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Justice and Peace

Justice and Peace
A Pastoral message of the Catholic Bishops of Rhodesia
2 January 1972

Pope Paul in his message for the World Day of peace has asked that 1972 be observed as a year in which all of us work for Justice and Peace. He says, “If you want peace work for justice.”

With this request in mind the Bishops have since July consulted a considerable number of people to discover how they can best carry out the Pope’s request.

When Christ was on earth by His example and teaching He gave his followers a message of love. This love is expressed in the commandment which requires that we do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us. We all profess to follow Christ and we will want to see that his message of justice and Love is put into effect in our society.

With this aim in view we must examine ourselves in the context of our society and see if there be found injustice among us. If we find that there is, then we must see what we can do to eradicate it and to promote justice.

In this coming year a programme of education and action in these matters will be proposed. This is really an honest and sincere attempt to be sure that our house is in order. To help us all to do this our Commission for Justice and Peace will prepare a study leaflet each month. These leaflets will deal with aspects of the Church’s social teaching; that is to say with putting the Christian Gospel into practice here and now. It is hoped that discussion groups will be organised in all parishes and that each month will be spent in a serious study of the particular subject outlined. We should all be involved in the examination of ourselves and our relationships with others; after all Christ’s greatest message was “Love one another”.
During this examination, we should all realise the need for honesty with ourselves, for continued and sincere prayer, and for mutual trust. Only by constant and generous working for Justice can Peace be established in society.
  • Francis W. Markall, S.J., Archbishop of Salisbury
  • Aloysius Haene, S.M.B., Bishop of Gwelo
  • Adolph G. Schmitt, C.M.M., Bishop of Bulawayo
  • Donal R. Lamont, O. Carm., Bishop of Umtali
  • Ignatius Prieto, S.M.I., Bishop of Wankie

Are All Men Equal: Suggested Sermon

January 1972

Thank God all men are not equal! Life would be very dull. Thank God we are not all university lecturers. Thank God for dustmen – it takes a strike to make us appreciate the people who empty our dustbins. Thank God not everyone goes around in a Mercedes Benz. Thank God some of us are strong and beautiful or fat and ugly. Thank God we meet people anywhere in the world – complete strangers – who will stop to help you.
Thank God for these inequalities! But are they important? Are they as important as the things we have in common? What is the most important thing about a man? His education, his job, his race, his size? If not these, what is? When we go to a foreign country for a holiday, most of us are delighted to meet somebody from our own country. Although we don’t know him for Adam, we hail him as a long lost brother – at home we wouldn’t look at him. This means that abroad you realise you have this thing in common – your being Rhodesian – which is more important than the fact that you come from different backgrounds, went to different schools and have different interests.
In the same kind of way there is something that we have in common, not with all Rhodesians, but our being people or persons. Because each and every one of us has been created in God’s image, we each of us have this great potential for knowing and living that make us so very different from even the most intelligent animal. In their letters the Popes often refer to this as our ‘human dignity’. The word itself may be worn thin with overuse, but if we didn’t believe in it, parents wouldn’t lavish as much care – or more – on their mongol child as they do on their other children; and we wouldn’t continue to waste time and money on people who are old or insane or useless – or even those who are a menace. This belief in the basic value of each and every person shows that at some deep level – at which our inequalities are unimportant – men are equal. It is a pity that often it needs a disaster in which we are all involved to bring this home to us.
Is there anything we can do to make this belief more real in our normal life? Can we make our human relationships more human? So often an employer can be interested purely in the job being done, but not at all in the person doing it; and the employee likewise can be interested purely in the pay packet at the end of the week, but not at all in the person employing him. Rather than say ‘we have nothing in common’, could we not try to talk and listen to one another as two people? We may find that we have more in common than we think.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.
How do you measure the worth or value of one person over against another? Has the university lecturer more value than your dustman? Or the sportsman of the year more value than a permanent cripple?
2.
All this talk about ‘human dignity’ – what’s dignified about a person who is always drunk, or who neglects his family, or who refuses to pay debts?
3.
Catholics all over the world are fighting against legislation to facilitate abortion. Why?
4.
Jesus once astonished a person simply because he spoke to her. Who was this woman and why was she astonished? (Jn. 4).
5.
Some people object to the term ‘baas’ and ‘boy’. Africans themselves use these terms. So why should they be considered objectionable?
6.
Does the Church expect employers to entertain their servants?

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS

1.
In your home. It is characteristic of a Christian to remember that women have equal dignity to men. Women with children, and old people, should be shown special consideration. A very polite, yet friendly way of addressing a married man or woman is to use the name of one of his children, e.g. Baba wa-Simon (father of Simon). Try not to use ‘boy’ and don’t let your children use it. We all have names, e.g. Mr Smith or Mr Chifamba. If we know a person well, use his Christian name or his Shona name. ‘Sir’ sounds better than ‘baas’. Avoid ‘iwe’, except to children. In addressing grown ups, normally use the polite plural, even though you may be in a position of authority over them (you may be a policeman), e.g. Munogara kupi?
2.
At work, use the same principles as under 1. Shouting is usually a sign of weakness or fear. The expression ‘one boy!’ is degrading. Remember he’s a person, perhaps older than yourself. Why not learn a few Shona greetings – morning, afternoon, evening – they go a long way.
3.
In shops, we should all wait our turn, unless there is some special reason for jumping the queue, but not because we are European or African.
4.
Travelling – in getting on buses, we should wait our turn. The man next to you may be smaller than you, but he has as much right to a place as you.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

1.
Scripture: Book of Wisdom – What the writer thought about it: Like all the others, I too am a mortal man, descendant of the first being fashioned from the earth, I was modelled in flesh within my mother’s womb, for ten months taking shape in her blood by means of virile seed and pleasure, sleep’s companion. I too, when I was born, drew in the common air, I fell on the same ground that bears us all the rest. I was nurtured swaddling clothes, with every care. No king has known any other beginning of existence; for all there is one way only onto life, as out of it. (Chapter 7: 1-6).
2.
Vatican II: Church in the Modern World – What the Church thinks: Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ, and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality must receive increasingly greater recognition. True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power, and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent
  Moreover, although rightful differences exist between men, the equal dignity of persons demands that a more humane and just condition of life be brought about. For excessive economic and social differences between the members of the one human family or population groups cause scandal, and militate against social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, as well as social and international peace. (No. 29).
3.
Every person is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in this schedule (i.e. Declaration of Rights) without unjust discrimination on the grounds of race, tribe, political opinion, colour or creed. (Constitution 1969, Declaration of Rights, No. 10).
4.
Bear in mind that “the natural rights of man are inseparably connected with just as many respective duties; for example, the right to a decent standard of living with a duty of living it becomingly, the right to investigate truth freely, with the duty of seeking it and possessing it.” (Peace on Earth, paras. 28, 29).
5.
The voice of the people: a Shona saying, Pasi panodya zvikomba (lit. the earth eats rich men, i.e. every man has to die). Death is the great equaliser.
(Prepared by the Justice and Peace Commission at the request of the Rhodesia Catholic Bishops’ Conference.)

Are All Men My Brothers? - A Suggested Sermon

February 1972

Mahatama Gandhi once remarked that he loved Christ, but hated the Christians. Gandhi could see very little of Christ in the Christians with whom he came into contact. There is a certain smugness about the lives of most of us. We profess openly that we love God and Christ. People are becoming very sceptical about words, and are beginning to ask for proofs of our sincerity. If we should be asked to prove our love for Christ, I wonder what would be our reactions.
It may come as shock to us at first to know that our sincerity in loving God and Christ can only be demonstrated in our love and attitude towards our neighbour. This is the challenge in our lives. God is loved and served in others, for it is in others that He demands to be recognised and loved:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me; in prison and you came to see me.” (Mt. 25:35).
God does not demand to be known, loved, and served only in those we find congenial, those of our own culture, those of our own views. No, God is known and loved in all others for EVERY MAN IS MY BROTHER. Every man must be treated as my brother, not for my own sake, or for his sake but for the sake of God. The two great commandments:“You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”, and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”, (Lk. 10:27) are not disjointed nor separate, but one. John in his Epistle tells us that the man who loves God must be one who loves his neighbour as well, since “A man who does not love his brother that he can see, cannot love God whom he has never seen”. (1 Jn. 4: 20).
Some time ago the film “Love Story” was shown in different parts of Rhodesia. It was described as romantic, moving, touching and tragic. Many who saw the film were moved to tears as they witnessed the drama of life between two young people develop and ultimately end in death. Others identified themselves with the hero or heroine of the story, but what most of us forget was that all around us the drama of “Love Story” is being enacted daily, nightly, and even hourly. For the most part, we never even see it, and consequently, we are not moved to tears or action.
In our cities, towns, villages Christ in the person of our neighbour, is in prison, sick, misunderstood, denied his rights, treated inhumanly, and we are not aware of it, or perhaps we do not want to be aware.

“If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes, an has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well, keep yourself warm, and have plenty’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?” (James 2:15-16).
Every man is my brother and every time I insult or offend any man, I am doing the same to Christ.

POINTS FOR DISCUSSION

1.
Communism appears to be more concerned than Catholicism with the equality of men.
 
For discussion see pages 218-219, THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II, Abbott and Gallagher (Editors). Not especially, “The remedy which be applied to atheism, however, is to be sought in a proper presentation of the Church’s teaching as well as in the integral life of the Church and her members.” (p.219.)
 
Has the Church failed in a proper presentation of her teaching?
2.
Christians profess a common fatherhood, God. Why should we not have a common religion?  For discussion, see page 306, THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II. “Let there be unity in what is necessary, freedom in what is unsettled, and charity in any case.”
3.
Every man is my brother. Is this simply an ideology, or a reality? For discussion, see the parable of the Good Samaritan.
4.
If every man is my brother, why is there class distinction?
5.
Has the Church succeeded in drawing rich and poor together?

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS

1.
To avoid the occasions where habit tends to separate us, e.g. transport, queues, lifts.
2.
Not to avoid being served by an African bank-teller or clerk in a post office.
3.
To accept a lift from an African or ask for a cigarette or light from an African – in general to welcome opportunities of being a receiver.
4.
To give lifts to fellow Africans for nothing.
5.
To establish contacts between European and African parishes.
6.
To encourage more understanding and co-operation between Shona and Malawi Catholics in our parishes.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

An American Episcopalian, looking out over the city of New York wrote the following:
“O Christ, who is uneducated,
Unskilled, unwanted and unemployed,
Help us to know You
Christ, whose job at the factory is gone
Because the factory closed and left the city,
Help us to know You.
O Christ who sleeps in bed with brothers and sisters,
Who cries, but none hears him,
Help us to touch You.
O Christ who smells and
Has no place to wash,
Help us to be with You.
O Christ who is voiceless, and without power,
And has no share in shaping his own destiny,
Help us to join You.
O Christ who is all men,
Help us to love you.
Help us to be with You.”
Robert Castle
“But it is even more tragic to watch the so-called Christians who want fatherhood without brotherhood, who want to be sons of the Father without being brothers of the other sons. It is no fault of the unbelievers if they err. They have not been told of these things. But the same cannot be said of us! “Urged by our Saviour’s bidding, schooled … we make bold to say, Our Father.”
(‘We dare to say Our Father’, Louis Evely)
“The equality of all men is based, as is well known, on their common origin and destiny as members of the human family: Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.” (Gadium et Spes, 29). “This equality demands an ever more explicit recognition in civil society of every human being’s essential rights, even though this equality demands an ever more explicit recognition in civil society of every human being’s essential rights, even though this equality does not cancel but rather acknowledges and brings into harmony personal differences and the diversity of function in the community. Consequently, the aspirations of men desiring to enjoy those rights which flow from their dignity as human persons are wholly legitimate.” (Pope Paul VI’s Message to Africa, 1967).
(Prepared by the Justice and Peace Commission at the request of the Rhodesia Catholic Bishops’ Conference.)