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JUSTICE: HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN VIRTUE

Introduction If human dignity is the origin and end of social and political morality and human rights are the expression of that dignity, then justice is the center of this discipline. This is because justice guarantees and protects the dignity of the person. The task of justice is to regulate the reciprocity of rights and duties among people. John Paul II teaches that love for others is concretized in the promotion of justice (C.A., 58). Justice protects and guarantees fundamental rights and duties. Justice signifies the conditions which affect the different sectors of society and it assesses them.. It watches the disparity in economic opportunities and moderates it. Moreover, it orients social circumstances so to favor peaceful co-existence among people. In the field of praxis, justice occupies that place which truth represents in the field of theory. Thus, truth and justice comprise the two most important roles in human existence: thought and life. According to J. Rawls, justice is the first virtue of social institutions while truth refers to systems of thought. Any theory no matter how attractive and clear must be rejected or revised if it is not true. Therefore, one can say that it is not important that laws and institutions be promulgated and efficient; if they are unjust, they must be reformed or abolished.1 This means then that inasmuch as truth is the guarantee of systems of thought, justice belongs to laws, which regulate the economic and political systems. If it is not right to maintain human co-existence based on a lie, it is also not possible to bring order in social life through unjust relationships. Because of this, injustice must be eradicated in social life and it must not be justified by anything. Rawls adds:
Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled and the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests. The only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one; analogously, an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice. Being first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.2

Plato related justice to good, and more concretely to physical good or health. For him, injustice is equivalent to an infirmity. In the dialogue in The Republic this question is asked:
How will it be clear that justice or injustice dominates our actions? How is it possible? It is because good and evil are exactly alike. They belong both to body and soul.3

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He explains that since health supposes order in the different parts of the body and infirmity comes from disorder, in the same manner, it is also true concerning justice and injustice. He maintains that to secure justice it is necessary to establish a hierarchy among the different parts of the soul which subordinates some to others in accord with nature. On the other hand, injustice is promoted if the different parts of the soul are subordinated in ways contrary to nature. To sum up, justice is one of the fundamental notions since it is related to truth and good while injustice connotes lie and infirmity. Therefore, inasmuch as the theoretical order is founded on truth and that concrete human existence demands health, the equity of social life demands that it be urgently governed by justice. If the object of social and political morality is respect for the person living with others, justice occupies a primary place because its function is to reach an equitable situation in the basic structures of society. The economic conditions and political institutions indicate this. On the contrary, from injustice the worst evils arise. The greatest and most repeated form of misery that human beings suffer is injustice. I. Justice in the History of Ethical Thought The concept of justice is one the most basic ideas in human existence. It is a natural and spontaneous notion which dwells with man or woman in his/her relationship with others. It is common knowledge that a child when treated unjustly will protest against arbitrary actions which he/she thinks are against him/her or do not contribute to his/her well-being. This idea is logical and original. It accompanies man throughout history acquiring tonalities and contents relative to the rhythm of the time. It is not easy to trace the history of the concept of justice, not is it easy to write about the feelings evoked by this word in history. Nonetheless, as a simple testimony, we consider two opposing positions: the initial stage of the Western thinking and the meaning which justice has in the culture of our time. The gap between these two periods perhaps represents the birth and the culmination of a concept that is so decisive in the history of humanity. 1. Justice in the Graeco-Roman Culture In the Western culture the word justice was present in the first reflections of Greek philosophy. Plato writes in The Republic that justice is a truth transmitted from the past.4 In the Roman cultural world, St. Augustine affirms that the word justice was coined from time immemorial.5 In Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle situates the theme of justice in Chapter V to signify that its study must be the center of ethics. In Chapter I he cites a proverb which affirms that the concept of justice is received from the past. Consequently, justice is like the womb from where the other virtues are born and increase. Here is a text where Aristotle shows the height reached by the virtue of justice in the Greek ethical reflection:

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Justice understood in this manner is a complete virtue. However, it is not an absolute and purely individual virtue. It is relative to a third virtue; and usually this is what makes it the most important among the virtues. The rising and the setting of the sun are not worthy of admiration. From here comes our proverb: All the virtues are found in the womb of justice. (Teognis) I add that on an eminent level it is a complete virtue, because it is the application of a complete and accomplished virtue. Whoever possesses it can apply his virtue in relation to the others and not only to himself. Many can be virtuous in relation to their very person but they are incapable of virtue with regard to others. I also find that the saying of Bias is very reasonable. Power, he would say, is the proof of man. In effect, the judge dressed with power is not somebody in relation to others since he is already in communion with them. For the same reason, among the other virtues, justice seems to be the only one which constitutes an external good, a good for the others, and not for one own self. This is because it is put into practice with regard to others and it does not do more than what is useful for the others who could be either judges or the entire people. The worst among men is one whose perversity damages his own self and also his neighbors. However, the most perfect person is not the one who practices his virtue for himself but rather he practices it for others. This is a thing that is always very difficult to do. Thus, justice cannot be considered simply as a part of virtue. It is the entire virtue. Injustice which is its opposite is not a part of vice, it is the whole vice. Therefore, one sees in the preceding considerations the difference between a virtue and justice. In its depth, a virtue is the same as justice; however, it is not identical with justice. Inasmuch as this virtue refers to the other, it is justice and inasmuch as it is a personal habit, it is indeed truly a virtue.6

As a consequence of the pre-eminence of justice, this doctrine is often repeated among the Greek philosophers: It is a greater evil to commit injustice than to suffer it.7 Moreover, it is never licit to commit an injustice since the height of ignominy is being unjust. To commit injustice against me brings more damage to the one responsible for the act than to my own self. Whoever commits injustice is more to be pitied than he who suffers it.8 The language of the Romans is no less profound in dealing with the virtue and the exercise of justice. For the Romans, justice is an ethical virtue which affects human behavior. The notion of justice is so connected with the concept of the person that Marcus Aurelius said: To be without justice is detrimental to human nature. Cicero gives to justice a supreme value among the virtues: In justice virtue achieves its maximum splendor and for this reason men are called virtuous.9 Cicero defines justice as referring to public usage. He affirms that justice gives to each person his/her own dignity.10 To this he adds: The foundation of justice is faith, that is, the firmness and the sincerity in the given word and in the agreements. The consequence of this is the birth of the Roman Law, that is, the positive justice. The Roman Law served as one of the most important contributions of the Romans to the Western culture. By way of example, let us take this text from Cicero. It gives us an idea of natural law which according to the Roman Law establishes the value of any law. It is the basis of justice.
Certainly there exists a true law in accord with nature, known by all, constant and everlasting....It is not right to add or subtract anything nor to completely eradicate it. Neither is there need to look for someone to comment or interpret it. There is no one law in Rome, another in Athens, another in some other place now or in some future age but always the law remains eternal, immutable binding all humanity. There is only one common God, teacher and lord of all, author, petitioner and promulgator of this law.

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Whoever does not guard it betrays his own self and reviles human nature and for that reason he suffers maximum punishments even if he tries to escape from them.11

2. Justice in the Present Culture Today justice is one of the most invoked words in social and political life. Political and economic systems, social programs and cultural movements have used justice as the key word in their declarations in a way that it constitutes one of the most common slogans of our time. As a result of this the word justice has a great attraction for people. However, as expected the use of the term repeatedly has stretched its meaning and the misuse of it has become ideologized. Thus, the different ideologies have made justice what they express what they wish and so the word justice now has different meanings. It connotes real changes of content according to the interpretations made by different economic systems and political programs. At times, these alienations come from dividing the area of justice and in changing the accepted meaning of justice according to the changing situations of our times.
The concept of justice understood in the sense of giving to each one his/her due has been divided, according to the different interpretations of: his/her due, into justice in the state of possession, justice of output, and social justice. These could at times be understood as justice of opportunities or justice of necessities. All these interpretations can give reasons why they are important. However, each one of these may arrive at a different result. Hence, one ought to determine these meanings at the outset.12

In effect, different definitions are determined by the interpretation of unicuique suum (to each his own). For example, if one deals with defending what pertains to each one according to the state of possession, that person endeavors to look at a juridical state of the property in order to give some guarantee to such a right. One can also have recourse to this principle in defense of properties that were unjustly acquired. The acquisition of property must be juridically legitimatized; however, it is necessary that the ways of access to property are executed with justice so that their social function is safeguarded. II. Biblical Data about the Value and Meaning of Justice The concept of justice is central in revelation. In this theme are equally introduced ideologies in such a way that they propose a type of exegesis which we can call temporal and spiritual. The reason is that they interpret the texts with social categories rather than with religious ones. The latter is a valid hermeneutical criterion.13 Although it is certain that religiously the bible illumines and judges the real situations of society of the period, error comes in an interpretation that is excessively political. In the specifically hermeneutical field there are two operations based on philological analysis: (1) those authors who endeavor to always discover the social meaning in the root word sedekah from which the most important words to designate justice come from; (2) those who

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maintain that the root word sedekah and its derivatives only have an ethical and religious meaning. Other authors will talk about an evolution in the meaning of the terms relative to justice in the rhythm of the history of Israel. Starting from these two extremes and avoiding unnecessary polemics, we intend to summarize the most evident and less questionable data by following two paths: etymological analysis and a brief exercise of biblical theology. 1. The Terms Just and Justice in the Old Testament As a whole, the vocabulary around this theme is very abundant: justice, just, to do justice, the justice of Yahweh and of other people. They are repeated in the Old Testament many times. There are around 800 texts which allude to this matter. A) Justice The word justice is found in the Old Testament 213 times and is expressed in two words, sdeq (saddiq/sedaq) which appears 81 times and dga (rasa) which is mentioned in 132 texts. Both are frequently repeated in the Wisdom books and they both have a religious sense. They mean to be just with God inasmuch as the people of God observe his precepts and therefore they fulfill his will. In this sense the response of the people to the Ten Commandments and the other precepts given to Moses is understood: [O]ur justice before the LORD, our God, is to consist in carefully observing all these commandments he has enjoined on us (Dt 6:25). The Book of Proverbs pronounces that the wicked cannot practice justice: The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just (Prov 21:7). On the contrary, God cannot but fulfill justice: Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression. If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place (Job 8:3-6). The prophet Isaiah laments about the perverted situation in Jerusalem: How has she turned adulteress, the faithful city, so upright! Justice used to lodge within her, but now, murderers (Isa 1:21). However, after announcing the punishments on the people of Jerusalem, Isaiah hopes: I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as in the beginning. After that you shall be called city of justice, faithful city (Isa 1:26). There are many texts that have direct allusions to justice in terms of the equitable relationships among people. For example, the Book of Leviticus denounces injustice in judgments, weights and measurements with the words sdeq/sedaq: Do not act dishonestly in using measures of length or weight or capacity. You shall have a true scale and true weights, an

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honest ephah and an honest hin. I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (Lev 19:35-36). The Book of Proverbs unites the teachings which the Israelites have to learn. Among the fundamental attitudes found among the Israelites are: righteousness, justice, and equity (Prov 1:3). The ethico-theological meaning of this text is very evident; however, above all, it points out the importance of justice among people. It is likewise worth mentioning the different testimonies to which an Israelite has recourse to defend him/herself against his/her adversaries: O God, by your name save me. By your strength defend my cause and do men justice (Ps 54:3). Finally, Leviticus warns the person charged to administer justice to act with equity: You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly (Lev 19:15). B) Just This noun is referred to 213 times. Of that number 189 times it is used in the Old Testament through the word saddq and 24 times in the New Testament using the word sdeq. The just means the good person without reference to human law but to the divine precept. Thus, the Book of Proverbs puts in opposition the future of the good person and the evil one: The hope of the just brings them joy, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nought (Prov 10:28). The Book of Wisdom pronounces that the wicked shall receive a punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the LORD (Wis 3:10). Already the just is the pious servant, the friend of God. Thus to Noah God said: Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just (Gen 7:1). The less just will be likewise saved in Sodom: Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said: Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?I will not destroy it (Genesis 18:23-32). The Messiah is also called just in the poem of the Servant of Yahweh (Is 53; Wis 2:18). The people ask Yahweh: Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down (Isa 45:8). The just par excellence is Yahweh even to the point that this term may be an attribute or a name for God (Gen 18:25; Ism5:15-16). There are also texts which make direct reference to the just by reason of his/her practice of justice in social co-existence. The Prophet Ezekiel says: If a man is virtuous--if he does what is right and just (Eze 18:5). On the part of Deuteronomy, it recommends the exercise of justice: I charged your judges at that time, Listen to complaints among your kinsmen, and administer true justice to both parties even if one of them is an alien (Deut. 1:16). These two texts show

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the relativity of the theory which professes a purely chronological evolution of the concept of justice in the Old Testament. However, in the cases referring to justice in life together, practically always, the just is understood as synonymous with the pious and the good. As an exception to those who make an exclusive social reading of the Old Testament, there are others who adhere to those two conclusions:
1) It is not easy to schematize the abundant testimonies which mention the word justice in the different books of the Old Testament. The difference in context in which they are found is such that when they are explained from a civil point of view diverse interpretations are possible especially when they are chosen and are cited by those who favor a special theory. 2) The reading of these biblical testimonies is inseparable from the religious context in which they were written. Therefore, in all cases they have an ethico-theological dimension. For this reason, when sdeq is referred to as human justice, it cannot be understood only in the legal or strictly juridical sense.

2. Vocabulary in the New Testament Justice and its derivatives are expressed in the New Testament with the word dke, dakaisne, ddaios, diakaon. Justice (dke) is found only 3 times with a meaning close to a condemnation or unchangeable judgment (Acts 28:4; 2Thes 1:9; Jude 1:7). In Acts 25: 15 the word according to law is used in the sense of a sentence of condemnation referring to Pauls situation in Caesarea. A) Justice The noun dakaiosne (justice) is found in the New Testament 91 times with a distinct but complementary meaning in the different writings in the New Testament. A common meaning is its equivalent to sanctity. There are so many examples and occasions that these two words, justice and sanctity, are cited as synonymous (Lk 1:75). In Matthew there are six texts in which these similarity is obvious: (Mt 3:15;p 5:6; 6:1, 33; 15:20; 21:32). Evil and justice are likewise put opposite each other: "You son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud. Will you not stop twisting the straight paths of (the) Lord? (Acts 13:10). There are 63 texts in St. Paul where he deals with the theological concept of justification. 33 of them are from his Letter to the Romans. Paul uses frequently the expression the justice of God (dikaiosne Zeo) (Rom 5:1-2; 9:30-31; Gal 2:16, 21, etc. According to St. Paul justice contains faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22); therefore his faith in Christ is reckoned as righteousness or justice (Rom 4:5).

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It is evident that Pauline justice and social justice hardly have anything in common. This shows that the word justice in English is a very imperfect synonym for the Greek word (or the use of Paul in the New Testament) and from its Hebrew and Aramaic basis. This justice does not really regulate the social conduct of the person but it designates the right and correct relationship with God. B) Just (Dkaios) This word is repeated 79 times and it reaffirms the meaning of the good person. Moreover, justice is understood as fidelity to God. The saints are just; for example Abel (Mt 23:35); Zacharia and Elizabeth (Lk 1:6); Simeon (Lk 2:25); Lot (2Pet 2:8); Cornelius (Acts 10:22) and St. Joseph (Mt 1:19). Dkaios can be synonymous with gazs. This means that the word just is synonymous with the word good. The just one per excellence is Jesus Christ. Let us look at some examples:
Have nothing to do with that righteous man (Mt 27:19). This man is innocent beyond doubt (Lk 23:47). You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you (Acts 3:14).

It is worth affirming that the word just is a messianic title which is mixed with other christological titles and which the apostles refer to as the fulfillment in the life of Jesus (Acts 7:52; 22:14). There are many texts in which the word just modifies actions with evident reference to justice and equity in human relationships: Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, realizing that you too have a Master in heaven (Col 4:1). We can formulate some conclusions from the exegetical point of view relative to the concept of justice in the New Testament:
1) Justice means fidelity to God which is expressed through the fulfillment of his will. 2) The just one is primordially the person who assumes a religious and moral attitude toward God; it also includes being just towards other men and women. 3) Justice and sin are presented as antithesis: Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14). 4) Justice and justification are closely linked concepts and realities.

As a summary, we can say that from the direct philological analysis we cannot deduce special consequences which we can today call social justice. Likewise, it is not proper to develop a theory exclusively based on the exegesis of the word justice. In confusion concerning the sense of justice, Christians will look for an orientation in the divine revelation in order to listen to God who ought to be understood through justice. The word justice is used in a form which at first glance causes a certain confusion. It is almost synonymous with sanctity, salvation, grace, peace,

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liberation and redemption, that is, it indicates a particular point of view whereby all men and women hope in God. In an important sense, justice is properly attributed to God, not only as regards he being a legislator but also as having to direct history with a view to saving his people. Considered from the point of view of the human person, justice in the biblical vocabulary is a correct attitude toward God and the neighbor which makes possible and preserves communion. It manifests itself in accepting the law of the covenant and as a response of the believer to the divine revelation. The word justice acquires with Paul a more profound dimension. 3. Biblical Doctrine on Social Justice Philology is not everything nor is it perhaps the best method of exegesis. To read the bible does not mean making a philological analysis but it does mean understanding the whole message: [D]ue attention must be paid both to the customary and characteristic patterns of perception, speech and narrative which prevailed at the age of the writer...and no less attention must be devoted to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture, taking into account the Tradition of the entire Church and the analogy of faith (D.V., 12). Consequently, the question must be proposed in this manner: Is there something in the bible besides the teachings on justice, especially in the social field, that expressly refers to unicuique suum,? Can we really talk about a biblical doctrine on the existence of a social life founded on justice? The answer to this question is surely yes because besides the justice of God there is a rich doctrine concerning justice which regulates the relationships of people with one another. It deals not only with justice before God but also deals with that justice which must govern the world. In the document, Libertatis Nuntius, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith there is a good reference to the relationship between biblical justice and social justice:
In the Old Testament, the prophets after Amos keep affirming with particular vigor the requirements of justice and solidarity and the need to pronounce a very severe judgment on the rich who oppress the poor. They come to the defense of the widow and the orphan. They threaten the powerful: the accumulation of evils can only lead to terrible punishments. Faithfulness to the Covenant cannot be conceived of without the practice of justice. Justice as regards God and justice as regards mankind are inseparable. God is the defender and the liberator of the poor. These requirements are found once again in the New Testament. They are even more radicalized as can be shown in the discourse on the Beatitudes. Conversion and renewal have to occur in the depths of the heartAt the same time, the requirements of justice and mercy, already proclaimed in the Old Testament, are deepened to assume a new significance in the New Testament. Those who suffer or who are persecuted are identified with Christ.14

4. Justice in Tradition It is evident that Tradition was extensively preoccupied with different ideas related to justice in social co-existence. The criticisms of the Church Fathers constitute a true anthology of texts which condemn wealth unjustly acquired or wealth simply not shared. In the wide literature

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which constitutes the patristic tradition, different ideas appear which cover the virtue of justice: property and its equitable distribution, abuse of power, obedience to a legitimately constituted power, condemnation of different crimes committed against social living, the common good, etc. In other words, the Church Fathers made thematic references in their literatures as for example the just relationship among people themselves, collaboration between authority and the citizens in terms of the promotion of the common good and the exercise of justice in its three areas: commutative, distributive, and legal. In their conceptual treatment of social justice, the Fathers in the early tradition already tried to apply the doctrine of justice from the Graeco-Roman intellectual context to the Christian situation. In the civil, juridical and philosophical culture, the notion of justice occupied a prominent place. The benefits that this civil culture offered to Christian thought were considerable. Thus the Fathers took from the Greek culture the concept of justice as the virtue which dealt with giving to each one his/her due. At the same time, they took from Roman culture the inherent rights of the citizens which Christians extended to all men and women. It is clear that the cultural notion of justice will not exactly coincide with the Christian concept since the latter is dominated by a religious sense. Thus, the attempt of the Fathers to impregnate the ideal of justice with a new spirit in the Graeco-Roman culture. The Fathers did not substitute the dominant concept of justice by the bible, but they assumed it and purified it. An example of this would be the monographs which readily appeared as commentaries to the pagan writings. In this light, many would bring up the question of the Hellenization of the concept of Christian justice. They believe that this caused the loss or, at least, the diminution of the biblical sense. They will raise this question: is it licit to regret this Hellenization of the concept of justice in Christian ethics and thus lose a chance to return to a strictly biblical teaching? The concept of justice, elaborated by the Fathers of the Church and the great theologians through a speculative work worthy of praise, establishes a new synthesis of the elements of the biblical and philosophical tradition and the Graeco-Roman law. A grand picture of a cosmos based on God wherein all things not only pertaining to the world of nature but also those corresponding to society take their proper places. This gave the whole of the existing order a great stability and a theological legitimization. A Christian ethics of profession would consider the place and the function of each of those in the society as a mission given by God. From this would come corresponding rights and duties. Christianity did what it to inculturate itself in the measure that it evangelized and assumed those human values that were capable of being enriched by the Gospel. This is what really happened with the consequent enrichment of the Christian concept of justice. Besides the biblical notion of justice was only valid for a theocratic society like Israel. It was not adequate for the pagan world nor for the future of society even when Christianity extended to Europe and became the official religion of the Roman empire. This was due to the fact that the church-world distinction constitutes an essential point of the message preached by Jesus Christ.

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In the 12th century the virtue of justice occupied a big space in the theological treatise on virtues; and in the 16th century the great treatise, De Justitia et Jure appeared. Certainly the casuistic moral theology of the 17th century occupied itself by choice with commutative justice or private justice between individuals causing a great loss of attention regarding problems related to distributive and legal justice which were common in the new societies in the colonies. It is clear that the problems that cropped up then both in the economic and political world were not properly addressed due to the emphasis given to just relationship between individuals. These grave and urgent social problems gave birth to the social teaching of the Church in the 19th century by which the Church began to make headway in the field of morality. Without abandoning the demands of commutative justice, theological ethics today occupies itself with distributive and legal justice so as to establish a just order in the political and economic life of the people. The great changes in the social world equally correspond to the political modification and the interpretation that were made in almost all social institutions. For this reason there is an experience of deep change in the study of justice. Likewise, the need arises to clarify the theological concept of justice. III. The Virtue of Justice: Theological Doctrine

1. The Patristic Tradition We have already said that Christian writers assumed the Graeco-Roman concept of justice. St. Ambrose stresses the two elements pointed out by Aristotle in the notion of virtue: to give to each one his/her due and the demand for equality. He added typically Christian elements to enrich the concept. In his work, On the Duties of the Minister, St. Ambrose wrote that the pagans established the concept of justice which gives to each one his/her due, not appropriating from somebody else and neglecting its own use in order to preserve the common good. He enriches the pagan doctrine with this Christian consideration:
Respect for justice refers first to God, second to the country, third to the parents and in the end to all. All of these are according to the teaching of nature with the supposition that in the early years when man begins to make use of his reason, we love life as a gift of God, country and parents and later we have effect on our neighbors with whom we must associate. Here is where charity is born which prefers others to oneself and does not look for the things which pertain to it in which the principle of justice is found.15

Referring to social justice, he writes:


Justice refers to society and to the community of the humankind. The foundation of

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society is twofold: justice and beneficence. These are also called liberality and benignity. Justice seems more sublime: liberality more amiable. This is because the former contains judgment while the latter the will.16

Another enrichment of the pagan concept of justice is found in the relationship which St. Ambrose made between charity and justice:
What the pagan philosophers say to be the first task of justice is not something attractive to us. They affirm that no one must damage anther even if he provoked. The authority of the Gospel contradicts this opinion (Lk 22:56).17

Another correction to the Greek concept of justice is the reference to the ownership of goods. St. Ambrose affirms in plain language the social demands of property given that by nature all things are in common:
The pagan philosophers judged that as a form of justice each one may not possess what is for all, that is, public property is for the public and not for the individual. This certainly does not conform to nature since God gave things in common to all.18

We can consider St. Ambrose as a model. The Christian authors of the first century always interpreted the virtue of justice in human co-existence from the perspective of faith. They had recourse to justice to condemn unjust wealth and to demand an equitable distribution of wealth so that social life might be governed by equity. 2. Doctrine of St. Thomas St. Thomas seriously undertook the study of justice as a theological virtue. He structured his treatise on moral theology based on virtues. This is the scheme that he proposed in his Summa Theologica: Human virtue is a habit which perfects man to do good. Consequently, there are two types of virtues which he named: intellectual and moral. The moral (cardinal virtues) are four: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance (I-II, q. 58, a. 3). As regards justice, he wrote: Justice is the most important for being the most proximate to reason and because it is related to the others (I-II, q. 66, a. 4). Besides his extensive commentaries on Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics, St. Thomas in his Summa gave ample space to the study of justice. It is the most extensive treatise of the seven treatises he devoted to the study of the virtues. Concretely, he gave it 66 quaestiones. Questiones 57-79 have 111 articles referring to the specific matter of justice while in the remaining sections he studied the rest of the virtues, constituting them as separate treatises. He thus defines justice in this way: Justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each his due by a constant and perpetual will.19 With little modifications this can be the classic definition of justice. In this same article, he took two definitions of Aristotle and he concluded the article with this affirmation: Justice is a habit whereby a man is said to be capable of doing just actions in accordance with his choice.20 St. Thomas also included the Roman thinking. He appropriated the definition of Ulpian (+228) which became classic among the Church Fathers: The constant will to give to each one

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his due. The novelty in St. Thomas regarding the doctrine of justice is not so much his definition but his synthesis and the articulation. There is no doubt that his principal source was Aristotle. He followed closely the scheme and the ideas in the first four chapters Book V of the Nicomachean Ethics and expanded the understanding of justice by adding the Roman definition as well as the other writings of St. Anselm and other texts from the Fathers which were already used by prior scholastics. Justice for St. Thomas integrates three fundamental elements:
1) The object of justice is right. This means that justice deals with giving and restoring what is due (q. 57, a. 1). 2) Justice refers to another. Alterity is, therefore, a constitutive element of justice: nobody is just to his/her own self. 3) Justice is founded on equality. It demands equality between the one who receives and the one who receives.

3. Justice and Right A new aspect in the Thomistic exposition is the disposition of the quaestiones. In concrete, St. Thomas first studied the question concerning rights (q. 57) before studying justice (q. 58). This novelty supposes that St. Thomas had a deep intuitionprior to justice there already exists the right. He already wrote in Summa Contra Gentiles: If the act of justice is to give to each one his due it is because the said act supposes another precedent by virtue of which something is constituted as someones property. This proposition simply shows a fundamental reality: justice is something that comes second, it presupposes a right. If something is due to a person as his/her own, the same is not due to him/her because of the work of justice. St. Thomas showed this in this manner: if a person works in the garden what happens is that something pertains to him and therefore there is something due him/her; the ownership belongs to him who works. That which is due has to be given to the other. But this giving is an act of justice which is performed on the supposition that something is due to the person. As a summary, justice is defined as giving to each one his/her due (unicuique suum) but we ask: why can someone have something as his/her own? The answer is very clear: because he/she has the right to it. Consequently, such right must be respected through justice. The right precedes justice. The ethical reality comes from the very etymology of justice. It comes from the word jus (right). This means it is a derived concept not a primary one. We can deduce from what we have said so far the following conclusions:
1) Social ethics is more a morality of rights and duties than of justice. In this light, its teaching will stress more the dignity of the person and his/her rights than the theme of justice. It will help to clarify the true sense of this virtue often invoked but badly interpreted.

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2) One commits injustice only in the measure that a right is infringed. In this regard, it is not unjust to deny someone the use of a tractor belonging to a cooperative if he/she is not member of it. Neither will it be injustice if a lawyer denies defending someone on the basis of materials which he/she does not have the right to. A doctor does not commit injustice if he/she denies a sick person who demands from him/her treatment which he/she does not have the right to. 3) Given that to every right there is a corresponding duty, in the pastoral field and in the practice of confession the completion of duties and the corresponding demands of ones own rights must be considered as something urgent. Due to the sensitivity to demand the rights there is more insistence on the obligation to fulfill the duties the social co-existence demands. 4) Besides the rights-duties which justice calls for, there are cases of moral demands which have to be attended to not through justice but through charity or through the demands of the common good. A doctor sins against charity if he/she does not yield to the complaint of a patient. Consequently, social morality cannot be reduced to the theme of justice alone. 5) Besides rights-duties there are correlative moral values which they represent. They give rise to different doctrines which material values propose and defend with the exclusion of those which refer to the human person as a spiritual being. Without failing to pay attention to all the classes of values, it is necessary to understand that material values can be more urgent but that spiritual are ordinarily more important. 6) Given that the rights-duties arise from the spiritual condition of the human person, it is necessary to orient the citizen towards the horizon of spiritual life. Justice cannot be lived out in a community which moves exclusively through the claims of material values or a political party. 7) Rights and duties must be juridically regulated. Hence comes the importance of a norm or a just law which must moderate the rights and duties of every person. In this way the trilogy rightjustice-law is united. These three fundamental concepts are correlated and united in the mind and in the understanding of the jurists and philosophers of all times.

4. Division and Classes of Justice Justice is a virtue of alterity. It is the ordering of the communitarian life. There are three fundamental relationships as far as a human person in his/her social existence is concerned;
1) Horizontal. This means relationship of some individuals with others. The justice which governs these relationships is called commutative justice. 2) Vertical. This means relationships of individuals with the collectivity of the State. The type of justice under this dispensation is called legal justice. On the other hand, the justice which governs the relationship of the State with individuals is called distributive justice.

Aristotle proposed this division. This was repeated in tradition, both juridical and theological, and St. Thomas was in agreement with it. J. Pieper suggests this diagram which clarifies the classic triple division of justice, explaining the mutual relationships between them.

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Legal Justice

Distributive Justice

Commutative Justice A Individual B Individual

The strict notion of justice is given in this three classes of justice. However, each one of them touches on different aspects which we shall clarify in the succeeding section. Our aim here is to emphasize their specific content and to call attention to certain risks to which they might be subjected. A. Commutative Justice Commutative justice looks at the good of the individual. It is founded on the singularity of each person as carrier of his/her rights and duties; it supposes the radical equality of all men and women. The seventh commandment is almost exclusively occupied with commutative justice; it even constitutes it as a primordial material when the treatise of moral theology is structured on virtues. Thus the risk of reducing the extensive content of justice to mere just relationships among individuals and thereby neglecting just relationships which must prevail in social life. This situation would be aggravated in our socialized era by neglecting the common good or when the importance of society, the regulating function of the State and international relationships are neglected. These deficiencies become obvious in fiscal deceptions or, concretely, in the manipulation of prices by one particular group to the detriment of the common good. However, in our time there is also the contrary risk: to be too much preoccupied with distributive and legal justice. This can cause neglect of the demands of commutative justice. This risk is concretized in the case where the individual is sacrificed to the interests of the State or the collectivity without a social dynamism that arises from interpersonal relationships.

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Legal justice looks for the common good. It contemplates on the demands of society. It takes on the perspective of the social condition of the human person and it gives emphasis to the social order through the realization of just laws. Attention to legal justice demands that the individual overcomes his/her egoism and pays attention to the juridical ordering of the nation. Frequently, individuals, including Christians, like to be excused from the fulfillment of civil laws. In this light it becomes necessary to press for obligation of conscience to obey just laws. However, preferential attention to legal justice has also its own risk: the abundance of laws which, instead of favoring social co-existence, put a straitjacket on the activities of particular groups. There is a classic understanding which affirms that an abundance of laws reveals the corruption of society.21 Modern states legislate more laws everyday based on the aspects of natural rights. Often these are against natural law, causing tensions in the personal conscience of the citizens. What we experience today is a new and specific crisis of governance which does not come from defect in organization but rather from the excess of it. It is an order that engenders disorder. Another risk in legal justice in democratic countries is manifested when laws are legislated due to political motives and in function of a party in power. In these cases, what takes place is not so much the good of particular groups but the obtaining of more votes that will put them in power. Justice from the law is considered not because it legitimizes the democratic majority but because it promotes the common good of the society. We take an example of an immoral law: abortion is used as part of an electoral platform by some political parties. C. Distributive Justice Distributive justice orders the relationships between the State and the individual. The exercise of this justice is of exceptional interest in order to facilitate justice in society. It must consider the fundamental equality of all the citizens so as to diminish social inequality. Distributive justice has to favor the just distribution of economic, political and cultural goods. The risk of distributive justiceif it does not take the other classes of justiceis in the supplanting of the society by the State. The Statification of society is very dangerous in liberal states because the freedom of the strongest is the one that wins. In totalitarian countries this also happens with the assumption of power by only one party. In both cases there is the danger that ideologies or the system will dominate over the demands of justice. Finally, the danger in the exercise of distributive justice in the hands of the State is in the non-possibility of having intermediate entities between the individual and the state institutions. This situation brings loss of the creative capacity of society and it puts to risk the equilibrium between the particular initiatives and those exclusively proper to the competence of the State.

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Since the 19th century social justice is mentioned as something added to the classical triple division of justice. It was the Italian sociologist Luigi Taparelli who introduced this expression and he was followed by another Italian philosopher, Antonio Rosmini. Both authors would refer to the urgency to implant justice in the new society of the 19th century when new and flagrant inequalities would arise in social co-existence. Possibly, the same Italian language favored that one may talk about social justice and thus, by the imperative of the language, a neologism is created without having to deal with a new scholarly classification. This new syllogism was not easily accepted. The fact is that in the clamor of conflicting ideologies the expression was heavily criticized even by Catholics to the point that is was faulted by the Modernists. The discussions went on and on even though the expression was used by Pius X. In the encyclical, Iucunda Sane (March 12, 1904), Pius X praised the attitude of Pope Gregory the Great in the face of the endeavors of the Emperor. Through this act, he earned the title, Champion of Social Justice. From that time on, the controversies on the use of the term died down, however, discussions concerning the exact meaning of social justice began. Pius XI made the first approach to clarify the meaning of social justice in his encyclical, Quadragessimo Anno:
To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice (Q.A., 58).

Pope Pius XI thus reduced social justice to a just distribution of goods. In the 1930s the expression social justice was thoroughly accepted, creating a decrease in attention to the classic triple division of justice. Even the encyclicals which deal with this theme are given the name social encyclicals. Controversies concerning the specific material of this new type of justice opposed to the classical types arose. The classical division traces its root in Aristotle, gaining its own epistemological status among Catholic moral authors. The question posed is this: are we dealing with a new type of justice or is it proper to reduce social justice to any of the three known divisions? Does social justice gather some of the demands of the three commonly admitted types of justice? The responses of the different authors were disparate. Many authors will equate social justice with legal justice (A. Vermeesch, E. Gnicot, L. Lanchance, and P. Tischleder). Others limit social justice to the demands of natural right and not legally codified in the common good (B. Hring and A. F. Utz). Others, in turn, link the concept of social justice to legal and distributive justice (H. Pesch, O. Schilling, and E. Welty). Some will interpret social justice as the harmony between legal, distributive and commutative justice rightly understood (B. Mathis and F. Cavallera).

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The solution will never be easy when the discussion is surrounded by the idea of the classical triple division. In this light, others will decide on admitting that social justice deals with a new type of justice.22 However, these authors still have not come at a consensus on the question of the real object of social justice. In my opinion social justice is an original expression which responds to new social situations, both economic and political. In social justice is expressed the need that social relationships brought about by the new economic order are regulated by justice. For example since the 19th century, new social institutions which mediate between the individual and the State gained importance: the economic enterprises, political parties, unions, etc. Neither man/woman as an individual nor as a member of society has to be directly confronted by the State but by more immediate institutions which seriously affect his/her life and which are not always regulated in an equitable manner. This means that social justice is the justice which governs the institutions born from a new social and political order. These new institutions are principally economic and political in nature; however, they touch other fields of human existence. For this reason, the social life which gained greater importance in different fields must be ruled by justice. This justice is given the name social justice because of its immediate influence social life. Besides, given the dynamism acquired by society, social justice regulates the relationships among different social groups. For example, the common good does not necessarily coincide with the good of the State but with the good of the citizens in a concrete situation and the good of those groups created by it. In the context of social justice, therefore, the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity have gained importance. Equally, social justice will regulate the creation and the competence of the intermediate groupings or maybe between the competence of the State and those which are born as a response to the immediate needs. To these new needs the individuals intend to give a response in a collective manner. Uncertainty comes about when one deals with restricting social justice only to the economic field or to the narrow field of the unjust distribution of wealth. Certainly, this is a very important assumption of social justice but it is not a unique nor exclusive one. Therefore, when the encyclicals appeal to social justice they mention the common good in which the goods of the family, education, and, in general, the values of the spirit enter. These matters are also regulated by social justice. Milln-Pulles says:
Social justice goes beyond the limited area of material or economic goods and it extends to a point where it demands an effective possibility for the participation of the citizens in the highest goods of lifeThe understanding of social justice in its social plenitude and according to its highest sense carries with it an organization of co-existence which makes possible the proportionate participation of all the citizens in the highest goods of life. The common good has a part, or more correctly, a condition of material nature. But its most important aspect and dimension is that it will constitute the superior values of the spirit. Moreover, to restrict social justice to the realm of the rights of the citizens as regards material goods would constitute an attack on the dignity of the human person.23

To those who prefer to explain social justice in the light of the classical triple division it will be easy to arrive at a consensus, if it is admitted ,that it is proper to social justice, at least, to judge the social aspects of the three classes of justice in relation to material, familial, educational,

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political and religious goods. In other words, social justice is that which regulates the different social institutions to which the life of the individual in society revolves. This is sufficient with regard to this quaestio de nomine. 6. Social Order and Juridical Order We discussed earlier the relationship between justice and right: the right precedes justice. Therefore, to protect and to defend the right justice is required. This in turn demands the existence of laws which regulate rights, duties and relationships among the citizens. This theme refers to the so called state of law in which a just legislation facilitates the equitable co-existence among citizens. However, as we said earlier, it is important to avoid these two extremes: (1) a city without a law, characterized by lack of norms, which allows the law of the jungle to reign supreme (2) a society governed by abundant legislation that converts its social life into a concentration camp. In the first case, adequate legislation makes laws become the pulse of social life while in the second case excessive legislation stifles all existence in society. Besides the existence of a good number of laws that facilitate social co-existence it is likewise required that these laws be just. The ethical ideal exists in social life when it is governed by few but just laws; few but good laws are the juridical ideal of society. Justice of laws is seen through the following criteria:
1) Laws are considered just when they comply with the conditions which define them. Laws are honest when they strive for the good of the individual and of society; they are useful if they facilitate the attainment of the true good. Laws are possible if they can be fulfilled without grave discomfort and when they come from a legitimately constituted authority. 2) Laws are ethically just when they defend, protect and favor human rights, that is, when they respect human dignity from whence these fundamental rights come. 3) Laws are morally just when they legislate a social co-existence oriented to the common good.

This theme always poses the problem of conflict: the relationship between morality and right. It is urgent to give this area separate treatment. 7. Morality and Legality The importance and meaning of laws in society frequently lead to confusion between two distinct areas: the moral norm and civil law. This confusion leads to the belief that what the law demands (legality) is what constitutes the moral good (morality). This approach tends to put morality and legality on equal footing. It deals consequently with fixing the relationship between law and morality or between what is licit in the juridical field and what is just in moral life. Definitely, there exists the need to distinguish what is permissible in civil law from what is ethically good or bad given that the civil law does not always coincide with what is judged as moral. This doctrine acquires a special

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weight when civil law legislates against the principles of natural law or ,worse, when it legislates against the law of God. The idea of legality as an ethical norm has developed very slowly because of the secularizing of culture which has been slowly disregarding God. The following is the history of ethical legalism.
a) Right Naturalism. Grocio proposed a thesis that talks about natural law without considering the existence of God. He received this inheritance from the old right naturalists. The right naturalist conception is the first secularization of law and of natural law since it alienated moral consideration from God. In short, natural law was made independent of God. b) Juridical positivism. This signified an advancement in the process of secularization. According to the defenders of this doctrine, there is no natural law. In 1893, Otto von Gierke wrote that nature was a thing of the past and that what remained of the doctrine was only the pride of the old power. In our time, Hans Kelsen writes that it does not make any sense to have recourse to natural law. For this reason he talks about right naturalist ingenuity. It is the State who makes the laws and determines the norms. Therefore, morality comes from the law. Consequently, morality is correlated to the legality which marks the State. Juridical positivism reached its highest acceptance among totalitarian nations in the first half of this century. This phenomenon motivated Pius XII to act urgently. In his discourse to the Rota Romana he criticized juridical positivism as the cause of the loss of the moral sense:
The immediate causes of the crisis (of the Christian moral conscience) have been found principally in juridical positivism and in the absolutism of the State Separating the law, its base, constituted by the divine and positive law and therefore immutable, remains founded only on the law of the State as the supreme normIn turn the absolute State will necessarily attempt to subject all things under its will Juridical positivism and absolutism of the State have altered and disfigured the noble features of justice. It is necessary that the juridical order establishes itself again as closely linked to the moral order. However, the social order is essentially founded on God, on his will, his sanctity and his being.24

c) Juridical Sociologism. This doctrine makes morality dependent on the social conditions of the people. According to Arnold Gehlen, what ordains ethical values is historical sociology. A law depends on the culture received by the people. The different cultures inherit some moral values and elevate them to a category of ethical norm of conduct. In juridical sociologism a positive law must respect those inherited norms and they must acquire their moral character.

These three currents lead to an ethical legalism: what is moral is what the law establishes. This means that morality and legality coincide. This interpretation suffers many basic errors that must be examined. They are errors of the metaphysical order and gnoseology with direct impact on the moral order. The metaphysical error consists in affirming that human nature as such is not possible. The gnoseological error is rooted in the denial of objective knowledge. The underlying reason for these two errors is the exaggerated historicism which, in denying a stable human nature, cannot accept the existence of natural law. The immediate consequence is relativism both distinct and

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diverse. This affects ethics since these doctrines cannot guarantee objective good and evil. Metaphysical relativism connotes a gnoseological relativism and both lead to an ethical relativism. The teachings of the church have been opposed to these doctrines and to their resultant negative consequences. In so far as these theories are erroneous, Pius XII affirmed Human nature remains substantially the same.25 Vatican II contains similar doctrine. In expounding the sense and task of conscience Gaudium et Spes affirms that in the depths of his conscience man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience (no. 16). That law was written by God in each persons heart. The greatness of the human person consists in being faithful to that law which conscience applies to different situations in his/her life. In the face of an understanding of positive law as moral norm, John Paul II affirms the existence of a moral principle which is rooted to the persons very nature and which cannot be reduced to positive laws:
Moral law is not only constituted by general orientationsThere are moral norms which have a precise, immutable and unconditional contentfor example, the norm which prohibits contraception or that which prohibits the direct taking of the life of an innocent person. One can deny the existence of moral norms which have such a value if he denies that there exists the truth of the person, the immutable nature of man, founded in the last analysis on the creative wisdom which is the measure of all reality. 26

In that address, the pope calls historicistic relativism that ethics which relativizes the moral norm. In that relativism are counted those who attach morality to ever-changing civil laws. Because of these changes positive law will always arrive at legalizing moral values. Summing up the doctrine regarding the relationship between law and morality, we propose these principles:
1) For the legal to become moral the law must respect natural law. This law, taken from the Graeco-Roman thinking and assumed by Catholic moral theology, is the universal and permanent norm of moral rectitude:
The first postulateis the existence of natural law, common to all people, from which norms of being, of work and of duty are derivedFor those who will reject this truth, relationships among their people will always remain an enigma, both practical and theoretical. If its rejection is converted into a common doctrine, the very course of human history will be an eternal wandering in the stormy sea without any haven. On the contrary, in the light of this principle all can easily discern, perhaps in general lines, the just and the unjust, the law of injury; to indicate the norms with which to resolve differences; to understand the obligatory character of international law. In other words, natural law is the common solid base of every right and duty, the universal language necessary for all understanding. It is that supreme tribunal of appeal which humanity has always desired to put an end to possible conflicts.27

2) Some more important and fundamental positive laws must help facilitate the completion of the natural law. These must be applications of natural law as for example those approved by the

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Federal Tribunal of Germany. Natural right has the mission of maintaining a hope open to a just right. When civil laws are separated from natural law moral permissiveness begins. More seriously the so called civil ethics as opposed to natural morality also begins. 3) Positive laws must fulfill those areas that are not explicitly contained in the natural law. They must favor justice and respect of human rights. Under this criterion are some permissive laws which endeavor to convert into norms some defects in social life. To elevate into a category of norm that which is lived on the street is a dangerous path confusing morality with legality. Such legal attitude abandons the sense of the law as a teacher of the person and seems not to fail to recognize that citizens in general are inclined to some minimal ethical demands. This temptation to which many legislators may fall is denounced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
The role of law is not to record what is done, but to help in promoting improvement. It is at all times the task of the State to preserve each person's rights and to protect the weakest. In order to do so the State will have to right many wrongs. The law is not obliged to sanction everything, but it cannot act contrary to a law which is deeper and more majestic than any human law: the natural law engraved in men's hearts by the Creator as a norm which reason clarifies and strives to formulate properly, and which one must always struggle to understand better, but which it is always wrong to contradict. Human law can abstain from punishment, but it cannot declare to be right what would be opposed to the natural law, for this opposition suffices to give the assurance that a law is not a law at all.28

4) The field remains open for a social normativity which takes into account the political, social, cultural, etc. plurality of each country and each period. St. Thomas affirmed that the governing body does not always have the best legislation:
As stated above (I-II, q. 96, a. 2) human law is given to all people among whom some are virtuous and others not. Hence human law was unable to forbid all that is contrary to virtue; and it suffices for it to prohibit what is inimical to society while it treats other matters as though they were lawful, not by approving but by not punishing them.29

4) Laws against natural law are unjust and therefore to them can be applied the principle: Lex unjusta nulla lex. This doctrine is common in Catholic theology and in the Magisterium. We cite a text from Pacem et Terris to prove this:
Since the right to command is required by the moral order and has its source in God, it follows that, if civil authorities pass laws or command anything opposed to the moral order and consequently contrary to the will of God, neither the laws made nor the authorizations granted can be binding on the consciences of the citizens, since God has more right to be obeyed than men. Otherwise, authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches: Human law has the true nature of law only in so far as it corresponds to right reason, and in this respect it is evident that it is derived from the eternal law. In so far as it falls short of right reason, a law is said to be a wicked law; and so, lacking the true nature of law, it is rather a kind of violence (no. 51).

In some fields of public opinion the conviction that the moral is legal is deeply ingrained. In this regard we find some slogans commonly derived from this belief:

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1) Legislators cannot impose charges on persons who do not practice certain moral ideals; 2) The legislator must respect the liberty of the subjects; 3) The legislator has to take into account the opinion of the majority; 4) The law must regulate that which is on the street on the level of secrecy.

The confusion between morality and legality notably lessens public morality given that society, not having a leading educator of law, is subjected to some demoralizing pressure when this attitude does not respond to what is morally correct. This pressure heightens because of the circumstances and the influence of the latest fashion or craze.
The phenomenon of sociological conformism consists in the influence exercised on the behavior of a citizen by the accepted models of conduct and approved in the social milieu in which it exists. It is the result of the pressure of the surroundings on the conduct of those who do what everybody else does, basing their style of life on the majority behavior which they follow because they accept it blindly or out of fear of criticism by those who they follow.3031

Obviously, the Christian moral attitude deals with going against the current and with attempt at making Christian moral norms penetrate social life. The mission to teach proper to the hierarchy has been urged by many church documents. At the same time, the action of Christians in the world is concretized in the being present in civil society. Vatican II urges this obligation: it is generally the function of the well-formed Christian conscience to see that the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city (G.S., 43).

1 2

J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971), 3. Ibid., 3-3. 3 The Republic, IV, 18, 444d. The Platonic concept of justice is understood in the social context of his time: the primacy of society over the individual person. In this regard the term unjust does not refer to the person but rather to the maladjustment which is produced when the good of the society is not followed. Individuals are subordinate to it. Thus, Plato defines justice as making each one his/her own, that means, that which corresponds to doing. Ibid., I, 6, 331a. 4 , Ibid., I, 331d-e. 5 Non est autem jus, ubi nulla justitia est; procul dubio colligitur, ubi justitia non est, non esse republicam. St. Augustine, De Civit Dei, XIX, 21, 1, in Patrologia Latina 41, 649. 6 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, V, 1, Patrologia Latina, 1129-1130. 7 Plato, Giogias, 469c. 8 Ibid., 469a-b. 9 Cicero, De Officiis, VII, 20. 10 Iustitia est habitus animi communi utilitate servata, suam cuique tribuens dignitatem. Cf. Cicero, De Invent Rethor, I, 53. 11 Id., De Republica, III, 22-23. 12 W. Kerber, La justicia como orden social justo, in AA. VV., Fe cristiana y sociedad moderna (Madrid: Ed. SM, 1992), 61. 13 The magisterium denounces (cf. Libertatis Nuntius, 5) 14 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertis Nuntius, 6-10. 15 St. Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, I, XXVIII, 127, Patrologia Latina, 16, 60-61. 16 Ibid, I, XXVIII, 130, Patrologia Latina 16, 61. 17 Ibid., I, XXVIII, 131, Patrologia Latina 16, 62. 18 Natura enim omnia omnibus in commune profudit. Ibid., I, XXVIII, 132, Patrologia Latina, 16, 62. 19 Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 58, a.1). 20 Ibid. 21 Corruptissima re publica, plurimae leges. Tacitus, Anales, 3 ,27. 22 Some of them are J. Messner, J. Pieper, A. Retzbach, C. Hentzen, G. Grundlach, O. von Nell-Bruening, B. Molitor, C. van Gestel, J. L. Gutirrez, J. Marias, etc. 23 A. Milln-Puelles, Personal y justicia social (Madrid: Ed. Rialp, 1973), 80-81. 24 Pius XII, Right-Conscienc: Discourse to the Rota Romana (November 13, 1949). 25 Discourse on Natural Law, October 13, 1955. 26 John Paul II, Address to the International Congress in Moral Theology (April 10, 1986). 27 Pius XII, Maximas conciliadoras (October 13, 1955), 6. 28 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion (November 18, 1974), no. 21. 29 Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 77, a. 1 ad 1. Human law cannot prohibit everything that natural law prohibits. Cf. ibid., I-II, q. 96, a. 3 ad 3. 30 A. de Fuenmayor, Legalidad, moralidad y cambio social (Pamplona, Eunsa, 1981), 31.
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