Audience with members of the High Council of the Judiciary Audience with members of the High Council of the Judiciary  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Justice must always accompany the search for peace

In an audience granted to Italy’s High Council of the Judiciary, Pope Francis insists that justice requires truth, trust, loyalty and purity of intention; and that the call to administer justice is a gift and a duty at the service of human dignity and the common good.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The members of Italy’s High Council of the Judiciary (Consiglio superiore della magistratura, CSM, which regulates the ordinary judiciary in the country) are called to “a noble and delicate mission,” said Pope Francis during an audience with the Council on Friday.

They have the responsibility of responding to the demands of the people for justice, which in turn demands truth, trust, loyalty, and purity of intention.

Those entrusted with administering justice are likewise called to listen “to the cry of those who have no voice and who suffer injustice,” the Pope added, noting that their vocation is a duty at the service of human dignity and the common good.

The Holy Father recalled that the very idea of “justice,” of rendering to everyone what is due to them, is rooted in tradition, but that an understanding of what precisely is due to the other has changed in different times and places.

In the biblical tradition, he said, “what is due is to recognize human dignity as sacred and inviolable.”

Judicial reform

Considering the need for periodic reform of the justice system, Pope Francis called to mind St Catherine of Siena, one of the patron saints of Italy, who taught that in order to reform something, one must first reform oneself. In the context of a reform of the judicial system, the Pope said, this means asking “for whom” justice is administered, “how” it is administered, and “why” it is administered.

The Holy Father that the question “for whom” implies a relationship, noting that as our world has become more connected, it has paradoxically become more fragmented. In this context, restorative justice, based on relationships, can be recognized as the “only true antidote to revenge and oblivion, because it looks to the recomposition of broken bonds and allows the reclamation of the land stained by the blood of the brother.”

Likewise, the question of “how” justice is administered in practice can pass through many reforms, while recognising that peace can only be founded in justice. And then, in response to the question of “why” one acts justly, Pope Francis appealed to the consciences of those who administer justice, insisting that a commitment to justice must be internalised, a part of one’s personal and social identity.

Recalling the great figure of Solomon from the Old Testament, Pope Francis said that doing justice must be “the goal of those who wish to govern wisely, while discernment is the condition for distinguishing good from evil.”

Pope Francis offered the counter-example of Pontius Pilate, who, motivated by political concerns bowed to the will of the people in condemning Jesus, while “washing his hands” of any interest in true justice.

“The credibility of testimony, love for justice, authority, independence from other constituted powers and a loyal pluralism of positions are the antidotes to prevent political influences, inefficiencies and various dishonesty from prevailing.”

The example of Rosario Livatino

Finally, the Pope offered the positive, concrete example Judge Rosario Livatino, the first judge to be formally beatified, who “in the dialectic between rigor and consistency on the one hand, and humanity on the other … had outlined his idea of service in the judiciary thinking of women and men capable of walking with history and in society,” with judges and civil leaders “called to carry out their work according to justice.” Blessed Rosario, who was assasinated by the mafia in 1990, has left us not only a “credible testimony,” the Pope said, but a clear idea of what the judiciary should be.

“Justice,” he explained, “must always accompany the search for peace, which presupposes truth and freedom.”

Addressing the members of the High Council directly, Pope Francis concluded by expressing his hope that “the sense of justice nourished by solidarity with those who are the victims of injustice, and nourished by the desire to see a kingdom of justice and peace come to pass, maynot be extinguished in you.”

08 April 2022, 14:15