Category Archives: Meetings

Latest news from the National Justice and Peace Network Environment Group

 Actions/comments from 43rd Meeting of the National Justice and Peace Network Environment Group, November 23rd 2016

COPP Talks in Morocco – Please read Sally’s Tyldesley blog for a comprehensive view. Main highlights – over 190 countries have agreed to ratify, a majority of these countries have already signed so far, including the UK. A ratchet system has been proposed to monitor/regulate conditions. The 2018 conference likely to be held in Poland.

Fracking – The group will review the current situation and produce an updated statement.

Diocesan Environmental Policies – We are continuing to push policies within the diocesan context. 2 dioceses, Caritas Salford and. Arundel and Brighton are progressing well.

Disinvestment from fossil fuels – On 19th November, a group representative attended a joint meeting held by Operation Noah and the Quakers updating the present Bright Now and Ethical Investment campaign. See the Bright Now campaign.   

Climate Change – A statement welcoming the UK commitment to ratify the Paris agreement was issued in November. Next Year’s Climate week will take place July 2nd to July 9th

Paper on consultation with the Bishops’ Conference over environmental structure – A paper outlining our proposals has been agreed and sent to Bishops Conference.

NJPN Conference July 2017 – The conference will be on Laudato Si’ and the economic issues it has raised- Maria Alana and Ellen Teague are the groups representative on the steering committee.

Live Simply Award Update – 23 parishes now have registered for the award + one university chaplaincy, 15 dioceses are involved, 7 schools also. The group are continuing to encourage and monitor progress.  See the CAFOD website for more.

CAFOD Campaigning – CAFOD will be promoting green heart stickers, along with a children’s liturgy and video

There will be an emphasis on Energy in April. Wednesday Jan 25th a talk on Faith and Climate

Season of Creation – Interest is definitely building on the Season of Creation, partly due to the excellent work of the Global Catholic Climate Coalition. The global picture is available here. The Environment group will compile resources produced this year for making available next year

Other items of interest:

Green Christians campaigns – Joy in Enough – another conference is planned for Autumn 2017, Way of life – there will be a day held on January 28th At St Aloysius, Euston. See the website more information 

Future Events

28 January – Green Christian Way of Life Day at St. Aloysius, Euston

28 January – Arundel and Brighton J&P Assembly, DABCEC, Crawley “Am I agood Neighbour – Globalisation and the Fair Society; Speakers: Fr Augusto Davies CAFOD and Jenny Sinclair Together the Common Good – www.dabnet.org/courses

21-23 July 2017 NJPN annual conference. Working title: ‘Sabbath for the Earth and Poor; The challenge of Pope Francis’

Next Meeting: Wednesday 22nd February 1-4pm at CAFOD

 

NJPN AGM and Open Networking Day

NJPN Annual General Meeting and Open Networking Day took place on Saturday 14 May 2016 at CAFOD,
Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JB.

The main input was a presentation by Daniel McNamara and from Prison Advice and Care Trust (pact)

‘Hear Our Voice’: The experiences of children and young people who have experienced a family member being arrested, tried or imprisoned

For more information on the work of the Prison Advice and Care trust:

Click here

NJPN Open Meeting with Church Action on Poverty

National Justice & Peace Network Open Networking Day, 13 February 2016

Hunger, homelessness and destitution were the main themes when the National Justice & Peace Network hosted an open networking day in the Methodist Central Hall in Manchester in February. The main input came from Liam Purcell from Church Action on Poverty and Dave Smith of the Boaz Trust.

In the morning, after a prayerful reflection focussing on hunger led by members of Salford Diocese J&P committee, Liam introduced END HUNGER UK. This is CAP’s latest campaign hoping to end food poverty and hunger in UK by the end of 2020. Liam reminded us that adequate food for everyone is a human right and together we considered some of the implications this. For instance the government is legally required to ensure food security for its citizens and can be held to account for not doing so. END HUNGER UK is a coalition of several groups with a focus on food provision; CAP is acting co-ordinator. In table groups we discussed the various reasons people are without food and resorting in greater numbers to food banks. Benefit delays and sanctions were the most usual but also low pay, job insecurity, no free meals in school holidays were offered as secondary reasons. This session finished with suggestions for ways of supporting the campaign.

See further detail here:

People had come from various parts of the country to the meeting to join locals from the Greater Manchester area. Lunchtime offered a welcome break to chat, to read some of the written reports posted on the walls and also to browse Julian Filochowski’s book stall. He is winding this up so there were good bargains as well as free books available.

The afternoon session focused on the Boaz Trust which serves destitute refugees and asylum seekers in the Manchester area. Dave Smith who founded the Trust in 2004 gave us the background to this and showed how much it has grown over the years. Now run by a steering group of 8 it was registered as a charity in June 2015. Last year it provided accommodation for 1,328 people: two thirds were male and mainly singles from various countries. They are not currently taking people from Europe. Dave said the Trust is providing an immediate response to peoples’ problems but a long term political solution is needed. Maybe even more necessary is a change in people’s hearts and mind with regard to asylum. Helpful weekly Lenten reflections and prayers are available on The Jesuit Refugee Service website.

During the day there were reports from the environment and media NJPN working parties as well as from various agencies and diocesan J&P Commissions. Attendees from Westminster Archdiocese spoke of the consultation currently taking place as to the future direction of justice and peace. It was felt that the voices of lay people were being heard. There was some discussion about conference themes for 2017 & 18 which was interesting as for many like myself, Swanwick is the main annual opportunity for personal involvement with NJPN.

There were also reports from various agencies with dates of events during the year:
Stop Trident Rally Feb 27 –it was suggested you join the Faith section to show faith communities care. Take an NJPN flag to wave!
Romero Trust 15 -19 March Romero Week – a lecture by Francisco de Roux JS March 15 – Edinburgh, March 16 – Leeds and March 17 Manchester Also a National Ecumenical Service on March 19 St Martin-in –the Fields London 11 am
A Pilgrimage to El Salvador is planned Nov 7 -19 . This will probably be the last.
Pax Christi March 8 International Women’s Day. Help to celebrate women peacemakers by writing to women you know and some you don’t – there are postcards to send and suggestions on Pax Christi website
May 21 AGM in Leeds
CAFOD are planning an MP correspondence action for the World Humanitarian Summit in May.
ACAT – Action by Christians Against Torture have moved their AGM on Oct 15th from Bristol to London
Housing Justice Alison Gelder highlighted CHAS (Catholic Housing Aid Society) Diamond Jubilee this year. J & P groups are asked to hold one event during the year to reflect on the current housing situation and commit to taking an action to make a difference. There will be small group resources available on the Housing Justice website before the end of March.

It was an interesting informative day and may inspire some of us to travel further for an open day in future.

Joy and Hope at the NJPN Open Networking Day

Laudato Si’ and Green Christian’s ‘Joy in Enough’ project have roots in the spirituality of St Francis, Paul Bodenham, Chair of Green Christian, told the September gathering of National Justice and Peace Network in Coventry last Saturday. ‘New’ or ‘green’ economics challenge the prevailing orthodoxy of the need for growth as the basis of prosperity, as this is unsustainable for the planet and tends towards greater inequalities of wealth. He put this in the context of the principles of Franciscan spirituality – fraternity (we are all sisters and brothers), equality, penance (as a joyful rediscovery of our humanity), incarnation and ‘bonum’ – the good (the value of everything that is). He felt these were picked up in Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment, which itself contains a critique of the economic system and the need to link concern for the environment with action to tackle poverty and inequality.

The meeting brought together around 40 people from dioceses, agencies, religious orders and local justice and peace activists.

The current refugee crisis was of course high on the list of concerns for those present, with information being shared on how dioceses are responding to government plans, and how to channel the goodwill of those offering help. (See www.catholicchurch.org.uk to find your diocesan contact). Alison Gelder of Housing Justice pointed out that there are existing organisations which co-ordinate offers of hospitality for those who are destitute, whether refugees or indigenous homeless people, and urged anyone who could offer accommodation to do so. (In London: Housing Justice www.housingjustice.org.uk; Outside London: No Accommodation Network www.naccom.org.uk). As members of the Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution they will be holding events to bring refugee/migrant and homelessness organisations together and various cities between November and March – email a.gelder@housingjustice.org.uk to find out more.

There was concern that government funding may not be adequate for cash strapped local authorities to deal with the refugees being resettled under the government programme, and the decision to take money from the overseas aid budget was also criticised. NJPN has drafted a letter to send to MPs to raise these concerns (contact admin@justice-and-peace.org.uk for a copy). The slowness and inadequacy of the government’s response to taking in refugees was contrasted with the welcome given the week before to representatives of repressive regimes to the Arms Fair in London, encouraging the sale of arms which fuel the conflicts and repression from which many of the refugees are fleeing.

The meeting heard from the NJPN Environment Working Party of plans to call on all dioceses to draw up environmental policies. There were also opportunities for representatives of dioceses and agencies to share in campaigns and upcoming events.

NJPN Open Networking Day and AGM: 16th May 2015

‘TTIP threatens to undermine democracy in favour of big business’

Around 35 J&P activists from around the country gathered for the AGM and open networking day. Kevin Burr, acting chair of NJPN welcomed everyone to CAFOD’s headquarters in London.

The meeting opened with the CAFOD prayer linked to the Beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

The guest speaker for the day was Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now. He explained clearly and in detail the growing campaign against current trade deals being negotiated worldwide which seek to further enhance free trade through “regulation harmonisation”.

Campaigners for social justice are definitely not anti- trade but unjust structures which create poverty must be challenged. The history of international trade is that of power, privilege and inequality.

The main concern is that the harmonisation of these regulations would mean that standards would go down. So for example TTIP agreement between EU and USA, the EU would be expected to lower agro-business standards to US levels where they wash poultry in chloride, add many more hormones and antibiotics to their cattle and accept GM. Another example is in cosmetic products, while the EU bans over 1100 chemicals because they are considered harmful to humans the USA only band 13 chemicals.

Other areas their campaign is highlighting is important regulations in standards of banking which city firms are trying to stop, the harmonisation of public services, which again would give state governments less power over health and education standards if this were to have a detrimental effect on profits of private service providers, and finally he highlighted increase in powers to Investor state dispute settlement tribunals, where corporations can sue states if they bring in laws which may harm their profits – for example tobacco companies claiming financial compensation against countries that put health warning on cigarettes, or introducing a minimum wage.

Not only are the content of these trade deals a concern in themselves but also how they take place. Negotiations are done through bureaucratic process where international businesses have a lot of influence to promote what is most beneficial for their profits and they are not held up to debate by elected bodies so before the campaign began UK MPs and European MEPs were not aware of the treaties at all. Most of the focus of campaigning is against TTIP the agreement between USA and EU, largely because this agreement is seen as the “gold standard” , the treaty by which

others will be judged, the agreements made with other more unequal partners may be forced into agreeing the same terms. Governments in Poorer countries may then have no choice but to accept agreements which make large profits for international companies to the detriment of their citizens.

An open discussion followed the input, focussing on how these trade agreements affect the common good and possible detrimental effect on God’s creation. Nick felt that there was now a great opportunity to engage with faith groups and those present accepted this challenge.

At the AGM which followed, the election of officers to the executive committee took place, with reports from the treasurer who highlighted the ongoing difficulty in obtaining core funding. facilitators of the working parties.

During an extended lunch break there was opportunity for networking and reading the reports posted around the room, enabling those present to read of the many varied activities undertaken by member groups from around the country.

The afternoon session provided an opportunity for representatives of agencies, religious orders and diocesan groups to share information and resources relating to forthcoming campaigns and events

Please note that the NJPN conference entitled “Things that make for Peace” is to take place at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire from 17th -19th July

Open Networking Day: Cardiff 14 February 2015

Some 35 justice and peace activists arrived to a very warm welcome at St. David’s sixth form in Cardiff for an open meeting to consider how the vision of a ‘Good Society’ might be achieved. A number of the students and staff members ensured that all who attended were well looked after and we thank them for their hospitality.

It was good to see that a number of students took part in the event and were present during the afternoon discussion.

The day began with a short liturgy, placing all our deliberations and frustrations in the hands of the Father who cares for all of creation.

The main speaker for the event was Alison Jackson from Church Action on Poverty whose presentation on a ‘Vision for the Common Good’ was stimulating and informative.

Alison suggested that although politicians on all sides will tell us what is good for us – what will make us happy – this is not a state of being that any of the parties can possibly provide. The government of the day could and should be working to an agenda that provides the wherewithal for all citizens to feel part of society, able to make informed decisions for their own wellbeing.

Poverty means exclusion, Alison stated that if you are poor then you can’t join in, be a part of everything that is going on.

As an alternative to the many party manifestos we will be hearing in the run up to the general election, Alison suggested we might care to consider the ‘Nazareth’ manifesto:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; 17 and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it is written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Lk. 4: 16-19 

Alison spoke of the 2020 Vision, the kind of society we hope for by the end of the next parliament. Quoting from the document she stated that:

The best measure of society is how we treat the poorest and most vulnerable. A good society is one where the richest contribute most to eradicate poverty and improve society as a whole.”

This good society must include the following:

  • Secure livelihoods and dignity for all
  • Fulfilled lives for children and young people
  • Enough homes for all to flourish
  • A moral economy in the service of all
  • A global climate deal that works for us all

We must accept the challenges that this vision presents for each of us as we consider how we use our hard won voting rights effectively.

Alison suggests that we work to change the narrative, we must speak from our own experiences and use the stories we hear to counteract the negative and blame driven attitude of much of the reporting of the so called ‘benefit culture’

So, how do we cast our votes? Alison suggests that we take account of the following statement:

“A good society is a place where we don’t just care about the present but learn from the past and prepare a better place for future generations.”

We become better informed, we read the election literature, the manifestos, comments in the media, we listen to the party election broadcasts

Alison suggested that we challenge our potential political representatives by attending local hustings, asking relevant questions of each candidate, likewise to canvassers on the doorstep.

(Further information at:   www.churcheselection.org.uk )

During the course of the day there were many opportunities to network with justice and peace activists from around the country and get updates from national agencies as well as collecting interesting and informative campaign materials to distribute in our local areas.

During the afternoon session we were given an update on the work of Cardiff Citizens, covering the wide range of issues currently being addressed. These included, listening to and then Identifying local needs, working with faith and non –faith groups, holding political leaders to account and offering training in local leadership skills and thus empowering the local community. Citizens were then more able to participate in the process of community development and engage more effectively with the statutory bodies.

We heard something of the valuable support offered to refugees and asylum seekers in the Cardiff area and the complexities of the system in which the human dignity of the person is seemingly of less importance than the procedure and the regulation. We heard positive reports of the help being provided by many Church communities.

During the day there was plenty of time for networking, to read reports from dioceses, agencies and organisations, to sign petitions and campaign cards as well as sharing of contact details between local groups.

The day ended with a heartfelt thanks to all who had planned and facilitated what was a most informative, encouraging and enjoyable occasion.

 

 

Open Networking Day: London 22 November 2014

The meeting opened with thoughtful prayers and readings.

The first session consisted of a briefing highlighting the concerns of a number of campaigning groups of the negotiations between the EU and USA of a new trade partnership. The transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP)

The aim of the partnership is to increase trade through deregulation by harmonising regulations in the environment, food safety, workers rights and finance and giving corporation’s the right to sue governments over decisions which harm their profits. There is widespread concern that this “boost” for trade may be at great cost to individual workers, threatening labour rights, opening public services to international competition and lowering standards of environmental protection and even countries rights to self determination, so democracy itself. Despite the enormous significance of these reforms very little seems to be known about it by national politicians, as much of the negotiating is being done in secret in Europe. There was an urgent request to become better informed on this issue and contact MPs to take a more active interest in the negotiations to safeguard our rights. More information can be found at www.TTIP.org.uk

The main presentation for the morning session was a very thought provoking talk by Oliver McTernan, director of ‘Forward Thinking’, working world wide in conflict resolution and reconciliation. The title title was “Peace as a fruit of Remembrance” opening with a quotation from Populorum Progressio as a useful focus for consideration, Peace means far more than a precarious truce. Peace is the fruit of anxious daily care to see that everyone lives in the justice as God intends.” (This is Progress: Progression, 76: 2006)

Peace cannot be imposed it needs to take root in a quality of life where each individual can fulfil their human potential. Solutions need to be rooted in justice and inclusive; what is needed is a wide approach to engage with everyone, even the most extreme so everyone is committed and feels heard. As with plants to produce fruit it take time- roots of peace need to develop.

Related to this is the sometimes uncomfortable process of remembrance, which when too narrowly viewed can be seen as glorification of war rather then the remembrance of a tragedy of loss, a sacrifice of lives.

Externally viewed remembrance parades may seem like glorification but tap into the back story. For example a 80 year old man in Islington who came one day a year to church on Remembrance Sunday. He felt he needed to be there to ask for forgiveness for all the young men he had killed. For 60 years this man had carried this burden of conscience that he had deprived other men of their future, their life. Oliver remembered this man’s story and those of others with similar burdens.

Engaging fully in rightful remembrance and the reality of the consequences and the regret of say WW1, a disaster for humanity, not an annual glorification but a remembering of the brutality of war can be a catalyst for peace. If we return to the daily care needed for everyone to live in “the Justice in which God intends” then remembrance is part of this, true remembrance not glorification should stop the cycle of violence and stop war.

The discussion afterwards was raised some of the tension in remembrance between glorification, living with horror, seeking repentance and forgiveness. Highlighting the need to be very sensitive to those caught up in war. In Oliver’s experience these most honest, open and with a deeply held morality about the consequences of their actions are soldiers themselves. He recognises that people do not choose to sacrifice their lives, they are taken, sometimes people may act heroically in a particular situation for comrades but this is not the same. Reflection and healing is needed. Engaging in private reflection of remembrance, for each of us has a memory of conflict not always war but maybe in our family, deal with the scars and the consequences – from these fruits we need to strive for peace.

It was quite poignant at this point, as we approach the end of November, the month of remembrance that Pat Gaffney highlighted that the packs for Peace Sunday where being sent out this week ready 18th January. So we can all consider how best to make Peace a fruit our remembrance.

After a chatty lunch, when we had the chance to met with people and enjoy Maria and…… 50th wedding anniversary cake we had the chance to each say what we had been doing and our concerns.

  • CAFOD reported on changes proposed an highlighted that there was the opportunity to respond to their plans. This year CAFOD will give a grant to NJPN but this may well not continue in future. Save the date of 17th June as big day in London for the Climate change campaign.
  • A paper from Pope Francis is expected on Climate Change next year and NJPN have sent a letter with our comments to contribute to this. A number of issues were discussed

The final session of the day include NJPN reports.

Treasurer’s Report: reminded us of the need to raise revenue to remain viable

Conference 2016: was discussed possible ideas were around the family- rights and responsibilities, democracy and civic society, or climate and the environment.

The Environment Working Party: had met and have some information available on fracking

The future direction of The Ethical Investment Group was discussed, following the retirement of the Convenor.

Web site: Is currently being updated and work on this is ongoing.

There seemed to still be plenty to discuss when the meeting closed at 4pm.

 

Open Networking Day: Reading 20 September 2014

‘Live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor’ a phrase that can slip easily off the tongue but which, after honest reflection, must inevitably both disturb and challenge each one of us to look carefully at the manner in which we relate to the totality of God’s creation.

On Saturday 20 September some thirty five justice and peace activists travelled from many parts of the country to St William’s Church Annexe,in Reading, receiving a warm welcome on arrival.

Accepting the challenge to consider practical ways of putting faith into action individual members of the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN), together with representatives of diocesan groups, peace and social justice organisations as well as members of religious communities met together to explore ways ofliving the Gospel more fully.

The day began with prayer, followed by a formal welcome by Fr. John, the parish priest. He then gave a short overview of a volunteering programme which continues to grow from a small beginning where local charities were invited to be part of a ‘market place’ pointing people to sources of help in times of difficulty.

Following this session, as each person introduced themselves it quickly became very clear what a wealth of commitment to and experience of working for justice and peace was present, the people of God, by their very presence, acclaiming ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’  

There then followed a short, informative presentation of the ongoing Portsmouth diocesan pastoral plan and the placing of issues of justice and peace within this plan.

The main focus of the morning was a presentation by members of the Parish of St John Bosco in Reading: Living the Gospel – on being a Live Simply Parish.

In 2012 St John Bosco’s had become the first parish to achieve the livesimply award, in recognition of the ways in which the parish community had committed to making a difference by living more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the world’s poor, wherever they were to be found. The award came at the end of four years of effort and the speaker emphasised the need to take small manageable steps. Each parish group was invited to contribute ideas thus encouraging whole parish involvement as well as interaction with community groups.

Areas of action included, for example, recycling, waste reduction, composting, fair trade, foodbank collections, shrinking of carbon footprint through such activities as walk to Church Sundays, litter picking and hunger lunches. Energy efficiency was addressed in conjunction with the parish maintenance group, resulting in the installation of solar panels.

At the centre and drawing all activities into a meaningful whole was liturgical celebration.

Whilst working towards achieving the award it was recognised that personal invitations to engage with the project were more productive than by use of posters and newsletters. The team emphasised the value of the livesimply resource pack.

It was also important to realise that achieving the award was not the ultimate goal but an encouragement to continue and increase momentum, providing a range of possibilities for the living out of Gospel values as a worshipping celebrating community.

The extended lunch break provided useful networking time and an opportunity to read reports of justice and peace activities from dioceses, agencies and groups, to browse at the book stall and collect campaigning materials. The issue of trafficking was raised and the work of the Medaille Trust was highlighted as was that of ‘Unchosen’ – which uses film to raise awareness of modern day slavery in the UK and Ireland.

The afternoon session focused on the work of NJPN, its members and partners, giving an overview of the range of issues, campaigns and activities with which members engage.

Information was shared by Pax Christi, The Romero Trust, Jubilee Dept Campaign, 2020 Vision, Christian Ecology link, CAFOD’s new Climate Change Campaign, Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network, Close the Gap as well as information on the UK Gold DVD – ‘Revolving Door’

Maria Malson, on behalf of NJPN executive members facilitated the business section of the afternoon. Evaluations from the annual conference were extremely encouraging, many highlighting the joy of working ecumenically. One point to note is the importance of ensuring our voices are heard during the period leading up to the General Election.

Look out for information on conference 2015, focussing on the ‘Things that make for Peace’

The environment working party continues its good work and would welcome new members. The autumn edition of the newsletter will be available within the next three weeks, a welcome resource well received by its readers, any fresh ideas gratefully received by the media and marketing working party. The NJPN web site is still work in progress but will hopefully be launched in early October.

There was a packed agenda and discussion was wide ranging but major strengths of the day were the networking, information sharing and feeling of solidarity to be found among all who attended.

Thank you to all who facilitated the event and to those who participated.

For more information on the Live Simply parish award: livesimplyaward.org.uk