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.

The enormous suffering of peoples 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?  

               My reasoned conviction, confirmed in turn by biblical revelation, is that the shattered order cannot be fully restored except by a response that combines justice with forgiveness

               The pillars of true peace are justice and that form of love, which is forgiveness.    

But in the present circumstances, how can we speak of justice and forgiveness as the source and condition of peace? We can and must, no matter how difficult this may be, a difficulty that often comes from thinking that justice and forgiveness are irreconcilable. 

But forgiveness is the opposite of resentment and revenge, not of justice. 

               True peace is “the work of justice” (Isaiah 32:17). As the Second Vatican Council put it, peace is “the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be actualized by man thirsting for an ever more perfect reign of justice” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 78). 

               For more than fifteen hundred years, the Catholic Church has repeated the teaching of Saint Augustine of Hippo on this point. He reminds us that the peace which can and must be built in this world is the peace of right order—tranquillitas ordinis, the tranquillity of order (De Civitate Dei, 19,13).   

               True peace, therefore, is the fruit of justice, that moral virtue and legal guarantee which 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 which heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations

This is true in the circumstances great and small, at the personal level or on a more expansive, even international scale. 

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

               Instead, forgiveness is the fullness of justice, leading to that tranquillity of order, which is much more than a fragile and temporary cessation of hostilities, involving as it does the most profound healing of the wounds that fester in human hearts. 

Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such recovery.  


No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: this is what in this Message 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 for 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, for all the peoples 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, may the whole human family find real and lasting peace, born of the confluence of justice and mercy!  

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