Children play at a camp at a sports facility in Tijuana, Mexico, set up to for people arriving Nov. 15 in a caravan of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. CNS photo/David Maung

Editorial: A prayer for justice

  • December 31, 2018

One way to view world history could be through a lens of justice. In courts, on battlefields, in parliaments and in many other settings where humans interact, justice has been a constant pursuit — but remains elusive in so many ways.

Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, chose “justice” as its word of the year for 2018. The choice was based on a count of the most popular word searches on the company website. It was an analytical assessment that, ironically, does injustice to a word packed with emotion. 

Yet justice makes sense as the word of the year. Not because it was overwhelmingly achieved — sadly, it wasn’t — but because it was so widely sought in a year wrought with pain. The word justice was popular specifically because it was often missing. That’s the thing about justice. It is seldom attained until people realize it has been denied and then demand it be restored.

“Where there is no justice, there is no peace,” said Pope Francis.

The two go hand in hand. The world desperately needs both. So our wish for the New Year is that societycommits not only to vigorously pursuing universal justice and peace but recognizing and building on the small steps taken in 2018 towards that goal. We pray for a world in which the number of searches for the word “justice” pale beside the number of people who actually achieve it.

In particular, we are thinking of justice for migrants around the world, the millions of people fleeing wars, poverty, religious persecution and other types of oppression. Many make perilous journeys that end at borders where they make a simple plea: for those who have so much to share with those who have so little.

And justice for victims of sexual abuse, those betrayed by the priests and bishops of the Church, and those across society who were spurred by the #MeToo movement to reveal their stories of harassment and assault.

And justice for the unborn, in Canada of course, but also for those being denied life due to Canadian policies which allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to encourage abortion in the developing world.

And justice for the poor, the handicapped, the sick and the elderly, those who are constantly marginalized and are particularly vulnerable in a world that increasingly wants to equate dignity and mercy with euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

And justice for Indigenous peoples who await fulfillment of the promises contained in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

And justice for the planet itself, which continues on a path of environmental calamity despite international agreements and national policies that usually are announced with fanfare but seldom implemented with resolve.

Justice was the word of the year, but in 2019 that word needs to become action.

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