Message Calls for Peace, Social Justice for All

3rd General Congregation

 October 20, 1962

The Fathers of the ecumenical council have issued a message to the peoples of the world calling for peace and social justice for all mankind.

The message proclaimed that “all men are brothers irrespective of the race or nation to which they belong.” The council adopted the message at its third general session (Oct. 20). The session opened with a Mass offered by Bishop Martien Jansen of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The council’s general secretary, Archbishop Pericle Felici, after reading the names of Fathers elected to seven of the 10 council commissions, then read the message, which had been proposed by the Council Presidency with the approval of Pope John XXIII.

The text of the message was distributed to all present and half an hour was given for studying it and expressing views on it. It was then approved and adopted by the Fathers.

The message opened with the words:

“We wish to convey to all men and to all nations the message of salvation, love and peace which Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, brought to the world and entrusted to the Church.”

The Fathers noted that “in the course of our meetings under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we intend to seek the most effective ways of renewing ourselves and becoming ever more faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.

“We shall strive to propose to the men of our times the truth of God, integral and pure, so that they may understand it and accept it freely.”

Stressing that the Fathers are united and love their brothers in Christ, the message declared:

“We, therefore, who are followers of Christ, are not estranged from earthly concerns. … While we hope that the Faith may shine more clearly and brightly from the work of the council, we expect therefore a spiritual renewal which may also yield a happy impetus to human welfare, that is to the findings of science, the progress of the arts and technology and a greater diffusion of culture”

The Fathers continued:

“We, united here from every nation under heaven, carry in our hearts the anxieties of all peoples entrusted to us, the anxieties of body and soul, sorrows, desires and hopes.”

The message affirmed the council’s concern and interest in the weak and poor and said:

“We are constantly attentive to those who, deprived of the necessary assistance, have not yet reached a standard of living worthy of man. For this reason, in the performance of our earthly mission, we take into great account all which pertains to the dignity of man and all which contributes toward the real brotherhood of nations.”

The Fathers then singled out two problems “of greater importance proposed to us — peace among the world’s peoples and social justice.”

The message pointed out that Pope John has “recommended everything that favors peace among peoples. There is no man who does not detest war and does not ardently desire peace. But this is the greatest wish of the Church who is the mother of all.”

The Fathers added that the Church “tends, moreover, with all her strength to unite all peoples and to create among them a mutual esteem of sentiments and of works. Is not this our conciliar assembly — admirable for its diversity of races, nations and tongues — testimony of a community bound by fraternal love, which it bears as a visible sign? We proclaim that all men are brothers irrespective of the race or nation to which they belong.”

Speaking of social justice, the message referred to the teachings of Pope John’s encyclical, Mater et Magistra, and said that it “shows clearly how absolutely necessary the Church is to the world today to denounce injustices and shameful inequalities, to restore the true order of goods and things so that, according to the principles of the Gospels, the life of man may become more human.”

The message declared:

“We humbly and ardently invite all to collaborate with us to establish in the world a more ordered way of living and greater brotherhood. We invite everyone, not only our brothers of whom we are the pastors, but all our brothers who believe in Christ and all men of good will. …

“It is our ardent desire that in this world, which is still so far from the desired peace because of the threats engendered by scientific progress itself — marvelous progress but not always intent on the supreme law of morality — the light of the great hope in Jesus Christ, our only Savior, may shine.”

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