The Justice and Peace Commission is one of the commissions for the social pastoral care of the Catholic Church. His primary concern is to establish justice and peace in the community to contribute to the integral development of everybody.
This Commission is an emanation of the Second Vatican Council which had wished for the creation of an organism of the universal Church to incite the Catholic community to promote the development of the poor regions and the social justice between the “Gaudium et Spes n ° 90 “.
In response to this desire, on 6/1/1967, by the Motu Proprio “catholica Christi ecclesiam”, Pope Paul VI created the Pontifical Commission “Justitia and Pax”. Two months later, the encyclical “Populorum Progressio” underlined the importance of the commission whose name alone is already quite a program.
After an experimental period of ten years, the Commission receives from Pope Paul VI its final status by the Motu Proprio “Justitiam and Pacem” of December 10, 1976.
During the reorganization of the Roman Curia operated by the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” of 28/06/1988, Pope John Paul II transformed the commission into a Pontifical Council, while confirming its general orientations.
The same pontifical decree ordered the creation of the National Justice and Peace Commissions in each country.
It is in this spirit that the Catholic Bishops of Rwanda created the Episcopal Commission “Justice and Peace” which gave birth to the Diocesan Commissions “Justice and Peace”.
The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in Rwanda was created in 1988 to begin operations in 1992. Its work was interrupted by the 1994 Tutsi genocide and was revived in 1997.
The Justice and Peace Commission in Rwanda is mandated by the CEPR to urge all Rwandan people, especially the Catholic community, to imbibe the values of peace and justice for the promotion of human dignity.
After 1994, this Commission has a special mission in its commitment to contribute to the reconstruction of the Rwandan social fabric torn apart by the atrocities of genocide and war through a vast program of peace building by listening and healing injured hearts while extending the process of unity and reconciliation.
On the side of the Diocese of Cyangugu, the pastoral ministry of justice and peace was resumed in 1997-1998, on the eve of the special synod (Gacaca Chrétien) which examined the debates condemning ethnicity in favor of reconciliation.
The ordinary of the place thought of setting up its structures from the diocesan level to the level of the basic ecclesial community. He appointed in 1999, the president of this Commission (a priest), the members (laity) representing the Commission in the parishes. Basically, it decided the appointment of mediators (or apostles of peace) as facilitators in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the basic ecclesial community.
As part of the successful completion of this mandate, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Cyangugu operates through various components, the main ones to mention:
• Capacity building of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission at all levels (Diocesan, Parish, Central and Basic Ecclesial Community) to make them more operational,
• Education in the values of justice and peace and reconciliation, focusing particularly on raising the awareness of youth, women and other adults in promoting the values of peace and justice.
• Education for the respect of human rights by raising awareness of national and international principles and laws,
Among the approaches implemented by the Justice and Peace Commission of Cyangugu are: advocacy, establishing dialogue space, educational campaigns, listening, training and spiritual journey.
Volunteering and synergy with other actors are vertical approaches and these are seen as beneficial in increasing returns.
The initiatives of this Commission are financially supported by external donors including Secours Catholique / Caritas France, CAFOD, Mensen met een Missie, SCIAF and CRS.
In order to better harmonize and reinforce its interventions to the ground, the Justice and Peace Commission has a five-year Strategic Plan to offer better development services in its sector to the population of the Diocese of Cyangugu and its beneficiaries in particular.
As a targeted area of intervention, this plan focuses on:
• Conflict management,
• Reconciliation and community healing,
• Protection of human rights and advocacy.