Columban Vocation for Justice Newsletter: Build Back Better

by Ellen Teague

The Winter 2020 issue of the Columban Social Justice newsletter 'Vocation for Justice' is now available. It takes the theme of 'Build Back Better', linking into Pope Francis’ mission for us to seize the post-Covid comeback as, “the opportunity to move out from danger.” Columbans are involved in the new Vatican Covid-19 Commission, and the centrespread highlights initiatives working towards a future marked with justice, peace and ecological sustainability.

The coronovirus has exacerbated the symptoms of a broken system. We are experiencing a deep systemic disconnection: an ecological, social and spiritual divide. There’s a discernible disconnect between the infinite growth imperative and the finite resources of planet Earth. Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC writes in her editorial: ” For too long we have left everything in the hands of the market. Not only trade, but also health, education and food. This crisis highlights the unjust ways in which we have organised society and the economy in Britain. In every diocese, poor and vulnerable people have been fed through an emergency relief operation not unlike those in the global south. Catholic charities have stepped up and put faith into action, especially now as so many workers are losing their jobs with the furlough scheme ending. We must now join the clamour for justice.”

Laudato Si’ provides a framework for hearing ‘the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.’ Pope Francis’ phrase in Laudato Si’, that ‘Integral Ecology’ embraces connected spheres – ecology, care for the poor, economics, lifestyle, politics and lifestyle – is very relevant at this time. There is an integral connection between Justice, Peace and Care for Earth. Because climate change amplifies all forms of injustice – hunger, refugees, racism, poverty, inequality, war – defence of creation is a campaign for justice. By reorienting what we prize through new approaches to spirituality, lifestyle, worship, preaching, education and advocacy we can honour creation as we cultivate hope and discover new joy.

Columban Eco-theologian Sean McDonagh draws attention to the “sinful” destruction of biodiversity, while Fr Pat Cunningham in Korea reports on the struggle for peace and biodiversity on the country’s Jeju Island amidst increasing militarism. He is a keen promoter of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. There is information about ‘Jubilee for the Earth’, a podcast mini-series about biodiversity, produced by the Columbans for the Season of Creation. Six episodes explore biodiversity and a related issue like economic justice, peace, migration, and other topics related to Catholic Social Teaching.

In the issue, James Trewby, the Columban Education Worker, reports on preparations for the Columbans next media competition for young people, ‘Let’s create a World without Racism,’ which launches on 5 October. Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, reports on why we should be paying more attention to the proposed new U.S./UK Trade Deal.

‘Vocation for Justice’ is a 12-page magazine sent out three times a year since 1986 to around 7,000 readers. The Columban editorial team comprises Fr Peter Hughes (JPIC Co-ordinator), Ellen Teague (Media), James Trewby (Education), Fr Daniel O’Malley and David Madden.

To request the Vocation for Justice magazine please email: v4j@columbans.co.uk or call 01564 772096. You will receive three issues per year. A voluntary subscription of £15 is requested annually in February.