20 February 2024, The Tablet

Poverty and injustice addressed in new campaign

Poverty and injustice addressed in new campaign

Raymond Friel addresses the launch of Do Justice.

A call for a “prophetic voice” to build a better society was heard at a new campaign dedicated to addressing poverty and injustice in England and Wales.

Launched by the Caritas Social Action Network, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the “Do Justice” launch event was held at the Jesuit Mission Centre in Farm St, London with presentations from chief executive Raymond Friel, Jenny Sinclair of Together for the Common Good and Sir John Battle, Csan trustee. 

Around 70 people present – largely from Catholic social justice organisations were Anne Peacey and Sharon Chambers of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales, Christine Allen of Cafod, Elizabeth Palmer of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Fr Dominic Robinson and Colette Joyce of Westminster Justice and Peace as well as members of Caritas Westminster and the Medaille Trust.

Ms Allen said afterwards that it was “brilliant to see fresh impetus behind campaigns for Catholics to be involved in social justice”.

Mr Friel spoke about “a vision for spiritual and civic renewal in England and Wales” and “a call to raise a prophetic voice and build a better society”.  He added, “We’re encouraging Catholic parishes and schools, individuals and communities to take meaningful action in response to the urgent needs within their communities.” Downloadable resources include documents, workbooks and guides.

Jenny Sinclair explored a practical vision for the mission of the local church, using the “see, judge, act” approach. She said the Catholic Social Teaching framework calls proplr to look at what is happening to human beings, to families, communities, relationships and to God’s creation. “We see a system generating pockets of intense wealth but also poverty and civic degradation on a vast scale,” she said. “We see five million of our fellow citizens on out of work benefits and fourteen million living in poverty.” She warned of commodification and monetisation of land, water, homes, human beings.

And she called for a “focus on system reform, not just on mitigating the effects of its dysfunction”. Urging a deeper focus on Justice, she said Christians must argue for essential needs to be met. “But if we don’t frame that within a bigger story of system failure, we can inadvertently become enablers of an unjust system, even repress prophetic justice.” 


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