03 January 2019, The Tablet

Social justice, slavery, Brexit: Our top ten New Year wishes


 

Prophecies are dangerous but hope springs eternal – in which spirit we wish our readers a very Happy New Year, which would be even happier if at least some of these 10 New Year wishes came true.

Social Justice – The Catholic Church in Britain has yet to respond adequately to Pope Francis’ theological emphasis on the Church being “of and for the poor”. There is a crying need for an authoritative Church statement that pulls no punches in decrying the widespread poverty in modern Britain, and what causes it. “Heeding the voice of the poor” means acknowledging that hundreds of thousands of children arrive at school cold and hungry, with no breakfast and no warm coat, and that this is a disgrace in a country as prosperous as Britain. Homelessness is increasing alarmingly. Fuel poverty costs thousands of lives every winter. These issues will not wait.

Slavery – The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill is soon returning to the House of Commons for its second reading. It aims to rectify a glaring injustice to victims of the slave trade imposed not by slave traders or people traffickers but by the British state. Those released from slave-like conditions in Britain as a result of the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 – Theresa May’s most enlightened achievement in government – nevertheless face a bleak future, with the imminent prospect of destitution as state financial support is quickly withdrawn, or of deportation back to where they were trafficked from, with all the risks attached.

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