking Justice: The Challenge of Pope Francis to the Church in Canada
The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published this document in October 2015. It asks us to initiate a discussion on how his teaching in this area of justice is challenging us here in Canada. The gospel certainly proclaims justice, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. The Pope calls us to promote the integral development of the poor, working for access to education, health care, employment with a just wage, and on another level, working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty, yet without overlooking the small daily acts of solidarity which meet real needs of those we encounter.
The document focuses on three aspects of Catholic social teaching to which Pope Francis is giving significant attention: the dignity of the human person and work; teachings on war and peace; and ethical reflections on economics and political responsibility. Pope Francis has stressed that life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death, challenging moves towards the legalization of abortion and euthanasia in many countries, including Canada.
In terms of war, peace and violence, the Pope says that peace is built day by day…. It is not an industrial product, it is an artisanal product. It is crafted every day with our work, with our life, with our closeness. Peacemaking calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence: yes to negotiations and no to hostilities: yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation: yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.
The section on economics and social responsibility there is the reality that there is an economics of exclusion, isolation and poverty that creates a “throw-away culture” that “does so much harm to our world. Children are discarded, young people are discarded because they do not have work, and the elderly are discarded with the pretext to maintain a ‘balanced’ economic system, at the center of which is money, not the human person. We are all called to oppose this poisonous throw-away culture! What is needed is a new economic and political mindset, one suggested by Catholic social teaching and its attention to social-economic paradigms that would promote and enhance human dignity.
In the conclusion the Bishops of Canada indicate that the Holy Father has summoned us to challenge apathy with empathy, global indifference with a culture of encounter, complacency with an intelligent commitment to justice and the common good.