The material for this post appeared in the March 2016 J&P Newsletter

The second of our Open Meetings took place in Bradford at St.Cuthbert’s church hall, part of the parish of St.Cuthbert & First Martyrs on Wed 24 Feb.

The idea of these meetings is to have an exchange: for members of the Commission to talk about the work that the Commission has been doing and to give the opportunity for people in local areas to talk about their own social justice concerns and what they have been up to in their own church communities.

People from three different parishes in the Bradford area came along to join in the discussion.

At our first Open Meeting – in Skipton – the plight of refugees featured prominently in discussions; it was the same in Bradford, with particular reference being made to Abigail Housing which supports destitute refugees and asylum seekers in a similar way to St.Monica’s Housing in Leeds.

Similarly, the increase in UK poverty aroused a lot of discussion – with people actively involved in local food banks, the plight of homeless people and with the provision of housing for ex-prisoners.

The St.Cuthbert’s church community had recently introduced “Messy Church” sessions.“Messy Church”, which originated in other Christian churches as a way of better involving all age groups, has become increasingly popular amongst Catholic parishes as a way of better engaging with families. At St.Cuthbert’s they have been successful in reaching out to local families. The complication is that the majority of people coming along are Muslims. Consequently, much greater thought has to be given to any prayers or inputs that are provided so that they work in an inter-faith context. It is proving to be a good motivation for exploring spirit-based ethics and focussing on commonalities! It is early days as yet but It has the potential to be a real ‘bridge builder’ between the Catholic and Muslim communities in the local area.

Chair of the Commission, John Battle, talked about the Commission’s conference on Climate Change and how Christians of all varieties have shown a great interest in the Pope’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’.  People at the meeting agreed that Climate Change was important and raised a number of questions that warrant further examination by the Commission. For instance, what is happening at a diocesan level to move towards being a fossil fuel-free diocese?