Pope Francis says "Justice must always accompany the search for peace, which presupposes truth and freedom." to Judiciary FULL TEXT



Paul VI Audience Hall
Friday, 8 April 2022



Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!

I extend a cordial greeting to all of you, to your President, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, to the Vice-President David Ermini, to the first President of the Court of Cassation Pietro Curzio, to the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation Giovanni Salvi, to the professional members and lay members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary.

You have been called to a noble and delicate mission: you represent the body that guarantees the autonomy and independence of ordinary magistrates and you have the task of administering the jurisdiction. The Italian Constitution entrusts you with a particular vocation, which is a gift and a task because "justice is administered in the name of the people" (Art. 101).

The people demand justice and justice needs truth, trust, loyalty and purity of purpose. In the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 18, it is said that a poor widow went every day to the judge of her city and prayed to him saying: "Do me justice" (v. 3). Even today, listening to the cry of those who have no voice and suffer injustice helps you to transform the power received from the Law into service in favor of the dignity of the human person and the common good.

In tradition, justice is defined as the will to render to each according to what is due to him. However, in the course of history there are different ways in which the administration of justice has established "what is due": according to merit, according to needs, according to ability, according to its usefulness. For the biblical tradition, the duty is to recognize human dignity as sacred and inviolable.

Classical art represented justice as a blindfolded woman holding a scale with the dishes in balance, thus wanting to allegorically express the equality, the right proportion, the impartiality required in the exercise of justice. According to the Bible, it is also necessary to administer with mercy. But no political reform of justice can change the life of those who administer it, if they do not first choose in front of their conscience "for whom", "how" and "why" to do justice. It is a decision of one's conscience. This is what Saint Catherine of Siena taught when she argued that to reform one must first reform oneself.

The question of for whom to administer justice always illuminates a relationship with that "you", that "face", to which an answer is due: the person of the offender to be rehabilitated, the victim with his pain to accompany, those who contend over rights and obligations, the justice operator to be made responsible and, in general, every citizen to be educated and sensitized. For this reason, the culture of restorative justice is the only and true antidote to revenge and oblivion, because it looks to the recomposition of broken ties and allows the land soiled by the blood of the brother to be reclaimed (cf. n. 252 ). This is the path that, in the wake of the social doctrine of the Church, I wanted to indicate in the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, as a condition for fraternity and social friendship.

The violent and unjust act of Cain, in fact, does not strike the enemy or the stranger: it is carried out against those who have the same blood. Cain cannot bear the love of God the Father for Abel, the brother with whom he shares his same life. How can we not think of our historical era of widespread globalization, in which humanity finds itself increasingly interconnected and yet increasingly fragmented in a myriad of existential solitudes? This seemingly contradictory relationship between interconnection and fragmentation: both together. Why? It is our reality: interconnected and fragmented. The proposal of the biblical vision is, at the heart of its message, the image of a fraternal identity of the whole of humanity, understood as a "human family": a family in which to recognize oneself as brothers is a work to work on together and incessantly,

When tensions and differences grow, to be nourished by the spiritual and anthropological roots of justice it is necessary to take a step back. And then, together with the others, do two forward.

Thus, the historical question of “ how ” justice is administered always passes through reforms. The Gospel of John, in chap. 15, teaches us to prune dry branches without amputating the tree of justice, in order to counteract power struggles, patronage, various forms of corruption, negligence and unjust positions of income. You know this problematic, these ugly situations well, and many times you have to fight hard so that they do not grow.

The “ why ” of administering instead refers us to the meaning of the virtue of justice, which for you becomes an interior habit: not a dress to change or a role to conquer, but the very meaning of your personal and social identity.

When God asks King Solomon: "What do you want me to do for you?", The son of David replies: "Grant your servant a docile heart, so that he may know how to do justice to your people and know how to distinguish good from evil" ( 1 Kings 3,9). Beautiful prayer! For the Bible, "knowing how to render justice" is the goal of those who want to govern with wisdom, while discernment is the condition for distinguishing good from evil.

The philosophical tradition has indicated justice as the cardinal virtue par excellence, to the realization of which prudence contributes, when the general principles must be applied to concrete situations, together with fortitude and temperance, which perfect their achievement. An abstract idea of ​​justice does not emerge from the biblical account, but a concrete experience of a "just" man. The trial of Jesus is emblematic: the people ask to condemn the just and free the evildoer. Pilate asks himself: “But what has this man done wrong?”, But then he washes his hands. When great powers ally themselves to preserve themselves, the just pays for all.

The credibility of testimony, love for justice, authority, independence from other established powers and a loyal pluralism of positions are the antidotes to prevent political influences, inefficiencies and various dishonesties from prevailing. Governing the Judiciary according to virtue means returning to being a garrison and a high synthesis of the exercise to which you have been called.

May Blessed Rosario Livatino, the first blessed magistrate in the history of the Church, be of help and comfort to you. In the dialectic between rigor and coherence on the one hand, and humanity on the other, Livatino had outlined his idea of ​​service in the judiciary thinking of women and men capable of walking with history and in society, within which not only judges , but all the agents of the social pact are called to carry out their work according to justice. "When we die - are the words of Livatino -, no one will ask us how much we have been believers, but credible". Livatino was murdered when he was only thirty-eight, leaving us the strength of his credible testimony, but also the clarity of an idea of ​​the Judiciary to strive for.

Justice must always accompany the search for peace, which presupposes truth and freedom. May the sense of justice nurtured by solidarity towards those who are the victims of injustice, and nourished by the desire to see a kingdom of justice and peace, not be extinguished in you, illustrious ladies and gentlemen.

The Lord bless you all, your work and your families. Thanks.