Can there be peace without Justice. By Rev. Friar Charles Lwanga Augustino Maria of the Cross. ( Mola Charles Lyonga La Matute). Religious, philosopher, poet, jurist and political scientist.

Justice delayed is justice denied, there can be no justice with out truth. You cannot be praying for peace and at the same time reasoning with the oppressor. A law of limitation allows room for a case to be prosecuted within a limited period of time. Failing to prosecute within the said time will amount to the right to prosecute expiring.

Many people have asked me why do I go condemning the atrocities committed against my people rather than praying as a man of God. My answer will be found on my article entitled; “Can there be peace without justice?”

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace(Justitia et Pax) was a dicastery of the Roman Curia dedicated to “action-oriented studies” for the international promotion of justice, peace, and human rights from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church. To this end, it cooperates with various religious institutes and advocacy groups, as well as scholarly, ecumenical, and international organizations.

Among its reference works is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Effective 1 January 2017, the work of the Council was assumed by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Cardinal Peter Turkson became Prefect of the Dicastery.

Aristotle’s dictum that true prudence cannot exist without the moral virtues and that the latter cannot exist without prudence, their director, finds its experimental proof in the life of the just man. Prudence, in truth, is the “charioteer of the virtues,” the “right way of doing things.”

The principal reason for this connection of the virtues is: Each person considers that end agreeable which is in harmony with his affections. The ambitious man finds agreeable whatever is favorable to his ambition, the mild man whatever is comformable with mildness.

In practice, each person judges according to his own inclinations of will and emotion. If, therefore, these inclinations are not rectified by virtues, the practical judgment will not be right. At times this judgment may appear prudent because of a certain perspicacity, expertness or astuteness, but it will not be truly prudent, because in it there will be a defect either of justice or patience or temperance or mildness or simplicity; perhaps there will be a certain duplicity, haste, or laziness.

The Holy Spirit, therefore, when He comes into the soul, connects through prudence and charity the infused virtues, and even the acquired virtues if previously there has been sufficient exercise to acquire them. Thus, all virtues grow together, says St. Thomas, “like the five fingers of a hand.

…there is need, right from the start, to learn gradually and prudently to see all things in the light of faith, to judge and act always in its light. Pope Paul VI, Apostolicam Actuositatem 29

Our call to act for justice comes from Jesus. In His greatest command – ‘love one another as I have loved you’, we hear the call to love as Jesus did. That means to bring everyone but especially the poor, ill, frail, unwanted and outcast near to us and show the kind of love that witnesses their innate dignity, the kind of love that shows that people are not alone or unwanted, the kind that says ‘I will stand with you and not standby while others run roughshod over your humanity’. It must be the kind that says ‘I will love you as Jesus does and for as long as He does’. Jesus showed his love on the Cross – imperfect though our attempts will be we are called to love that greatly, that deeply, that sacrificially!

So, what is Catholic Social Teaching?

Pope John Paul II wrote, “The Church’s social teaching finds its source in Sacred Scripture, beginning with the Book of Genesis and especially in the Gospel and the writings of the Apostles. From the beginning, it was part of the Church’s teaching…[It was] developed by the teaching of the Popes on the modern “social question,” beginning with the encyclical, Rerum Novarum.”

This first great social teaching came in 1891 from Pope Leo XIII. Rerum Novarum or ‘Capital and Labour’ raises issues such as the dignity of the human being and the importance of work being at the service of people and not the other way around. Pope Leo also presented the decidedly Catholic principle of preferential option for the poor. We have since had many other teachings right up to Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, ‘On the Care of our Common Home’. Collectively, the Church has developed these teachings into a rich body of doctrine called Catholic Social Teaching.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace explains that CST “is the expression of the way that the Church understands society and of her position regarding social structures and changes. The whole of the Church community—priests, religious, and laity—participates in the formulation of this social doctrine.”

We can distill the detail and specific issues of CST into a few key principles. These should be our guiding way for all justice work.

The Dignity of the Human Person
‘Individual human beings are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution’. – Pope John XXIII

This is the very basis of all Catholic Social Teaching because it is based on the notion that we are each of God, for God and expressions of God. We have an inviolable dignity. Anything that is offensive to that dignity is unjust. This must be our continual reference point for identifying injustice and in determining the ways we respond.

Ghana’s Coat of Arms significantly bear thewords “Freedom & Justice” [without mentioning ‘peace’] simply because freedom & justice are the foundations on which peace and development will thrive! Justice is therefore on balance, a pre-condition to peace and cannot be reversed

Following on the recent 7th Dec ’12 Parliamentary and Presidential elections in Ghana, the word PEACE has done the rounds many times over, particularly from the propaganda machinery of the NDC as well as from well meaning but simplistic viewpoints of several other citizenry. It is therefore important to give a clear definition of both peace and justice to determine whether they are mutually exclusive concepts, or that one cannot exist without the other.

Wikipedia defines peace as follows: “Peaceis a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict and the freedom from fear of violence. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility,”

Wikipedia also defines Justice as : “The notion of justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion or equity. It is also the act of being just and/or fair”

I dare say from the definitions given that it would be disingenuous to presume that peace is more important than justice. Indeed, by its very nature, the absence of fairness and justice is a recipe for inevitable absence of peace [hostility]. Not to belabour the point, most violent revolutions have been as a result of the absence of justice and fairness. Slaves rose in rebellion against oppressive [unjust owners]; the Civil Rights marches of Martin Luthur King Jnr were against an unjust system of segregation; the unjust, unfair and discriminatory Apartheid regime in South Africa was violently resisted by the ANC and Nelson Mandela ; even Mahatma Gandhi’s famous non-violent campaign was actually a campaign against the injustice of British imperialist rule. Finally, the recent ‘Arab Spring’ was an uprising against decades of undemocratic, unelected, monarchic, corrupt, brutal, unjust and unfair regimes.

Against the background of the examples cited where the absence of fairness, and justice led ultimately to the absence of peace, it is now relevant focussing on the recent Anglophone problem experience for the sake of perspective.

For how long must the cheated be asked to turn the other cheek in the name of so called peace? What is the guarantee that the cheat would be magnanimous next time around and play fair? How is future fairness to be assumed when it is true that current power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Perhaps a more credible peace would be achieved where an unfair, unjust and corrupt system is challenged/tackled now, so as to instil responsibility in persons charged with conducting future elections.

I get so frustrated hearing on radio and TV; reading from newsreel and the social networks, supporters of LRC as well as indeed some dubious intellectuals who all plead that ‘for the sake of peace Ambazonians should subdue’! What then is glaringly and dangerously ignored or subjugated is, justice and fairness towards Ambazonians.

It is not a shouting contest where the party that shouts ‘peace, peace’ loudest is the true adherent of peace. Action, as is said, speaks louder than words! If you peddle an image of peace and condone acts that exclude actual peace through the absence of fairness and justice, you lose the moral right to the accolade of a peaceful party. It is the not the peaceful gathering in one tiny spot of by people who are paid by the oppressors to keep up deflated spirits pending the legal fight that is a threat to peace, rather, it is the injustice that has necessitated this gathering and march that is a greater threat to peace. How can we talk of peace and dialogue when we call the oppressed terrorists?

Reggae superstar Peter Tosh sums the value of justice with these words: “Everyone is crying out for peace, but none of them is crying for justice…….Equal rights and justice….”. Equal rights [ fairness] + Justice = peaceful co-existence in the world.

This is the essence of a state of Peace that is doctored without one of its core ingredients: Justice. Peace without Justice is both unsustainable and fragile, and will only culminate in the complete denigration of the fabric of any social set up. Justice offers not only a sense of closure, but also keeps a certain level of significance in place for the Rule of Law, thereby creating a space where peace is automatically fostered into existence. In any social setting, in the aftermath of war, this is essential. Principles of Transitional Justice then come into play, where a post-conflict society finds ways to rebuild itself.

A crime like Genocide has no law of limitation, or statute of limitations. To this end, therefore, seeking justice in the form of compensation or financial recompense is not automatically barred. The pursuit of justice is not unfounded. Acceptance of history and seeking justice for a historic crime is one of the foremost values for the future. Unless a past is addressed, healed and attended to in a wholesome manner, no future can be stable. In every rendition of history, the truth must be accounted for in entirety. History that is written by a victors’ hand could shape a future that is built on falsehood, and a future built on a falsehood will keep a circle of conflict alive. In acknowledging a truth, necessary effort must be made to account for the truth, to act on the truth, and to engage in closure. What Germany will choose to offer Namibia as a response remains to be seen – but if a precedent must be set for the world, that peace cannot sustain without justice, this is the opportunity.

The head of state of La Republique of Cameroun through his ministers send envelopes to victims of their atrocities is no solution to the crisis.

  1. Peace without justice is tyranny. – William Allen White
  2. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. – James Baldwin
  3. My mama used to tell me, “If you can’t find somethin’ to live for, you best find something’ to die for.” – Tupac Shakur
  4. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable. – John F. Kennedy
  5. I do believe that where there is only a choice between violence and cowardice, I would advise violence. – Mahatma Ghandi
  6. In the end we must remember that no amount of rules or their enforcement will enforce those who struggle with justice on their side. – Nelson Mandela
  7. Where there is power, there is resistance. – Michel Foucault
  8. Fighting for one’s freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good Jew or a good Muslim or good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again. – Maya Angelou
  9. A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect. – W.E.B. Du Bois
  10. Truth is powerful and it prevails. – Sojourner Truth
  11. I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to someone else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance. – bell hooks
  12. Corn can’t expect justice from a court composed of chickens. – African proverb
  13. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying. – Joan of Arc
  14. Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. – Frederick Douglas
  15. Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. – Haile Selassie I
  16. A riot is the language of the unheard. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  17. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Theresa
  18. Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  19. There is no true peace without fairness, truth, justice, and solidarity. – St. Pope John Paul II
  20. Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense. – Ida Wells
  21. Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony. – Noam Chomsky
  22. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. – Malcolm X
  23. In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. – Albert Einstein.
  24. The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them. – Lois McMaster Bujold
  25. True peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice. – Jane Addams
  26. Despair and frustration will not shake our belief that the resistance is the only way of liberation. – Emile Lahoud
  27. A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man. – Tacitus
  28. Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice. – Corazon Aquino
  29. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. – Desmond Tutu
  30. Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell
  31. To the wrongs that need resistance, to the right that needs assistance, to the future in the distance: Give yourselves. – Carrie Chapman Catt
  32. It is highly convenient to believe in the infinite mercy of God when you feel the need of mercy, but remember also his infinite justice. – B.R. Hayden
  33. In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? – St. Augustine .

Let us learn to find things were they got misplaced if not our efforts are hypocritical. People calling for prayers for peace who cannot condemn the regime are not different from the prophets of Jezebel. Jn. 8.32.Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Rev. Friar Charles Lwanga Augustino Maria of the Cross. ( Mola Charles Lyonga La Matute). Religious, philosopher, poet, jurist and political scientist. Southern Cameroonian Ambazonian Roman Catholic Missionary.



Comments 4

  1. Aloysius' Mbako says:

    I like this analysis which takes into consideration all aspects in the equilibrium to build a medium of justice. I agree with the idea that peace can only be obtained if justice and equity exist.

    • McLyonga says:

      Thank you Doctor how I wish peace crusaders could follow this pattern

  2. Robert Nginyu Tanto says:

    Many thanks for this pertinent write-up. At this time when consciously or unconsciously the Church in the troubled country, Cameroun, through its National Episcopal Conference leadership is propounding to bypass JUSTICE in the pursuit of PEACE, the wide circulation of this beautiful write-up could wake some voices that are still silent or not loud enough to raise awareness among those in the Church in Cameroun who follow without questioning.

    • McLyonga says:

      Thanks for your comments and appreciation. How I wish this article gets to the targeted audience as you have rightly put it.

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