“The struggle for social justice . . . is founded on Christ rather than on a false and more or less collectivistic anthropology.”
“Love and Truth shall meet, Justice and Peace shall kiss” (Ps. 85)
When the Rwandan judge of Kigali proclaimed the innocence of Monseigneur Misago on June 15, 2000 at the end of a long trial, thunderous applause greeted the good news of the justice that is still possible in this little African country, which suffered genocide in 1994. At the other end of the spectrum, as these tragic events were taking place, a verdict of innocence in a court in California brought the famous criminal trial of O.J. Simpson to a close, revealing the fragility of human justice to the eyes of the world. “Render to each his due” is a noble ideal, old as humanity itself, but one that is becoming increasingly utopian as secularized societies lose the objective and transcendent foundation for this rule of wisdom. Today, we experience the paradox of a legal “justice” dissociated from the just order [droit],1 without a genuine anthropological grounding, which abandons legislators to the mercy of lobby groups. Such a paradox calls the Christian to bear witness and do battle, especially when the fundamental rights of the human person are being flouted. As the dawn of the third Christian millennium breaks, we thus discover the need for a renewed battle for justice, a battle that must be waged at a more profound level than the merely social level, in the face of the new challenges posed by pluralistic societies. The stakes and the foundations of this battle are sketched out in the following reflections on “covenantal justice.”
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1. [The French word “droit,” which is translated into English by both “law” and “right,” indicates in addition the objective natural order upon which these are based. We thus translate it here in general as “the just order,” or something similar, depending on context.—Tr.]