Pacem In Terris 91-93: In Justice

Today in Pacem in Terris, justice is not just a matter for individuals:

91. Relations between States must furthermore be regulated by justice. This necessitates both the recognition of their mutual rights, and, at the same time, the fulfilment of their respective duties.

A list of states’ rights:

92. States have the right

  • to existence,
  • to self development,
  • and to the means necessary to achieve this.
  • They have the right to play the leading part in the process of their own development,
  • and the right to their good name and due honors.

Consequently, States are likewise in duty bound to safeguard all such rights effectively, and to avoid any action that could violate them. And just as individual(s) may not pursue their own private interests in a way that is unfair and detrimental to others, so too it would be criminal in a State to aim at improving itself by the use of methods which involve other nations in injury and unjust oppression. There is a saying of St. Augustine which has particular relevance in this context: “Take away justice, and what are kingdoms but mighty bands of robbers “(De civitate Dei, lib. IV, c. 4; PL 41. 115; cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1939, AAS 32 (1940) 5-13)

Do we live in a world in which these “mighty bands of robbers” exist and prey on the weak? It’s not just nations, but powerful corporations.

93. There may be, and sometimes is, a clash of interests among States, each striving for its own development. When differences of this sort arise, they must be settled in a truly human way, not by armed force nor by deceit or trickery. There must be a mutual assessment of the arguments and feelings on both sides, a mature and objective investigation of the situation, and an equitable reconciliation of opposing views.

Praise and hope for diplomacy and negotiation. Yet we know from the intervening half-century that maturity, objectivity, and reconciliation take a back seat all too often to deception and tricks. Have we any hope?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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