This month’s Westminster Justice & Peace E-Bulletin is now available for download, packed with the usual assortment of Diary Dates: events, talks, webinars, meetings and actions across a whole range of concerns from helping the homeless into dignified work with Caritas, to Synodal explorations on the role of women in the Church with the National Board of Catholic Women, to supporting the international development work of CAFOD. We hope there is something for everyone.
Peace, hope and happiness this Feast of the Presentation.
Looking ahead to 2023, the E-Bulletin contains an update on the on-going Synodal Pathway. There are a smaller than usual number of Diary Dates – to begin the year at a gentle pace. No doubt many more will be added in the months to come!
Peace Sunday on 15th January is the next key event promoted by the Justice and Peace Commission. As we draw closer to the one year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia (24 February 2022), we invite you to give particular consideration to this year’s Message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace and to look up the work and resources of Pax Christi in preparation for Masses on this weekend. We remember, too, that there are still many other parts of the world experiencing conflict and strife that are not in the headlines and we keep them in our prayers.
“For the peace of Jerusalem pray!” (Psalm 122, 6). That was the phrase that resonated most deeply within me as we sought as a group of bishops to fathom Jerusalem’s religious vocation. We had gathered from diverse nations to make up this year’s Holy Land Coordination.
That Jerusalem is a Jewish city, a Christian city, a Muslim city: that was the deepest truth we took away from our visit to this city, which is so sacred to all three faiths. We also took away the conviction that the Christian community in Jerusalem has a particular calling to articulate this conviction. Not only is the Christian community an essential part of Jerusalem’s identity. It also has a peculiar freedom to speak the truth of Jerusalem’s multiple identity.
Meanwhile the Holy Land Coordination feels duty bound to warn that the Christian community’s continued presence there is threatened by occupation and injustice. Many of those we encountered are facing violence and intimidation by settler groups, restrictions on their freedom of movement, or separation from their families because of the status they are assigned.
Issues of occupation, status, diverse cultures and faiths being forced to live alongside one another – every one of these modern realities was, of course, central to the Jerusalem into which walked the Holy Family two millennia ago. The Massacre of the Innocents, of “Rachel weeping for her children” (Jeremiah 31, 15), were made all the more real for us as we witnessed the pain being experienced by the family of Palestinian Catholic journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She had been gunned down as she went about her work as a journalist reporting on the inequities she observed in Israeli society – only for her mourners to be fired upon as they laid her body to rest.
“I came into the world for this,” Jesus told Pilate, “to witness to the truth” (John 18). Because he witnessed to the truth, his life was taken from him. The life was taken from Shireen because she too witnessed to the truth.
Visiting Jerusalem at the time of her mourning brought home to us with greater force than ever the truth that Christians worldwide share a dual vocation with regard to Jerusalem: to denounce the persecution of the continuing Christian community there but, at the same time, call that community to have the courage to declare more loudly than ever that this sacred place is not only Christian but also Jewish and Muslim. For that is surely the only way to “the peace of Jerusalem”.
In person events are back! And we have three coming up all on the same day which provide opportunities for formation and action across a range of issues that are currently at the forefront of our minds. Perhaps one or other of them will be of particular interest to you, your friends, family or other parishioners? Please pray for all the organisers who are working hard to enable the Catholic community to respond to the biggest concerns of our day .
12th November, 10.30am-5.00pm Firm Foundations in a Cost-of-Living Crisis With Caritas Westminster All Saints College, 75 St Charles Square, W10 6EL Includes workshops. Light lunch provided. Register with Eventbrite
12th November, 11am-4pm National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Open Networking Day ‘ABetter Kind of Politics’ Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7JB. Facilitated by the Quaker Truth and Integrity Group. Free. More details on NJPN Website
As usual, our E-Bulletin provides many ways to get involved with the responses of our Catholic community and others. We invite you, in particular in the coming weeks, to pray for the government, business and community leaders gathering in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the UN Climate Conference, COP27, 6th-18th November 2022. Twenty-six previous such meetings have yet to result in any overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions but the urgency is growing with each year that passes and so we can and must keep the pressure on to demand tangible results this time. Visit our COP27 webpage to find out more and how to get involved.
I hope you have enjoyed celebrating nature this month, even as we become ever more aware of the efforts we must make to protect our common home. There is still the Feast of St Francis to come on Tuesday, 4th October, to close the season, as we seek his intercession and inspiration in our care for the environment for rest of the year.
Our E-Bulletin this month contains a report from our most recent Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum on Saturday, 17th September, when people from around the Diocese joined Bishop Nicholas Hudson and Bishop Paul McAleenan on Zoom. The theme of the Forum was ‘To Accompany Refugees’, and it took place on the weekend preceding the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (25th September). The Forum was chaired by Bishop Nicholas Hudson, who underlined that this was an opportunity to explore what the response in the ecclesial community in Westminster has been… Read the full report on our website
Welcome to New Commission Member
Fr Dominic writes:
A warm welcome to Sr Carolyn Morrison ra, University Chaplain based at Newman House, to the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission. We look forward to benefiting from Sr Carolyn’s skills and experience. We hope to recruit more new members to the Commission in due course.
The current Commission members are: Fr Dominic Robinson SJ (Chair), Colette Joyce (Co-ordinator), Tony Sheen (CAFOD), John Coleby (Caritas), Sr Carolyn Morrison ra
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to serve as a Parish Contact for Justice & Peace in 2023. The current list can be found here:
Finally, in this month which includes Homeless Sunday and Challenge Poverty Week, we continue to consider how best we might help our communities rise to meet the current cost-of-living challenges. There are many links and events in the Diary pages to inform our response, including a one-day Conference with Caritas Westminster on 12th November at All Saints Catholic College, 75 Saint Charles Square, London, W10 6EL, which will bring together a number of different organisations offering assistance, with people from schools, parishes and projects across the Diocese.
The new term has seen a plethora of events dropping into my inbox so there are THREE pages of Diary Dates this month. No-one can do it all, but I hope you will find one or two things of particular interest to you among this myriad of ideas for putting our faith into practice.
Two highlights for us are:
The Season of Creation, 1st September – 4th October
This year’s theme is “Listen to the Voice of Creation.” As the Psalmist declares:
“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge…their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the Earth and their words to the end of the world.” (Psalm 19: 1-4)
Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum ‘To Accompany Refugees’, 17th September, 10am-1pm.
Join Bishops Nicholas Hudson and Paul McAleenan along with guest speakers including Megan Knowles (Jesuit Refugee Service) and Teresa Clarke (St Alban’s Hostel Visiting Group), for sharing and discussion of our response to the worldwide movement of peoples.
We are reflecting on the theme of summer holidays for this month’s E-Bulletin.
Every year the first weekend of the school summer holidays, 22nd-24th July, witnesses the annual National Justice and Peace Network conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, at the beautiful The Hayes Conference Centre. Fr Dominic and Colette will be attending and would love to see you there. It is always a great event with speakers, workshops, prayer, music, social time and networking to refresh and re-inspire your enthusiasm for peace and justice in our complicated world. Everybody is welcome and there are special programmes for children and teenagers, so the whole family can come along.
If you are the festival-going type, you might like to consider Greenbelt, the ecumenical Christian festival at Boughton House, near Kettering, 26th-29th August, the bank holiday weekend. Colette is a regular attendee and happy to tell you all about it if you give her a call!
“It’s a record that should never have been set,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes”.
This month in the UK we mark Refugee Week from 20-26 June 2022 and the E-Bulletin Diary Dates highlights a number of events, especially from London Churches (of all denominations), as a means of engaging with the needs arising.
At the request of Bishops Paul McAleenan and Nicholas Hudson, our next Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum will continue to support these efforts with a coming together to explore our Catholic response to migration, alongside all other sectors of society. This will be our first in-person Forum since the pandemic and we warmly invite you to join us at St Aloysius Church Hall, Euston, on Saturday 17th September, 10am-1pm, whether you are already involved in accompanying refugees, have personal experience of migration or are newly concerned and wanting to do more.
There are many other events to explore, including a day out at Kew Gardens with CAFOD, Caritas and Justice & Peace during the summer holidays on 9th August and, of course, the NJPN national annual gathering at Swanwick 22nd-24th July.
We wish you all an enjoyable few days over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
This report has been submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to contribute to a national report finalised in June and sent to the Synod Office in the Vatican in July. The reports from this global exercise will then form the basis of preparatory documents for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.
The Bishops of Westminster Diocese wish to express their deep gratitude to all who have contributed to this Synodal Process.
There are many other events and activities advertised in the E-Bulletin.
The Westminster Justice and Peace Commission posts on average three or four news stories or details of upcoming events a week. Maggie Beirne’s article on ‘Pacifism in the face of aggression – the Christian response?’ is recommended reading this month!
There are two significant anniversaries on the horizon for which we are hoping to organise events but have not yet finalised the details. Do please make a note in your diaries and keep an eye out for more information in the May E-Bulletin:
Tuesday 24th May: Laudato Si’ – Seventh anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical On The Care of Our Common Home (2015). Study sessions for morning, afternoon and evening. Times and venue tbc.
Wednesday 25th May:Second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, United States (2020). We hope to organise a daytime seminar to reflect on conversations and actions for racial justice that have been taking place in the Diocese and UK since then and further discussion of our plans and intentions for the future. Times and venue tbc.
We would love to hear from you if you are interested in taking part on either of these dates or to let us know what is happening in your parishes and schools around the care of creation and racial justice at this time.