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50 Years Ago In 1971: The World Synod of Bishops Sounded A Call For Justice


Pope Paul VI addresses the 1971 Synod of Bishops at the Vatican. (RNS photo)

Justice in the World is a document that resulted from the 1971 Synod of Bishops, Second General Assembly (in The Gospel of Peace and Justice: Catholic Social Teaching Since Pope John, edited by Joseph Gremillion, Orbis, 1976)

Arthur McCormack. Tablet (20 November 1971) 1115. “The Synod was of historic importance. First of all it put the Church, openly and publicly and with very wide agreement, squarely on the side of those who are against injustice, on the side of the poor and oppressed and those millions whose voices are not heard often enough. The Synod has put the theme of justice, and especially social justice and concern for this world, into the very center of the Church’s life…. The question of poverty and justice in the Church itself was given due importance, though not to the extent that it overshadowed the real world problems or gave the impression of an introverted Church only concerned with itself.”

Peter J Henriot SJ Chicago Studies (1972) 115-16. “What makes the Synod document uniquely important, and worth more than the usual passing notice, is its emphasis upon the theme of social sin. That emphasis is the key to what I argue can be considered a ‘new’ theology of the Church’s social involvement–‘new’ at least in the sense that it has never before been so clearly explicated in an authoritative Roman document. Theologically, it helps us to understand more completely and adequately both 1) why the Church is socially involved, and 2) how the Church is socially involved.”