EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: Reflections of Most Rev. Diarmuid MARTIN, Coadjutor Archbishop of DublinTuesday, October 28 2003
The recent Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis (#67) takes up a phrase that was used at the Tenth Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that describes the Bishop as a “prophet of justice”. It is a striking and original concept, which could be the leitmotif of our reflections today.
The Papal document goes on to develop in some detail what being a “prophet of justice” involves. The Bishop is called “the defender and father of the poor” and “the defender of human rights”. He is the one who “proclaims the moral teaching of the Church” and “who proclaims the social teaching of the Church”. He is the one who “proclaims hope”, who “proclaims peace”. He is the one who “denounces vengeance” and “fosters forgiveness and love”.
These questions are addressed in the chapter on the role of the Bishop before “the challenges of the present” (Chapter 7, Title). The Pope deals here with globalization, appealing for a globalization which is “joined to the dynamism of solidarity”; he addresses questions of ecology, of health and of human mobility. It is also interesting that it is in the section of the Apostolic Exhortation that he addresses the question of inter-religious dialogue.
The Apostolic Exhortation should leave no one in doubt concerning the fact that involvement with “the challenges of the present”, with the realities of the world, is an important part of the mission of the bishop. It is an expression of his “burning love of a shepherd”, an activity which should be “the fruit of the work of the spirit” (cf. #66).
The framework offered by the Apostolic Exhortation also helps us to understand what is specific in the contribution of the Bishop to the work of justice. More and more I am convinced that the principle focus of the bishop in working for justice must be anthropological. It is about the human person, male and female, created in God’s image and likeness; it is about humanity created as a family; it is about the integrity of the creation given to humankind as its home.
The Bishop’s work for justice involves not just a catalogue of denunciations of injustices. Neither is it just an agenda of focussed programmes and interventions. It is not simply the enunciation of theological principles. It is all of these. The key point, in today’s world, is establishing a dialogue between theological reflection and the fruits of human sciences and social investigation in order to place the human person, created in God’s image, at the centre of the social reflection and action of the Church.
The Apostolic Exhortation notes that work for social justice draws its strength from the “radicalism of the Gospel”. It involves unmasking false concepts of the human person, the fostering of authentic values, the discernment of the truth and the defence of human life in all its stages. It involves reflection of how we most effectively become ministers of God’s love, which has become incarnate and visible in the life and person of Jesus. The prophet of justice is a witness to the love of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ. Being a prophet of justice means being a prophet of charity.
A love that is gratuitous
The word charity has unfortunately become debased or devalued in our English-speaking world. But we believers cannot abandon something that is so fundamental to our identity as followers of Jesus Christ. The disciples of Jesus are to be known by their charity, by their love for one another. What we have to rediscover is the true depth of meaning of charity, of Christian love. That meaning is very different from the debased value of charity as handouts. We must show that true Christian charity brings an irreplaceable contribution to reflection on justice, that is, on relationships between people and among peoples.
Self interest, profit, comparative advantage, competition or short term national interest are all too often the motives which today govern relations between people and between nations. In the face of these utilitarian viewpoints, we have to recover the notion of charity in its fundamental dimension of gratuity in our relations with others. That is the remarkable thing about love: we love gratuitously; we do not ask anything in return, just as Jesus “loved us first”.
Paradoxically, fear can be a powerful and very effective motive to inspire programmes of development. We have very often little success by appealing to noble sentiments of solidarity and common responsibility. But if we say, “if we do not do something to change the situation of those people we will soon have them on our doorsteps” or that “they will threaten our security”, then politicians, tabloids and the proponents of enlightened self interest, and indeed ordinary citizens, will all immediately click into action.
Fear is not a worthy motive on which to build a model of international cooperation. The other – the person living in poverty, the immigrant, the asylum seeker – is not our enemy, but a fellow human being, our brother or sister. Creation was an act of God’s love. Love alone can heal the effects of sin in our world, since Jesus has overcome the world (Jn 16:33). The Bishop, in working for justice, must be a witness to that healing, reconciling and transforming love.
Even an interesting and promising concept of human security could be manipulated into a strategic term in which human needs are addressed where strategic interests are greatest, rather than because of their intrinsic requirements.
Pastores Gregis stresses very much the plight of the poor. It draws particular attention to the paradox of the enduring drama of hunger and extreme poverty alongside opulence and great wealth and in an age in which humanity has the capacity for a just sharing of resources. Indeed, even in countries or regions where the fight against poverty has shown success, it has often been accompanied by an increase in inequalities. Our generation has witnessed enormous scientific progress, but it has not effectively learned the science of sharing.
The science of sharing involves a challenging task for economists in designing models of growth with equity and stability. It requires a new way of looking at the unity of the human family and of appreciating the fact that when God created the goods of creation he created them for the benefit of all. It
The unity of the human family
When God created humanity he created it as a family. From this affirmation flow the principles of common responsibility, of solidarity and of familial relationship of love that should be the true trademark of relationship between peoples. This is the fundamental principle that should guide the process of globalization. Globalization will be worthy of its name if it enhances the unity of the human family. Any form of globalization that breeds exclusion, marginalization and crass inequality does not have the right to call itself global. Globalization has to be made the synonym of inclusive. The Globalization of solidarity, the Pope notes in Pastores Gregis, is “a direct consequence of that universal charity which lies at the heart of the Gospel” (#69).
The changes that are taking place in our era of economic globalization, inspired by liberal economic vision, make it more and more difficult to identify the patterns of responsibility that should guide the process. The move from the public to the private, the dominance of economic values above all others, the inadequacy of our international structures make the governance of globalization difficult. In international relations, including trade relations, rules are important. But we should remember the basic principle that rules are there to defend the more vulnerable and to restrain any tendency towards arrogance of these who are more powerful. In many international institutions this is not the case, even where theoretically the rules are the same for all. In the free-for-all of bilateral international relations, the imbalance may be even greater. We see today a new tendency to isolation and protectionism that can lead to a weighing of the rules in favour of the relatively powerful.
The Church is neither “no global” nor “pro-global”. Bishops should avoid judging globalization in ideological terms and look rather at the facts. We must recognise both the positive effects of globalization and its negative effects and encourage a process of discernment. That discernment will involve reflection on the unity of the human family, which may mean that offering advantage to the poorer countries can well bring some disadvantage to local interests, which have up to now been protected.
It is also important to use the positive aspects of globalisation in a way that can benefit the poorest, especially enhancing human potential through broadening access to knowledge that is central for participation in the world in which we live. I am thinking of ways in which we can use the benefits of communication and information technology in favour of education. Catholic Universities in our wealthy countries could do much to ensure the transfer of knowledge to similar institutions in developing countries. The opportunities open through access to Internet are enormous.
In our discernment of the phenomenon of globalization we should in particular recall the very important principle stressed by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus (#39) namely, that “the economy is only one aspect and one dimension of human activity” and that “economic freedom is only one element of human freedom”. If economic life is absolutised, if the production and consumption of goods become the centre of social life and society’s only value, not subject to any other value, economic freedom looses its necessary relationship the human person, and ends up by alienating and oppressing”
To be at the service of the human person, economic activity requires an ethical and legal framework. That framework must ensure that economic freedom is situation within a wider system of fundamental human values, and that certain “collective goods” (CA, #40) – including the rights of workers – are protected, and that or certain fundamental human needs which “find no place on the market” (#34) do not remain unsatisfied.
The goods of creation are for all
The principle of the unity of the human family is linked, as we have noted, with another important principle, that of the universal destination of the goods of creation. It is a very simple principle to which Catholic social teaching has given such a complicated name.
It means that when God created the goods of this world he created them for the benefit of all. Traditionally this principle was applied to land and natural resources. In today’s knowledge based economy this principle must be applied also to the fruits of human genius and to intellectual property. The Pope has recalled that intellectual property is subject to that same “social mortgage” as any other form of private property. The Church has always taught respect for private property but it has never elevated it to the rank of an absolute principle.
Intellectual property systems can be an important incentive towards eliciting the creative genius of individuals, but they ought not be invoked to permit the hoarding of knowledge, especially in the area of medicine, which is needed today for the survival of persons, in the hope of making more money tomorrow.
Many pharmaceutical firms were hesitant in their support for the provision of cheap life-saving medicines to respond to pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. They felt that such measures would weaken the encouragement to creativity that the intellectual property rights system provides. They seemed to overlook the fact that the real purpose of creativity in medical research is the good of the human community. We have an enormous “health divide” in our world, just as important as a digital divide or a knowledge divide. We may even find a new health divide within our own communities, through the effects of privatisation and the cost of health care. The poor have often to wait longer for basic medical care. The elderly can be disproportionably affected by cost cuts in the health care services, just when they are also victims of cuts in pensions and social assistance.
The challenge of HIV/AIDS is one that we cannot ignore. The statistics concerning Africa are such that they constitute a true disaster, which will end in the loss of life of almost an entire generation. HIV/AIDS is not s simple medical question; it affects the entire fabric of society. It will set back the investment in education, it will decimate the workforce and destroy any economic progress, and it will create huge numbers of orphans. It will weaken the overall health situation, with the return of other diseases through the weakening of the normal immune resources.
AIDS must be addressed on all fronts. The Church plays a leading role in this area. Over 20% of all care of HIV patients is guaranteed by Church agencies. The Church is involved in programmes of education and behaviour change; it is involved in programmes to overcome ignorance. taboos and stigma; it is calling for intensified medical research and the rapid availability of the fruits of that progress, whether to reduce mother-to-child transmission, or through other forms of effective and accessible treatment or a possible vaccine. The Church is a major provider of care of those infected, those who are dying, and those who are orphaned.
The fight against HIV/AIDS is showing us that, as in the case of so many other diseases of our time, it is not just a question of providing medical commodities, but also involves behavioural change to more healthy and responsible life styles. It also involves change on behalf of the entire community that should recognise the person infected with HIV/AIDS as a human being entitled to participate fully in society and realise the God-given capacities he or she possesses.
I was very struck to find in the most recent report of UNAIDS a reference to the fact that the most significant factor in the success of the UN projects in Uganda was raising the age of first sexual relations from 15 to 17. Teaching fidelity and abstinence may not please all: but it works. The Church, because of her mission, must preach fidelity within marriage and responsibility in sexual relations. In doing so it contributes to HIV/AIDS prevention. This does not mean, of course, that the Church will not also bring Christ’s mercy to those who fail in their ability to fully live up to that difficult ideal.
Fundamental option for the poor
The fundamental option is a principle that is in its origins directed towards guiding the behaviour of the Christian believer. It is a form of special love towards the brother or sister who is marginalised and must be restored to a situation in which he or she can realise fully innate human potential
There is also a need for a political or an economic version of this principle, which will ensure that the needs of the poor are addressed directly and with urgency and are not left simply to the possible trickle down of overall wealth. It is true, that today, just as in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, the poor would often be happy with just the crumbs that fall from the rich mans table. But this is not enough.
So many, even well-intentioned, campaigns fail because we do not ensure that they are adequately focused on the specific needs and situations of the poorest or because we fail to provide the type of investment which would enable the poor to enter into the virtuous circle where benefit resides. Debt relief or better trade terms can bring enormous benefits to the poorest countries, but will only do so when they are accompanied by a series of pro-poor investments in formation, capacity building and infrastructures. This involves, of course, not just building policies that favour the poor but also eliminating distortion that exclude the poor. Also at home, our policies of fighting poverty must make a clear step in moving from assistentialism to enabling people. The elderly must be enabled to be as active, socially and economically, for as long as possible and must always be considered subjects in our society and in the decisions which affect their own lives.
A word on the question of migration. Migration will inevitably become one of the typical dimensions of a globalize economy. Humankind constitutes one family. In that context, we need to approach the question of migration policy with a clear head. Intelligent migration policies can benefit both the sending and receiving country, as well as the persons involved and their families. Migrants are people and have rights. They are people with families and we who hold the family in such esteem cannot be insensitive to the family dimensions of immigration policy.
Canada has a positive tradition in welcoming migrants. But it would be foolish to think that many of the anti-immigrant sentiments that are frighteningly emerging in different parts of the world could not emerge here also. The Church must always be in the forefront in rejecting racist or xenophobic tendencies. The institutional recognition of Asylum for refugees is one of the most important advances in international law in the past decades. The 1951 Refugee Convention, which was so farseeing, came at a time in which our Western nations were poor. It would be tragic if our new wealth were to lead backwards towards a lesser sensitivity to the question of refugees.
Migrants are people in whom the sending country may have invested scarce resources. Is it fair for us to simply draw benefit from that investment in people and create a brain drain? We need to look at this question in terms of equitable sharing of the costs.
The fundamental option for the poor must, finally, drive us to identify, in our world and in our societies who are the new poor and the new marginalized. We should not forget that those who are marginalized and forgotten in the past might also be still with us. I think here especially about prisoners. I fear that many of our Christian voters will be surprised when at the last judgement they will not be asked “did you vote to send more prisoners to jail?” but rather “did you visit me?”
Infrastructures and good governance
Realizing concretely the principle of the unity of the human family requires that we have structures, that we have an architecture that ensures harmonious relations between different actors. Such an architecture must be based on ensuring the rule of law and good governance.
Many poorer countries look on the term “good governance” as a new and additional form of conditionality that the developed countries wish to impose on them. We should all remember however that. Wherever the rule of law is not respected, it is almost always the poor who pay the highest price. The poor pay the price of corruption. The poor are the primary victims of violence. The poor pay the price of inefficiency in public services, especially education and health care. The rich will always find the way to create private schools and clinics. In a corrupt system, the poor will never be able to pay for the defence of their rights, while the wealthy will easily be able exploit their position to attain what is not their right.
Our development projects, without drifting into the narrowly political, should place a new emphasis on helping to strengthen institutions and social infrastructures, alongside encouraging a vibrant civil society.
In many countries the integrity of political systems has been damaged by corruption and indeed by what I call “the cost of politics”. I do not know how much it costs in Canada to get elected, but we all have to be alert to addressing any factor that could bring ulterior disillusionment. Many young people around the world do not vote. I am not going to suggest that Bishops should become involved in politics. But there is a role that bishops can play, in their teaching, in encouraging young people to look to politics as a vocation of service to the community and to return a sense of idealism to politics as a vocation and a service. Similarly, international life requires good quality international civil servants.
The universal destination of the goods of creation must also apply to equitable access to the decision-making processes that concern their own future. So many international norms are lopsided, with the result that the human family is a dysfunctional family. The credibility of the international system will depend on its ability to push through reforms of its own institutions as well as the sense of responsibility which all parties are called to use within those institutions. The United Nations Secretary General made a strong appeal in that direction at the opening of the current Session of the General Assembly.
It is important that Bishops in their work for justice should draw attention to the existence of a common good of our human family. That common good will be greatly influenced by the ability and willingness of our nations to work towards more just and equitable international structures. Canada has a well-deserved reputation for its international commitment. It is important that this commitment be constantly inspired by broad debate that raises the concern of citizens beyond purely local and national interest. It is also important that international reflection and action be inspired by moral principles, especially concerning marriage and the family. Here there is an important role of Bishops in ensuring that powerful interest groups do not feel that they have a monopoly in this field.
Fighting poverty today
Poverty is the inability for people to realise their God-given potential. Fighting poverty means that we invest in human capacity, we enable people to be the people that God wishes them to be. We rejoice that they can be so, equal in dignity to us. It means that we personally feel hurt when there are others in the world who are unable to have the same opportunity to fully realise themselves as we are. Our relationship is one based on love and respect for the other as a person.
The fundamental principle of any policy for fighting poverty today is that of enhancing human capacity. People should never the objects of our development policies. They are its subjects. Subjectivity is of the essence of being human. Human beings anywhere in the world are subjects with potential. The more individuals are enabled to realise that potential the better it will be for all. Human rights must therefore be a theme which cross cuts all our social reflection and our programmes of international development. Human rights are the same for all: all have the same yearning for human rights.
Without focused investment in rendering persons subjects, the law may be equal, but not all will be effectively equal in drawing benefit from justice. Without investment in human capacity people may not be able to live out their human rights. Without functioning social infrastructures (an honest and competent judiciary, police force and public administration) people’s rights will not be protected and fostered. Structural reforms may be a necessary dimension of working for justice. But capacity building and formation of people are what put flesh on the skeletons of structures.
Human beings must be enhanced so that they can form subjective, participative human communities, which become the artefacts of their own future. The first such community is the family. Strong families enrich society. Strong families are vital in our work of enabling people and of putting them in charge of their own future.
At times, Church workers claim that they set out to be the voice of the voiceless. I would rather hear them say, we work to give voice to the poor. The poor are their own best spokespersons. They know their own needs. They often know better than outsiders what works and does not work in their area. They show remarkable resourcefulness just in surviving. Where their voice is not heard, we should offer them a platform, not substitute them.
This is very different from the old assistential models which looked only at delivering certain services and programmes. It is also different from the other more modern models that look on the helping professions and development work more or less as business. So many NGO’s turn out effectively to be just the privatised arm of governments. They are looked on as being better able to delivery certain services and – let’s not forget it – they are cheaper. Let me be clear. I am not opposed to cooperation between voluntary Church organizations and governmental and international bodies. Our organizations are indeed entitled to an equitable share of public funds for development and can so often change and improve government policies.
At the same time, it is important to maintain one’s sense of qualitative identity. We have to be attentive to the temptation, that through working with other institutions, we water down that concept of gratuity, which should inspire our work, because we become compromised by policies of narrow national interest, simple budgetary constraints or policies in which liberal economics become the dominant motif.
Church education programmes – as well as health programmes – must always be marked by their excellence. Lack of resources never entitles us to offer poor quality services. The poor are entitled to the best, just as we are. Our services must never humiliate people, by the manner in which they are delivered, but should always enhance the dignity and the self-esteem of people. We are never there any way for ourselves; we are there to foster ownership of the future by the people we serve. We must have the courage to change our institutions, to renew them, to make them the best they can be.
Working for justice can never be understood as taking decisions for other, but in enhancing them to make responsible decisions in the areas that are of their competence. The social teaching of the Church is not a manifesto or an ideological platform. It is a body of principles derived from the gospel that provide criteria for Christian believers to assume responsibility for social action. Working for justice is an important dimension of the mission of the bishop. But his role is that of forming others, forming the wider Christian community to social responsibility through their daily commitment.
We must be respectful of the fact that lay Christians especially are called to make decisions regarding the world on which they work and that we must respect their legitimate autonomy. Our teaching authority does not extend into areas that do not belong to the mandate that comes from preaching the Gospel. The task of the mediation of principles belongs especially to lay persons. Our dialogue, interaction and criticism must be aimed at leading them to a greater maturity in exercising their proper responsibility, which is also derived from the radicalism of the Gospel.
Lay persons in their turn must be proud of the fact that our Church provides them with such a body of teaching to help them identify and apply criteria. I say this because we have many “Nicodemus Catholics” who will tell us by night how much they appreciate our teaching but who would then go into the daylight putting that teaching into a privatised sector of their lives, as if it had no relevance for society nor no right to citizenship in the public square and in the building up of institutions. We have to find new models for making the social teaching of the Church better known and understood.
The scourge of war
War and conflict are among the great causes of poverty and the breakdown of those structures that the poor need in order to be able to change their own future. When wars and conflicts take place among the poor they very quickly become “forgotten conflicts”. The whole heart of Africa lives in a situation of precariousness, which is so often simply ignored. Conflict is not just a political or disarmament issue: it is a human, social, developmental and environmental tragedy. I am sure that if the parents of the countries of central Africa were allowed to ask us in the developed world to do just one thing to help their development they would answer: stop the conflict, stop aiding and abetting the conflict, stop the flow of arms into the conflict.
Catholic teaching has been very important in developing the “just war theory”, or the identification principles that limit recourse to war and which attempt to ensure that the consequences of conflict are as “inhuman as possible”. The Second Vatican Council recalled the theory and the Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly mentions the “just war doctrine” in its §§ 2307 to2309 (on the conditions required for recourse to legitimate defence by military force) and § 2312 to 2314 (on the validity of the moral law during armed conflict).
The Church recognises that a nation has not just the right, but also the obligation to ensure the security of its citizens and to respond to an aggression, even – if under strict conditions – by means of military force. Further, the Pope has stressed in other situations that the community of nations has the obligation to block the hand of an aggressor, when he threatens those who cannot defend themselves.
But the section of the Catechism that deals with the strict conditions for legitimate defence by military force is headed “Avoiding war”. The treatment of the just war doctrine is introduced by the phrase (§2308): “all citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war”. It talks (§2307) about “the evils and injustices that accompany all war”.
In today’s world we need to stress that recourse to violence is no longer an acceptable way to resolve conflicts between States. Pope John Paul II’s firm opposition to war has earned him great respect. His own experience, as a young man, has left him with a horror both of war and of the harm that totalitarian systems can do.
We have to push international leaders to more responsible use of the instruments we have to avoid conflict. We have to renew our commitment – and here again Canada has shown leadership – to programmes of disarmament and of arms control, especially those arms that have enormous humanitarian effects. Humanitarian law itself is called into question when, as is so often the case, civilians are the primary victims of armed conflicts.
Violence however is not limited to war. Our societies are permeated with violence. We have violence in the home. Sexual violence is much more common than we have been prepared to admit. Our roads are places of violence. Many parts of our cities are out of bounds because of violence. Societies are easily be overwhelmed by violence, when mafia-like groups use violence for their own gains, they once again affect the poor. When such violence is not addressed, the poor may paradoxically turn to those who oppress them to find protection. They will turn to those who protect their interest in the short term – the criminal gangs – rather than those who should be protecting their rights. I was shocked since returning to Dublin by the number of murders that take place, the result of a shameless gun culture, often managed by powerful criminals whose business is to destroy so many lives in another way, through the sale of drugs. This is something we can ignore only at our risk.
Pastores Gregis notes: “peace is everyone’s responsibility, a responsibility which passes through the thousand little acts which make up everyday life. It awaits its prophets and its builders who should be found especially in the ecclesial communities of which the Bishop is the pastor”. Part of the bishops’ task is that of encouraging believers that their small gestures of peace and of solidarity can in fact bring about change. It is about showing that apathy and disinterest only leads to resignation and not to the hope that our world requires.
The integrity of creation
It is often felt that the environment is the poor relation among the themes of the social teaching of the Church. There is in fact a wealth of teaching available that we have probably not valued sufficiently. The human family, as we know it, was given the earth and creation as its home. Humankind was entrusted with the mission of maintaining the original harmony that God gave his creation, in which the various elements were individually created and each was seen as good.
Progress is not inevitably linked with environmental degradation. Many of the most successful policies of environmental protection and regeneration have taken place in highly developed countries. It requires vision, sound policies and the willingness to challenge those powerful interests who are slow to change, but who will change when they see that public opinion and consumer pressure are not on their side. But environmentally friendly policies may not necessarily be inexpensive and will require an equitable distribution of the share of such costs, so that all of society can benefit.
Some express the fear that the Church’s response to the environmental challenge is too anthropocentric and places the human person in a position of dominance, rather than of true stewardship. The Encyclical Centesimus Annus (#37) is however also very critical of human behaviour and its consequences for the environment. It stresses that at the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error, in which humans believe that they can make arbitrary use of the earthy, as though the earth itself did nor have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose.
A vision of the integrity of creation will in fact produce an important corrective to our understanding of the human person, reminding humans that we did not create the world with our own hands and that we should never attempt to set ourselves up in the place of God.
In today’s concrete situation, a reflection on ecological questions should address the question of water. Water is a gift of God, with biblical significance. Our heavily urbanised world needs to undergo an ecological conversion concerning the way we use or misuse water.
The question of water would also draw us into the problem of the domination of economic values in addressing ecological questions. Certainly, market mechanisms can help us to arrive at a realistic use and sharing of resources. But there are certain realities, which are so vital for humanity and for the integrity of creation, that they require that other values than economic also be taken into consideration and considered primary.
I began by recalling my belief that the primary thrust of the Bishop’s concern for social issues should be anthropological. It must be centred on the dignity of the human person, the unity of the human family and the integrity of creation. I refer to an anthropological viewpoint that stresses the dignity, the rights and the potential of every human person, but that is not individualistic. Our reflection of human rights, therefore, should lead away from the often narrowly individualistic influence of current human rights reflection.
I have stressed above all human capacity. If we believe that everyone is created in God’s image, then we should invest in people. We should invest in their potential, in the gifts they have received from God. When this potential remains under-realised, God’s creation has not been allowed to come to its full realisation.
The Church’s social teaching is about hope in people. It must become a message of hope for people. It can become a message of hope if we manage, in a world dominated by utilitarian motives and greed, to permit people to experience that they have been touched by something very different: by the manifestation of the love of God, who took on our humanity in Jesus Christ. That love, that charity treats them generously as brother and sisters asking nothing in return. Being a prophet of justice means being a prophet of charity, passionately concerned for the deeper questions that affect humanity today.