Columbans support Justice and Peace Networking

24th November 2018 - by Ellen Teague

Columbans at the NJPN Conference
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The National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales (NJPN) held its quarterly meeting at CAFOD’s London offices last Saturday. The Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) team was represented. 

Around 30 representatives of dioceses, religious orders and Catholic agencies shared their work in the areas of justice, peace and care for creation and discussed the future of Justice and Peace. Dioceses represented included Arundel and Brighton, Clifton, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Southwark and Westminster. Agencies present were Archbishop Romero Trust, CAFOD, Catholic Association for Racial Justice, Million Minutes, Operation Noah, Pax Christi, Seeking Sanctuary, and Together for the Common Good. The new worker on Environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales was present.

Forgotten People, Forgotten Places

There was feedback on plans for the 2019 annual conference 19-21 July. The Conference will be titled, ‘Forgotten People, Forgotten Places’, to be chaired by John Battle. It will hear from people working with vulnerable people at the margins of society in UK and seek responses from the Churches in Britain. The first confirmed speaker is Keith Hebden of the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield. Just last week a UN expert said poverty in the UK was widespread. Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty, said that despite being in the one of the world’s richest countries he had encountered “misery”. Levels of child poverty are “staggering” and 1.5 million people were destitute at some point in 2017, he reported.
The 2020 conference is being planned by the Northern Dioceses Environmental Group, the NJPN Environment Group, Nottingham Diocese J&P and Green Christian. It aims to update Christian witness for justice and peace in the light of recent developments in papal teaching, thinking on integral ecology, movements such as ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and scientific advice to policy makers. Systemic change to address economic-ecological crises will be explored and inspirational initiatives which lower carbon footprints and build a sustainable future.

people from different generations discussed their faith

There was discussion around involving more young people in justice and peace work, and many thought young people tend to have a strong sense of social justice, but not always linked to faith. A focus on formation for social justice was called for – but acknowledged to be very difficult to implement with the meagre financial resources in the Justice and Peace movement. Recent inter-generational discussions, where people from different generations discussed their faith and its role in their engagement in justice and peace, were thought to be very useful. Several members of Columban JPIC have been involved in that.

a push for the new Global Healing Resource,

A round-the-room opportunity for sharing information highlighted Middlesbrough launching its Environmental Policy, Westminster and Southwark outreaching to young refugees in the Calais area, and Liverpool’s use of social media and videos to maximise work. The Columban Schools Journalism Competition on ‘The Challenge of Climate Change’ was highlighted. Information from agencies included: a push for the new Global Healing Resource, produced by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; CAFOD’s current retreats on ‘Countering Consumerism’; celebrating that 48 parishes have now achieved the Livesimply award; and Pax Christi’s plans for its annual Advent Carol Service on 11 December and Peace Sunday on 20 January 2019. Pax Christi’s new schools and youth education worker Aisling Griffin gave a short presentation on working with young people.

After the networking time, many NJPN members set out for Westminster Abbey for an evensong commemoration of the canonisation of Saint Oscar Romero, a patron of NJPN. Several set out for the AGM of Green Christian.

Links to Columban collaborators:
NJPN – https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/
Green Christian – http://greenchristian.org.uk/