“Social justice is the foundation of peace”

The Major Superiors of around 120 male religious congregations convened near Rome during the week of 24 May. The organization’s President is Fr Arturo Sosa. In a lecture titled ‘Encounter as a Dimension of Cultures and a Path to Peace’, he addressed a topic near and dear to his heart. He connected the desire for peace, which is a main goal in these difficult times, with the fundamental dimension of Christian experience and the encounter. Here are some highlights from his presentation.

Excerpts from

Encounter as a Dimension of Cultures and a Path to Peace

Fr. Arturo Sosa, President of the Union of Superiors General (USG)

Culture(s) and multiculturalism

Making the “encounter” the essential and permanent dimension of the cultures in which we move is the heart of the reflections I share with you on this occasion. We have recalled how structural injustice generates situations of disagreement or “dis-encounter”. The challenge of the mission we have received is to take effective steps towards fraternity and peace. Developing the dimension of encounter within the cultures that give meaning to our lives becomes, therefore, an indispensable requirement for progress. Encounter is that dimension of cultures which serves as an instrument to help overcome injustice, transform society and achieve reconciliation with persons, peoples and the natural environment in which all life develops.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is presented as a light for all human cultures. Jesus was born, raised, and lived in a certain culture, yet his gospel transcends all cultural boundaries. He and his disciples understood, not without difficulty, that the Word of God is addressed to every human being and every culture. The gospel can become incarnate in each and every human culture. Like the leaven that penetrates the dough, the gospel becomes embodied in cultures and opens them to the possibility of meeting with God, with others and with nature. All cultures need this healing encounter to grow in humanity.

Encounter at the breaking of bread

In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis describes the encounter of the Samaritan with the wounded man abandoned on the road to show how fraternity is created. The Samaritan is not ensnared in a way of living his culture that prevents him from reaching out to encounter the person who needs his help. On the contrary, the dimension of encounter opens his eyes to human needs without making distinctions. The cultural dimension of encounter makes it possible to care for other wounded persons, peoples and cultures. It makes it possible to embrace them and to offer every means to heal wounds, build bridges and foster fraternity.

Guiding our steps along the path of peace

The longing for peace has been present in human cultures throughout a long history filled with violence and wars. Now, in the midst of a “piecemeal third world war“, as Pope Francis describes it, we aspire to a lasting peace that goes beyond the silence of arms. Peace is founded on social justice.

As long as there is no transformation of the socioeconomic structure that generates poverty and sustains the scandalous differences between some peoples and others, between a few very rich people and the poor majorities; and as long as religious fundamentalist justifications and smokescreen ideologies do not disappear, violence will not end, nor will the flow of forced migrations and the trafficking of people be diminished. The aggression against the natural environment will not cease either, even though it threatens life on planet earth.

Intercultural encounter takes place in the midst of conflicts of all kinds. It is impossible to imagine intracultural or intercultural political processes without conflict. The path toward justice and peace, through intercultural encounter, is a complex process of reconciliation among human beings, and its culmination is forgiveness, without which peace lacks a solid foundation. The reconciliation that leads to social justice includes reestablishing a harmonious relationship with nature and the entire environment in which life develops.

True peace is the reconciliation of all things in Christ, the final goal of intercultural encounter.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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