Pope Francis to Judges: Justice Recognizes "human dignity as sacred and inviolable"

Pope Francis meets members of Italy’s High Council of the Judiciary at the Paul VI Audience Hall, April 8, 2022. Vatican Media.

Addressing a group of Italian judges, lawyers, and politicians on Friday, Pope Francis said that the administration of justice requires recognizing the sacredness of human dignity.

“Throughout history there are different ways in which the administration of justice has established ‘what is due’: according to merit, according to need, according to ability, according to its usefulness,” the pope said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on April 8.

“For the biblical tradition, the duty is to recognize human dignity as sacred and inviolable,” he observed.

Francis talked to members of the High Council of the Judiciary, the self-governing institution responsible for the regulation of the judiciary in Italy, together with their families.

The pope spoke about the concept of justice as it is represented in classical art: as a blindfolded woman holding balancing scales.


“Thus allegorically expressing the equality, fair proportion, impartiality required in the exercise of justice,” he said.

“According to the Bible,” he added, “it is also necessary, in addition, to administer [justice] with mercy.”

“But no political reform of justice can change the life of those who administer it, if one does not first choose, in front of one’s conscience, ‘for whom,’ ‘how’ and ‘why’ to do justice,” the pope continued. “It is a decision of one’s conscience. This is what St. Catherine of Siena taught when she said that in order to reform, one must first reform oneself.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Rosario Livatino, a Catholic judge who was brutally killed by the mafia in Sicily in 1990.

Quoting Livatino, Pope Francis said: “When we die, no one will come and ask us how much we were believers, but believable.”

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“Livatino,” he noted, “was murdered at the age of 38, leaving us the strength of his credible testimony, but also the clarity of an idea of a judiciary to which to strive.”

“May Bl. Rosario Livatino, the first magistrate beatified in the history of the Church, be of help and comfort to you,” he said.

Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.