Report from the Justice and Peace Group
27 August 2023
This weekend, I am very happy to share with the parish an extended article, written by members of our parish Justice and Peace Group reflecting on the National Conference they attended recently.
The National Conference of the National Justice & Peace Network took place, as usual at the Swanwick Christian Centre in Derbyshire with five members of the Parishes Justice & Peace Group attending. The theme of the Conference was Sustainability? Survival or Shutdown. The United Nation’s Sustainable
Development Goals were signed in 2015 when 193 countries came together including the British Government and endorsed seventeen goals including eradicating extreme poverty both nationally and internationally, hunger and ensure food security and life on land and under the water. When this document was signed with bold and transformative steps to achieve the ams by 2030. Only twelve per cent of the aims have been achieved to date.
The conference was opened by Brian O’Toole, Director of the Presentation Sisters Justice Desk for Ireland and England. The International Presentation Association is committed to the cry of the Earth and to people kept poor and does this by embracing the SDGs in a human rights framework, addressing such issues as women and children, and care of creation and the rights indigenous peoples.
Christine Allen, Executive Director of CAFOD said in her presentation work for justice is part of preaching the Gospel. Christine works closely with partners round the world, and this was illustrated by a video from a
partner, Caritas Brazil and embraces the SDGs principle leave no one behind. There were examples of work with partners in Kenya in drought stricken Marsabit, Northern Kenya with pastoral farmers and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the victims of sexual violence due to conflict. This was applauded by those listening.
Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Chair of Westminster Diocese Justice & Peace Commission with Columban Missionary, Fr Ed O’Connell. Fr Dominic’s message highlighted the Hope that working for justice and peace brings and the huge amount of good work going on, singling support for
asylum seekers and people in need with food banks and advocacy on decarbonisation. He called for more integration with local Catholic communities.
The third speaker was Sir John Battle, Chair of Leeds Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission. John spoke about the work for justice and peace at a local level in Leeds with the poorest communities in the city. He said that we need to shift from charitable action to challenging the causes of injustice in line with the preferential option for the poor contained in the SDGs. The film The Letter was shown to finish the evening. It follows the stories of environmental champions from around the world, each one facing the effects of the planetary crisis, as they talk to each other and his Holiness Pope Francis and built new bonds to face the future with hope.
There were twelve workshops (participants attended a maximum of two) which meant a very busy weekend for those of us from the parish who attended. There were messages from Fr Joshtrum Isaac Kureethadam of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urging participants to promote theSDGs and Laudato Si Action Platform. May justice and peace embrace so the life of all can flourish.
The overall message of the conference was one of Hope. Participants were urged to advocate in their dioceses for a fairer society and world and sustainability.
My thanks to the Justice and Peace Group for this article.