Pope Francis at the inauguration of the 94th Judicial Year in the Vatican Pope Francis at the inauguration of the 94th Judicial Year in the Vatican  (Vatican Media)

Pope opens Vatican Judicial Year: There is no peace without justice

Addressing judges and magistrates for the opening of the 94th Judicial Year of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State Pope Francis recalls that every commitment to peace requires a commitment to justice, and that justice and mercy always walk together.

By Lisa Zengarini

“Peace without justice is not true peace, it has no solid foundations or possibilities for a future.” Pope Francis stressed this point as he addressed on Saturday judges and magistrates for the opening of  the 94th Judicial Year of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State.

Attending the inauguration were also Italian Minister of Justice Carlo Nordio and the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister Alfredo Mantovano, along with  several representatives of the highest judicial bodies of the Italian state.

In the first part of his address, Pope Francis reflected on the close link between justice and peace.

He referred specifically to the “tragic evolution” of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine which, he noted, after the pandemic, has “plunged the whole world back into a deep crisis, aggravated by the multiple outbreaks of war that continue to flare up in other nations”, exposing humanity to the risk of self-destruction.

Every commitment to peace requires a commitment to justice

In the face of this dramatic scenario and "in a world discouraged by violence and war”, Pope Francis recalled that Christians are called to heed Jesus’ prophetic announcement of the Good News by bearing witness to help build peace and justice.

Indeed,  “every commitment to peace implies and requires a commitment to justice” which, said the Pope, “is not an abstraction or a utopia” and “is not only the result of a set of rules to be applied with technical expertise”. It is, rather,  “the virtue by which we give everyone what they are entitled to”, which is “indispensable for the correct functioning of every area of common life and for everyone to lead a peaceful life”

“Justice is a virtue to be cultivated through the commitment of personal conversion, and to be exercised together with the other cardinal virtues of prudence, fortitude and temperance.”

Vatican trials a painful necessity

Pope Francis went on to highlight that the Tribunals of the Vatican City State operate in this perspective, “playing a precious role to the benefit of the Holy See” in settling civil and criminal cases. 

He referred in particular to the financial criminal trials conducted in recent years against Vatican officials. In this regard the Pope remarked that what should be of concern are not so much the trials per se, but the investigated facts and criminal misconduct by members of the Church, which, he said, "have seriously harmed  its effectiveness in reflecting the light of God.”  

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Justice and mercy

Bringing his remarks to a close, Pope Francis dwelled on the importance for Vatican Justice "to find a balance between justice and mercy” when ascertaining cases of misconduct “that obscure the face of the Church" and cause scandal . 

The Pope suggested that “the exercise of rigorous discernment”, as well as the “prudent recourse to the canon of equity”, can help reach this balance.  

Indeed, he said,  “Mercy and justice are not alternative,  but walk together towards the same goal, because mercy is not the suspension of justice, but its fulfillment”. 

“The Church fulfills her mandate above all when she bears witness, in word and deed, to the mercy which she herself has freely received.”

Concluding Pope Francis, therefore, invited the Vatican magistrates to keep this in mind in their work to seek truth and justice.

“The path of justice makes fraternity, where all are protected, especially the weakest,  possible”


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25 February 2023, 13:12