Walter J Burghardt was recently senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, and founder and director of the Center's project Preaching the Just Word. He has published 18 books including his memoir, Long Have I Loved You. Although Burghardt is interested in legal and ethical justice, his abiding love is for Biblical justice which he sees as fidelity to relationships and an emphasis upon the responsibilities coming from a covenant with God. This foundation provides a framework for Catholic social teaching which embraces the dignity of the human person, a preferential option for the poor, and care for the nonhuman creation. The author quotes the theologian Emil Brunner who said: "Love is justice passed around." That definition would appeal to Jesus who modeled the compassion inherent in service of others.
In a poignant and broad chapter entitled "Justice Applied," Burghardt takes a hard look at arenas where Christians and other religious people can work together to build a more equitable and loving world. He covers the poverty of children, the prejudice against the elderly, the terrible treatment of immigrants, life in prison, capital punishment and the mentally retarded, consumerism, ecology, homeless veterans, and the Persian Gulf Wars. This material contains many eye-opening facts, including the revelation that the European Union and the 41 member Council of Europe bar admission to any nation that has not banned the death penalty. Considering the present day economic abyss between the rich and the poor, he pulls out a quotation from John F. Kennedy: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
Burghardt covers what he sees as the necessary and close relationship between liturgy and justice and follows that with a complicated overview of justice in the context of globalization. The final section of this paperback is a surprise: a listing of organizations and their websites under the umbrellas of peace, politics, environmental justice, public health, and other church-related initiatives.