NJPN AGM May 2014

Call to be a ‘Church of the Poor’

The National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) underlined its mission to foster social justice, based on the Church’s Social Teaching, at its AGM on Saturday at CAFOD’s offices in South London. A talk by David McLaughlin, Senior lecturer in Theology at Newman University, titled “Our Response to Pope Francis’ call to be ‘a Church for the poor’”, and based on the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, was enthusiastically received. He stressed that, “private charity can never be enough; the poor also need justice”.

During the discussion following that talk, Julian Filochowski, Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, called the papal document, “the most exciting thing to happen to the Church since Vatican II”. The meeting was uplifted by the steady encouragement of Pope Francis to undertake work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

McLaughlin pointed to the Virtual Plater website as an excellent resource for exploring the Church’s Social Teaching. And from there links can be made to other places, such as the Catholic Social Teaching website, which is a livesimply initiative. It picks up on the themes of Human Dignity, Community & Participation, Care for Creation, Dignity at Work, Peace & Recoinciliation and Solidarity & Subsidiarity.

Anne Peacey of Hallam Diocese stepped down as NJPN Chair at the meeting after nine years and she was warmly applauded for her service. And there was a sharing by around 20 diocesan representatives and another 20 representatives of religious orders and Catholic agencies who were present covering work in the areas of justice, peace and care for creation.

Alison Gelder of Housing Justice invited support for a series of Housing Justice Roadshows, taking place in May and June in Liverpool, Birmingham and Rayleigh. They will demonstrate how churches can engage with the housing crisis.

Pat Gaffney, Director of Pax Christi, announced an event this week to commemorate the WW1 centenary and commiting to future peacemaking. On 15 May, descendants of 50 First World War conscientious objectors will take part in this year’s International Conscientious Objectors’ Day commemoration in Tavistock Square, London at 12 noon. All are welcome to join them.

Patricia and Michael Pulham of Christian CND spoke about the ‘No Faith in Trident’ lobby of parliament on 11 June. They also shared its new resource ‘Nuclear Weapons: What can Christians do?’ which groups are encouraged to discuss as dialogue continues about the renewal of Trident, which is Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

Maria Elena Arana of CAFOD Campaigns outlined plans for CAFOD’s new Climate Change and Sustainable Energy campaign, which will be launched in September. CAFOD will be highlighting how climate change is linked to severe weather and humanitarian disasters and says “it will be crucial to campaign on this important issue in the run up to the General Election in May 2015. She also reminded about the Live Simply Parish Award which encourages parishes to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor, reporting that 11 parishes have achieved the award over recent years.

The NJPN Environment Working Group, chaired by Ashley Ralston of Arundel and Brighton Diocese, announced Christian Ecology Link’s ‘Joy in Enough’ project and Operation Noah’s ‘Fossil Free Churches’ work. The group is also pushing Creation Time, which runs from 1 September – 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi. Columban JPIC urged everyone to view and use the new DVD resource and booklet ‘Conflict and Climate Change’ which is suitable for adult groups and older schools’ groups. One of the speakers on the DVD, Mary Colwell, is to be a speaker at this year’s NJPN conference in Derbyshire 18-20 July, where the theme is ‘Called to life in all its fullness: accepting the implications of our baptism’. More than 300 people are expected to attend.

For more information see:

See also: ICN 13 May 2014 –
David McLoughlin: A Response to Pope’s call to be a Church for the Poor