Visit the Laudato Si’ Action Platform!
For families, parishes, dioceses, educational institutions, healthcare institutions, organisations, communities, communication centres, NGOs, businesses, farms & religious
WESTMINSTER SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PEACE FORUM
THE CATHOLIC VISION OF WORK
22ND MAY 2021
Introductory Remarks from Bishop Nicholas Hudson:
It’s my privilege and pleasure to welcome you all to this Social Justice & Peace Forum, in which we’re going to be exploring ‘The Catholic Vision of Work’. It’s a very logical follow-on from the last Forum, in which we asked what the pandemic was teaching us about the call to Justice & Peace.
That question seems more urgent than ever as society gets back to work; because the pandemic has opened our eyes to see the sheer scale of poverty and inequality in the United Kingdom; just how many are falling through the social safety net; how the poor are getting poorer – especially those who have no work. Society is waking up to the fact that it’s going to get worse, not better: inflation is already upon us, unemployment and homelessness are bound to increase. The Catholic vision of unemployment is unequivocal: unemployment is a “real social disaster”. Resort to a gig economy, with zero-hours contracts, is leaving increasing numbers of families still with too little income to put food on the table.
Into this reality the Catholic Vision of Work needs to speak ever more urgently.
The right to a just wage and the right to rest are central to it – as is the right, as Pope St John Paul II put it in ‘Laborem Exercens’, “the right to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers’ physical health or to their moral integrity.” Of course, Catholic Social teaching doesn’t mention working from home as such: we’ve only now woken up to all the issues around that – because the pandemic forced us to.
But human flourishing has long been at the heart of a Catholic Vision of Work; and work environments which foster human flourishing after the pandemic are surely going to be part of our discussion today.
As is the impact on the environment itself. It was St Irenaeus who said, in the early Middle Ages, “By his work … man (man and woman) … makes (make) creation more beautiful.” By their work, man and woman make creation more beautiful. That’s a statement which speaks even more deeply to us now, I think, than it did even 14 months ago – because we’ve become sensitised, through reflection, observation and discussion, to the impact on creation of all our different ways of working.
How the air and our children’s lungs were spared by our not driving cars into work or flying across continents for meetings was brought home to us by the bright, bright blue skies of April and May last year!
“Just look at that sky!” I remember one homeless man telling another in Leicester Square.
The vital impact on family life of the way we work has become all the more apparent too: we see all the more clearly the prophetic wisdom of the Holy See’s Charter on the Rights of the Family, when it said, “Travelling great distances to the workplace, working two jobs, physical and psychological fatigue all reduce the time devoted to the family.”
“Life to the full” was Jesus’s message and hope. But what are we going see as the net outcome of this pandemic? Life fuller or life reduced? Some re-skilled, others de-skilled; some with priorities reordered towards a better quality of life, others left with the sense of a life diminished. If some do emerge stronger for work, others will find the decline of their physical and mental health, the stress of strained relationships at home, months of isolation leaves them frighteningly incapable. Loneliness, economic uncertainty, changed work-conditions will all have taken their toll.
All of this goes to make up the altered geography and landscape we find ourselves inhabiting as the world returns to work – or doesn’t! And I’m looking forward to each of us helping the other to deepen our perspective on it for a few hours today.
Sign up here to receive the monthly E-Bulletin from Westminster Justice & Peace and occasional news of other events or urgent actions:
WESTMINSTER SOCIAL JUSTICE & PEACE FORUM
Report from 5th December 2020: Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum – Learning from the Pandemic
By Ellen Teague – Full Report on Independent Catholic News
What is the pandemic teaching us about the call to Justice and Peace? That was the question posed by Bishop Nicholas Hudson last Saturday at the start of an online meeting of the Westminster Justice and Peace Forum on the theme ‘Learning from the Pandemic’. Bishop Paul McAleenan was on the zoom too, along with around 60 clergy, religious and laity.
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, based at Farm Street church and the Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, led us through the morning event, helping us “to look back at what we have been learning and look at what we can do to rebuild…”
Please visit the Caritas Westminster
for Urgent Needs around the Diocese
For the latest updates on Justice and Peace in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster please visit our News pages or follow us on social media.
Sign up by clicking on the links to Facebook and Twitter below!
Sign up here to receive the monthly E-Bulletin from Westminster Justice & Peace and occasional news of other events or urgent actions.
God bless you.