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Which of these do you think proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" And the lawyer said, "The one who showed mercy toward him. Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
(Luke 10:36-37)

The Catholic Church, in fidelity to her evangelical mission, wishes to be at the service of all humanity, of today's society, so often threatened or attacked. For this reason she strives to maintain friendly relations with all civil authorities…. Ladies and gentlemen, yours is a splendid mission : to be the heralds of universality, the builders of peace among nations, the promoters of a new and just world.

(John Paul II)

Peace, Justice and Compassion

Overview: Peace, Justice and Compassion

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In catechisms of former days, the concern of the People of God that peoples near and far might “have life and have it abundantly” was summarized in fourteen succinct statements: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit those in prison; bury the dead; admonish sinners; instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; comfort the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; forgive injuries; pray for the living and the dead.  

That concern continues today, not only through individuals, but also through organizations and movements, which can sometimes accomplish what individuals cannot.  These organizations are “evangelizers of hope in the modern world,” according to the Canadian Bishops, who frame that aspect of Christian life this way:

Another way that we can be "symbol" and "artisan" of God's Reign, is through a commitment to justice, to the transformation of our world according to God's loving plan. In 1971, participants at the Roman Synod affirmed that "the fight for justice is a constitutive dimension of our mission to announce the Good News." This entire field of the social teaching of the Church has been synthesized into the "Compendium” published by the Vatican in recent years. Pope Benedict XVI just published his social encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" on integral human development, taking into consideration the current reality.  Yet, this dimension of the Gospel still remains the "best kept secret" of the Church. Many of the faithful who are most involved in the Church, even in its movements and associations, are not yet able to make the link between the Risen Lord, the Gospel, and the commitment to justice.

In Christifideles Laici, his post-Synodal exhortation on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful, Pope John Paul II reiterated many areas in which Christ's disciples could commit themselves to serve individuals and the community, thus bearing witness to the Good News of God's Reign: it is interesting to note how the present movements and associations are often already at work in these areas.

  • Promotion of the dignity of the person: this dimension is at the heart of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and COLF's (Catholic Organization for Life and Family) priorities. Faith and Light (Foi et Lumière) reveal the gift of an intellectually handicapped person to their family, the Church and society. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society promotes the dignity of the destitute. The Catholic Women's League of Canada recognizes the human dignity of all persons wherever they are and seeks to enhance the role of women in the Church and in society.
  • Respect of the inviolable right to life: the Knights of Columbus make the protection of life, from conception to natural death, a priority - as does COLF.  The Catholic Women's League of Canada seeks to protect the sacred character of human life.
  • Commitment to religious freedom: the Catholic Women's League of Canada seeks to contribute to the understanding and growth of religious freedom.
  • Commitment to the family: this is what the Knights of Columbus seek, particularly through their life insurance policies. In recent years, they have been involved in the promotion of the traditional definition of marriage. COLF seeks to build a culture of life and a civilization of love, 
    • through the promotion of the respect for life, human dignity, and the essential role of the family. 
    • through forms of volunteer work;
    • in the political realm;
    • in socio-economic life: 
  • Development and Peace seeks to support the actions of people of the South so that they can take their destiny into their own hands and to raise awareness among people here about issues related to the North-South imbalance. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society seeks to serve the poor, to relieve the suffering and to promote the dignity and integrity of people. The Catholic Women's League of Canada promotes social justice.
  • Cultural life: Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry seeks to bring the Gospel into the heart of the academic world. The Canadian Catholic Students' Association works to nurture Christian student leadership, and to support prayerful, prophetic, and pastoral action with the context of Canadian post-secondary education. Their motto: "Uniting students who witnesses to the Gospel on campus." The Organization for Communications and Society (L'Organisation Communications et Société) promotes from a Christian perspective quality in the media, the development of a good critical sense, and ethical and spiritual values in the world of media and communications. (2009 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops  Forum With National Catholic Associations And Movements)

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