Renewing the work of Justice & Peace in the Leeds Diocese
Justice & Peace is the work of everyone
There is no getting around it: Justice & Peace is the work of everyone in the Diocese of Leeds. It’s as much part of being a Catholic as going to mass, helping the SVP in some way or saying the rosary. The document that came out of the second ordinary World Synod of Bishops in 1971 (called Justice in the World) includes this magisterial statement – which puts it rather more inspirationally:
“Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appears to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
So, a little over 50 years ago we have a very clear statement that working to transform the world is an essential part of being a Catholic. Being a Catholic is not just about going to mass on a Sunday or putting a few quid in the SVP box every now and again: it’s about transforming the world!
Transforming the world sounds a lot more exciting than the usual messages about living a ‘good’ life– but what does it mean? It means interacting with those who hold power (whether it be at local, national or a global level) to make our world a more just place. Inevitably, this means taking political action, irrespective of which party is in power. There are so many injustices ranging from the national scandal of so many people in the UK having to use a foodbank in the fifth richest country in the world, to the inhuman proposals for the treatment of people trying to cross the Channel, to the desperate need for greater action globally about Climate Change. I could go on, but it would be a very long list.
So where does anyone start? As with so many things, the important thing is to actually start. St Oscar Romero put it like this: –
“We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.”
You need to work out for yourself what issue(s) of justice and peace you feel strongly about and do something about them. ‘This could be as simple as adding your name to a petition about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. For some parishioners it has meant offering a prophetic witness about our treatment of God’s creation by choosing to glue themselves to the motorway.
There is so much injustice in our world that it is easy to be overwhelmed by it and just give up. This is why I particularly like the Romero quote that recognises that we all have limitations – but that we must all do something. Who knows? – you might end up transforming the world.