Daniel Darmanin and Mark Cachia from Justice and Peace (Malta) joined other participants from Europe, Africa, Oceania and Asia in an online conference for Justice and Peace Commissions which was hosted on Wednesday 17th November by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Following the establishment of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development in 2016, the need has emerged for a dialogue with ecclesial bodies working for justice and peace, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the light of the Encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli tutti. As a result, the aims of this conference were the following:    

–        take stock of the new situation;

–        identify the current challenges facing Justice and Peace Commissions;

–        re-launch the collaboration between them and the Dicastery;

–        encourage the creation of a network of these Commissions, also through the exchange of experiences and good practices.

Pope Francis kicked off the two-day conference with a message to encourage participants in their mission to foster human development in their home countries. The Pope praised the work of the local commissions as “an indispensable service” to the social-pastoral work of the Church.

“They have the task of spreading knowledge of the social doctrine of the Church,” he said, “working concretely for the protection of the dignity of the human person and of human rights, with a preferential option for the poor and the most abandoned.” In carrying out that mission, he added, the commissions contribute to the growth of “social, economic, and ecological justice, while sowing peace.”

The Pope encouraged participants in the conference to look to his encyclicals Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti for inspiration, and to inculturate the Gospel in their own societies. “In every part of the world,” said Pope Francis, “integral development—and therefore justice and peace—can be built only through these two paths: care for our common home, and fraternity and social friendship.”

These twin paths, he said, find their origin in the Gospel of Christ, though they can be pursued with the faithful of other Christian confessions and religions.

Justice and Peace Commissions from Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada and the United States will take part in the second day of the conference on Thursday 18th November.