The Pope to the Italian magistrates: justice accompanies the search for peace

On the morning of this Friday, April 8, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the Superior Council of the Italian Judiciary, whom he encouraged to administer justice, choosing in their conscience “for whom”, “how” and “why” do justice.

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“May the sense of justice fueled by solidarity with those who are victims of injustice, and fueled by the desire to see a kingdom of justice and peace come to pass, not be extinguished in you”, was the encouragement from Pope Francis to the members of the Superior Council of the Italian Judiciary, whom he received in audience this Friday morning, April 8, in the Paul VI hall of the Vatican.

A service in favor of the dignity of the human person

Welcoming the judicial authorities of the courts and the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the Holy Father recalled that the Italian Constitution entrusts them with a particular vocation, which is both a gift and a task because “justice is rendered in the name of the village » ; they are therefore called to the noble and delicate mission of representing “the body which guarantees the autonomy and independence of ordinary judges and which has the task of administering the jurisdiction”. And commenting on the scene of the widow who asks for justice in chapter 18 of the Gospel of Luke, the Pontiff said that “even today, hearing the cry of the voiceless who suffer injustice helps them to transform power that they have received Orders in a service in favor of the dignity of the human person and the common good”.

“Give to each what corresponds to him” with “mercy”

Likewise, Pope Francis recalled the traditional definition of justice as “the will to give to each what corresponds to him”. However, said the Supreme Pontiff, throughout history the administration of justice has established “what is due” in different ways: according to merit, according to need, according to ability, according to utility. For the biblical tradition, the pope specified, what must be recognized is human dignity as sacred and inviolable. Additionally, classical art depicted justice as a blindfolded woman holding scales with balanced scales, thus allegorically expressing the equality, fairness, and impartiality required in the administration of justice. According to the Bible, justice must also be administered with mercy. But no political reform of justice can change the lives of those who administer it, if they do not first choose in conscience “for whom”, “how” and “why” to dispense justice. This is what Saint Catherine of Siena taught when she said that to reform oneself, one must first reform oneself.

“For whom”, “how” and “why” do justice

The question about the for which Doing justice always illuminates a relationship with this “you”, this “face”, to which we owe an answer: to the person of the prisoner who must be rehabilitated, to the victim with his pain who must be accompanied, to those whose rights and obligations they contest, the vigilante who must be made responsible and, in general, every citizen who must be educated and made aware. For this reason, the culture of restorative justice is the only true antidote against revenge and oblivion, since it seeks to repair the broken bonds and allows the recovery of the land stained by the blood of the brother (cf. n. 252 ). This is the path that, following the social teaching of the Church, I wanted to indicate in the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, as a condition of fraternity and social friendship.

Justice is where peace is founded

Cain’s violent and unjust act, the Holy Father stressed, is not directed against the enemy or the stranger: it is perpetrated against those of the same blood. Cain cannot stand the love of God the Father for Abel, the brother with whom he shares his own life. How not to think of our historical era of widespread globalization, in which humanity finds itself increasingly interconnected and yet increasingly fragmented into a myriad of existential solitudes? The proposal of the biblical vision is, at the center of its message, the image of a fraternal identity of all humanity, understood as the “human family”: a family in which to recognize oneself as brothers is a task that must be worked together and constantly.

Do justice with discernment

Thus, the historical question of “how” justice is administered always involves reforms. The Gospel of John, in chapter 15, teaches us to prune dead branches without amputating the tree of justice, to oppose power struggles, clientelism, various forms of corruption, neglect and unjust positions of income. Instead, the “why” of administering refers us to the sense of the virtue of justice, which becomes for you an undergarment: not an outfit to change or a role to conquer, but the very sense of their identity. personal and social. For the Bible, “knowing how to do justice” is the objective of those who want to govern wisely, while discernment is the condition for distinguishing good from evil.

Justice as a cardinal virtue par excellence

Pope Francis also reminded magistrates that the philosophical tradition has designated justice as the cardinal virtue par excellence, to the achievement of which prudence contributes, when general principles must be applied to specific situations, as well as force and temperance, which improve their performance. The biblical account does not reveal an abstract idea of ​​justice, but rather a concrete experience of a “just” man. The trial of Jesus is emblematic: the people demand to condemn the righteous and free the wicked. Pilate asks, “What has this man done wrong? then he washes his hands. When the great powers join forces for their own preservation, the righteous pay all. Credibility of testimony, love of justice, authority, independence vis-à-vis other constituted powers and a loyal pluralism of positions are the antidotes to prevent the political influences, inefficiencies and various dishonesties of prevail. Governing the Judiciary according to virtue means once again being the high guard and the synthesis of the exercise to which they are called.

Blessed Rosario Livatino, do her work with justice

Therefore, so that you may accomplish this noble task, the Holy Father has asked that Blessed Rosario Livatino, the first beatified magistrate in the history of the Church, be your help and consolation. “In the dialectic between rigor and consistency, on the one hand, and humanity, on the other, Livatino had outlined his idea of ​​service in the judiciary, thinking of women and men capable of walking with history and in society, within which not only the judges, but all the agents of the social pact are called upon to do their work according to justice”. When we die, Livatino said, no one will ask us how believable we were. Livatino was assassinated when he was only thirty-eight, leaving us with the strength of his credible testimony, but also the clarity of an idea of ​​the judiciary to which we should aspire.

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