Columban to speak at NJPN Conference

19th July 2017 - by Fr Denis Carter

Peter Hughes lobbying in Washington on behalf of Amazonian indigenous people
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“Laudato Si’ is centre-stage in the life of the Catholic Church” says a Columban priest and CAFOD partner who will be speaking at the National Justice and Peace Network annual conference 21-23 July. The theme is, ‘A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor: The challenge of Pope Francis’.

Fr Peter Hughes, says Laudato Si’ has helped raise awareness of the fragility of the planet we live on”. More than that, it has “highlighted that combating poverty and protecting the natural world go together”. An Irish Columban priest, who has spent five decades as a missionary based in Latin America, he will report on Church initiatives to protect the biodiversity of life in the Amazon and the three million indigenous people of the rainforest. He will point to Paragraph 139 of Laudato Si’ which says: “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

Lives, land and culture are being destroyed by the onslaught of extractive industries, particularly mining and oil, and the construction of mega hydroelectric dams and agribusiness industries. He will say that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has serious global consequences for the stability of the planet’s climate.

His talk will be from the perspective of Latin America’s poorest communities, and reflect upon the renewal expressed by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. Peter Hughes is an advisor to the Instituto Bartolome de las Casas and CELAM, the collegial council of Latin American bishops. He works with REPAM, the Pan-Amazonia Ecclesial Network, and was part of a REPAM delegation which recently lobbied in Washington on behalf of indigenous communities living in the Amazon rainforest.

Other speakers include KATHY GALLOWAY, a former leader of both the Iona Community and Christian Aid Scotland and a published poet, author and hymn writer, who will speak to ‘Revaluing the Common Joys’. And DR RUTH VALERIO, the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director for Tearfund, whose talk is entitled, ‘Made for Love: living out the integral ecology of Pope Francis’. The author of ‘Just Living – Faith and Community in an Age of Consumerism’ and ‘L is for Lifestyle’, she says: “Pope Francis has presented us with the challenge of living with love and joy in this our common home. Let’s look afresh at his words and see how we might begin living them out today”.

The conference chair is SUSY BROUARD, Theology Programme Advisor for CAFOD, who says: “The challenge of Pope Francis is the challenge of the Gospel. Both invite us to encounter each human person and all of creation with a spirit of radical hospitality and inclusivity. Often this can be difficult when we feel on our own. My hope for the conference, therefore, is that we will inspire and motivate one another to move “away from what I want to what God’s world needs” (Laudato Si’, # 9), and that we will feel inspired to live out more fully the ‘Sabbath’ in our own lives – rest, awe, wonder, contemplation and creativity.”


organised by Church Action on Poverty, will highlight the marginalisation of communities in Britain. Saturday evening will see a performance of “Romero – the Heartbeat of El Salvador” and during the weekend Archbishop Oscar Romero will become a patron of NJPN.


include: Care for Creation; Sustainable Agriculture; Mining; Indigenous People; Stigmatisation of the poor; Divestment from fossil fuels; Archbishop Romero; Modern Slavery; Volunteering; Workplace Chaplaincy; Refugees. There will be time for relaxing and contemplative activities such as walks, art, and poetry.

Children and young people are a vital part of the NJPN conference. There will be a crèche for children under 5 and a programme for 5 to 11 year olds. 12 to 16/18 year olds will explore the conference theme in an active and thought-provoking weekend led by a Columban/Pax Christi/Salesian team.