Background

TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Commission is mandated to help implement the Gospel, whose message of liberation and hope is directed more specifically to the poor. Particular reference is made to the local context in the application of the Church’s Social Teachings found in the New Testament, in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the Papal Encyclicals

Second Vatical Council (1963-1965): The Second Vatican and Ecumenical Council emphasised the duty of the Church in the promotion of justice and peace and its involvement in all spheres of human society with the light and leaven of the gospel (Gaudium et Spes.90).
The Motu Proprio – The Pope’s Directive (1967): As a practical measure to implement the will of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope issued a directive to set up a Commission. The structure and framework of the Commission was given in the Motu Proprio: Catholican Christi Ecclesiam of the 6th of January 1967.

The Second General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1971) discussed the theme ‘Justice in the World’ and strongly proposed the need to promote justice. The Bishops proposed action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of preaching of the gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation (Justice in the World: Synod of Bishops Second General Assembly, 1971).

RATIFICATION OF THE AIMS OF JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMISSION (1976)

On the 10th December 1976 the Holy Father ratified the aims of the Justice and Peace Commission contained in the Motu Proprio. The aim of Justice and Peace Commission, as stated in the document are to examine and study (from the point of view of the doctrine, pastoral practice and apostolate problems connected to justice, with the aim of awakening God’s people to full understanding of these questions and awareness of the part they play and duties that fall on them in fields of justice) the development of people, human advancement, peace and human rights. The Commission examines what Christian witness and appropriate action in the above fields (Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI Institutiam et Pacem, 1976).

Apostolic Constitution, Pasto Bonus (1988): The aims of the Pontifical Commission of Justice and Peace were further refined by the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus of 1988 as: i)To promote Justice and Peace according to the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Church, ii)To campaign for the translation of the Social Doctrine of the Church into practice by individuals or community especially where it concerns relationship between employers and employees, iii) To collect facts and results of enquiries relating to peace, people’s progress and human rights violations and possibly share the conclusions arrived at with relevant Episcopal organisations iv) To network with international organisations, Catholic and non-Catholic, sincerely concerned with affirmation of the values of Justice and Peace in the world and v) To involve consultation with the Secretariat of State, especially when public statements on justice and peace are to be made e.g. documents and declarations

The Africa Synod (1994): The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the following directive in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations, Ecclesia in Africa: In what concerns the promotion of Justice and especially the defence of fundamental human rights, the Church’s apostolate cannot be improvised. Aware that in many countries, gross violations of human dignity and rights are being perpetrated. I ask the Episcopal Conferences to establish, where they do not yet exist, justice and peace commissions at various levels. These will awaken Christian communities to their Evangelical responsibilities in the defence of human rights. The Pope adds that: If the proclamation of these values should be part of the pastoral programme of each Christian community. This is why I urge that all pastoral agents are to be adequately trained for this apostolate. The formation of clergy, religious and laity, imparted in the areas of their apostolate, should be especially trained to know his or her rights and duties, the meaning and service of the common good, honest management of public goods and proper manner of participating in political life, in order to act in a credible manner in the face of social injustices.

Since its formation in March 1972, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) has been focusing on the promotion of human rights, justice and peace issues in Zimbabwe. Through research and documentation, CCJP has brought and continue to bring out the human rights violations that undermine the dignity of the human person