Welcome to the first Justice & Peace E-bulletin of 2021.
We begin a new year with so many uncertainties and challenges. We are right in the midst of this dreadful pandemic which is changing so much of the way we live our lives. Our parish communities will each have their own stories of those who are suffering in different ways: physical illness, bereavements, loneliness, depression, lost jobs, increased poverty and destitution, and the inability to come together in person as a parish community. It’s a tough time and is likely to continue to be so for months ahead.
And yet there are so many heroic stories too of living out faith in sacrificial service of those who are victims of the pandemic, often by society forgotten, through the food banks, homeless services, and the different groups serving and advocating for the vast numbers of newly poor here on our streets. The Gospel of Justice and Peace has certainly been proclaimed throughout these last months in our communities and on our streets. If we can say there are graces of this dreadful time they are clearly visible in the social action and advocacy work going on around the Diocese. Here Justice and Peace Westminster has worked closely alongside Caritas Westminster marrying advocacy and action and so bringing to life the Church’s social conscience and mission.
While so much of the work of Justice & Peace has rightly focussed on these immediate and pressing needs the Commission, sub-committees and parish groups have addressed other issues of ongoing importance. In the wake of Black Lives Matter we have seen great motivation in addressing issues of racial justice in parishes, in the Church and society. Racial Justice Sunday on January 31st will be an opportunity to focus on this important issue. Similarly, Peace Sunday, celebrated on January 17th, will challenge us to think outside of our domestic borders to be in solidarity with those overseas ravaged by war and conflict and to examine our own complicity there through passive support of weapons manufacture and investment.
In a similar vein Pope Francis’ call to care for creation will continue to be echoed through how we promote environmentally friendly projects and policies and raise awareness of green issues, all leading up to a diocesan group going to COP 26 in November.
As we begin this new year of such uncertainty and challenge may we make a new commitment to allow the Gospel of justice and peace to take root in all our communities and respond to the Holy Father’s call on New Year’s Day when he encouraged all of us to work for a peace “sustained with patient and respectful dialogue” and “constructed with an open collaboration with truth and justice,” so 2021 may be “a year of peace, a year of hope.” It is up to everyone, Pope Francis says to take “by the hand those who need a comforting word, a tender gesture,” he said, and if “we begin to be in peace with ourselves,” it will spread to “those who are near us.”
May the God of Peace be with you and your loved ones at the start of this new year.
Chair, Justice & Peace Commission, Diocese of Westminster
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