Justice and Peace

The Gospel Mission

The Sermon on the Mount is widely regarded as the mission statement for the model Christian.
In Mathew's gospel (Chapter 5) the nine beatitudes are listed. Seven of these describe inner qualities to be sought by the would-be Christian.

Remarkably only two of the nine beatitudes ask us to do something we are urged to be peacemakers and told, Happy are those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.

People engaged in justice and peace issues are peacemakers, hungering and thirsting for what is right.

Why Justice and Peace (J&P)?

These two words occur very often in our liturgy. In the Mass peace is very often a theme in the prayers or the scripture readings. For example, the collect for the third Sunday of ordinary time year C reads,

All powerful and ever-living God
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.

The prayer urges us to work for peace. Similarly justice is a common scriptural theme, particularly in the psalms. So how do these two words tie together? We all know from our own experience of life that peace without justice is no peace at all. Peace , without justice is repression of the weak by the strong. Or in economic terms domination of the poor by the rich. Over time physical repression or economic domination inevitably lead to conflict. All the world s trouble spots have at their root the perception of a lack of justice by one side or the other. Those who campaign for justice are campaigning for peace. Those who champion peace are seeking justice. Justice and peace are two sides of the same coin. A popular J&P saying is, If you want peace, work for justice.

Why are so few Catholics engaged in J&P issues?

Generally speaking J&P activity is concerned with both prayer and some form of further action. While many are willing to pray for particular causes few of us feel comfortable about taking action especially in public. We may be happy to write to our MP, but not to demonstrate outside his office. Sometimes we are put off because J&P is concerned with Politics. Unfortunately this is so. In our democracy the only way to get things changed for the better is through political activity. This fact puts some people off. J&P activities often involve campaigns for long term objectives, peace in the Middle East for example. A person could spend a life time campaigning for this and see no ostensible return. Do you do any good? , is a retort often heard by J&P activists. This puts people off. Often parishes have CAFOD or Developing World groups where the emphasis is on fund raising and the goals are tangible. All of us look to the clergy for a spiritual lead on most matters. For a host of reasons many of our priests are unable to take part in J&P activities. For this reason J&P is mainly a lay activity. Some Catholics are comfortable with this - many are not. Interestingly some of the religious orders positively embrace J&P issues. The Jesuits (Faith & Justice) and the Columbans (JPIC - Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation) are totally committed.

J&P at Portico

What do we do?

We are not a fund-raising group.
We have two functions: the first is to draw the attention of our fellow parishioners to injustices causing unrest, locally, nationally or internationally and secondly, where appropriate to play our part working for justice and peace in these areas. Inevitably the causes we adopt reflect the concerns of individuals in the group. So over the years we have supported:

We also hold a monthly prayer meeting for particular causes.

Is there a network for J&P activists?

Yes there is. Below are listed several sites that are useful for the work of J&P groups.
The Liverpool Archdiocese has its own J&P field worker and the work of the J&P Commission can be followed at www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk (Follow the link through, Commissions.) The national body which acts as an umbrella for all J&P activity in the country is the National J&P Network (NJPN). Every year they hold a national conference which is well worth attending. They can be reached at justice-and-peace.org.uk Other sites of interest include Pax Christi ; Action by Christians against Torture ; Catholic Fund for Overseas Development and Progressio.

Are you interested?

Check the newsletter for our monthly meeting (first Thursday), and come along!

J&P Group