Intervention of H. Em. Card. Peter Turkson at the Synod of Bishops - 13 October 2012

H. Em. Rev. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)

Fruit of Vatican Council II, the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, during these meaningful times for the entire Church and for its particular mission so that “both the justice and love of Christ toward the poor might be developed everywhere... to stimulate the Catholic community to promote progress in needy regions and international social justice”, is enthusiastically inserted in the “ process of renewal in the Church's fundamental mission”, which is new evangelization.
In fact, as underlined by the Instrumentum laboris of this XIII Ordinary Assembly in no. 130, going back to the teachings of the Supreme Pontiffs Paul VI and Benedict XVI, “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social'. [...] Testimony to Christ's charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person. These important teachings form the basis for the missionary aspect of the Church's social doctrine, which is an essential element of evangelization. The Church's social doctrine proclaims and bears witness to faith. It is an instrument and an indispensable setting for formation in faith”. Of course, from the profound pastoral experience of the Blessed John Paul II as Bishop of Krakow, as well as from his Petrine ministry, arose the most effective definition of the social doctrine of the Church: an “instrument of evangelization”.
The original reason for evangelization is Christ’s love for the eternal salvation of mankind; and the proclamation of Jesus Christ is the first and main factor of this development.
If renewal is a constant need of evangelization - more so evangelization of the social inasmuch as its strategies must accompany the transformations of society - it is certain that this is felt in a particular way now, at a turning point of history where the social question has radically become an anthropological question. This anthropological question forcibly takes up the question of God. If God is not refused explicitly, one tends to deem the openness of man to Transcendent as irrelevant.
Now, in consideration of this historical moment, there is an urgent need for even a new evangelization of the social, not only because it is an inescapable content of new evangelization, but also because it is, obviously, its effective instrument.
In fact, many persons are more sensitive today to questions of human rights, ecology, the fight against poverty, the themes that touch upon the concrete life of the individual and the common life of nations. This is a reality that can be drawn as an authentic opportunity for new evangelization; and for this reason, the opening of evangelization can effectively be the “social” one.
Therefore, this means finding new strategies. Here are some proposals:
- To persevere on the level of formation, with special attention placed on the study of the social doctrine of the Church in Seminaries, in the various houses of formation and in the parishes.
- To not ignore the opportunities offered by ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
At the level of the apologetic attitude referred to in no. 138 of the Instrumentum laboris, it would be opportune to make the great tradition of “social sanctity” more greatly known. For example: the priests Arcangelo Tardini and Jose Maria Arizmandarrieta (Social pastoral), the Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo (employment), Robert Schuman, Alcide De Gasperi and Julius Nyerere (political field).
Still on this so-called “apologetic” front, it is inspired by what the Blessed John XXIII stated in the Encyclical Mater et Magister - that is, that “it is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality”.
- Finally to underline, once again, the importance of the new evangelization of the social, why not hypothesize the addition of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church on the Vatican website, in the “Fundamental Texts”, along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
- Or, why not think about consecrating a Synodal Assembly to the theme of the (New) Evangelization of the social?

[00119-02.02] [IN090] [Original text: Italian]