THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY
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THE GREEN ENCYCLICAL The Popeâ€™s call for an ecological conversion
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THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY
www.justicemagazine.org Summer 2015
magazine Editorial Justice Magazine is a quarterly publication that reports on and aims to further interest in the Catholic Church’s social teaching. It takes as its guide the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We would love to hear from you with your feedback, ideas for future editions or your own contributed articles.
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Ways to help mums thrive
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Front page photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
IN THIS ISSUE 04 News round-up 08 Christians under fire 14 ‘We’re closely bound up with those in detention’ 16 An altogether different kind of Toy Story 20 A beacon of hope in the darkness 22 How do you solve a problem like climate change? 25 The green encyclical has arrived 28 Giving a voice to the crew 32 See a need and act on it 36 Is there justice in the welfare system? 38 Lobbying for the environment 42 British democracy: Unfit for purpose? 44 Ways to help mums thrive 48 The power of giving something back 50 Tears for Charleston’s dead, but a vow to carry on JUSTICE MAGAZINE 03
News round-up Almost 2 million children forced to abandon school Sana’a, Yemen: Continuing warfare in Yemen has led to many serious consequences, including the fact that some 2 million children have been forced to abandon school. So far 3,600 schools have been closed, and pupils and families have been moved to safer places. Among the schools closed, 248 were razed to the ground, another 270 used as shelters for displaced persons and the remaining 68 occupied by armed troops. UNICEF said the impact of the situation on schools had been devastating. At the moment, the United Nations organisation is working to provide scholastic support for more than 2,000 children, supplying exercise books, pencils and school bags. For its part, Yemen’s education ministry is trying to mobilise the necessary teachers and organise temporary premises, such as tents, to serve as classrooms. The next school year is due to start on September 5 but schooling will be determined by the security conditions in the country. Before the present conﬂict, the rate of school attendance in Yemen was 79 per cent, despite 2 million children being denied schooling because of poverty and discrimination and an extremely poor quality of education. Jesuits provide assistance for women refugees who are victims of violence and human trafficking Bangkok, Thailand: Female refugees from Asian and African countries such as Pakistan and Somalia are suﬀering on reaching Bangkok, the Thai capital, where they have experienced sexual abuse and systematic oppression. They are forced to ﬂee, pay smugglers, and are robbed of their few belongings. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre in Bangkok is running a speciﬁc service of psychological and material assistance for female refugees. The project provides support and counselling for unaccompanied Somali and Pakistani women and girls. “Refugee women are extremely vulnerable and most suﬀer sexual abuse,” said Jennifer Martin, JRS psycho-social counsellor. “We try to make them feel less alone. “After such a terrifying experience we oﬀer them the chance to talk through the trauma. This helps to build a sense 04 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Yemeni children are missing out on school Photo: Rod Waddington of solidarity and sharing. The shock of being in a diﬀerent culture can be overwhelming and a cause of tension, especially among older women. “Moreover, women and girls face the challenge of ﬁnding a way to make a living; for the country of arrival they are illegal immigrants.” The JRS aims to build a long-term protective factor, unity among the women and an awareness that being exploited by human trafficking criminals is a shared experience. Juridical difficulties are hard to solve and it is not easy for the girls and women involved to adapt to the new environment says JRS, but gradually socialisation and human relations can restore dignity and conﬁdence. Every year a thousand Christian and Hindu girls suﬀer forced conversion to Islam and abuse Karachi, Pakistan: At least a thousand girls from Christian and Hindu communities are forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men each year, a new
report by the NGO Aurat Foundation in Karachi has revealed. Mahnaz Rehman, the directress of the foundation, said there was a difficult situation for women in Pakistan, speciﬁcally with regard to discrimination on a religious basis. The crime of forced conversion and marriage is common but receives little attention on the part of the local police or civil authorities, she said. The girls and the families receive threats and pressure. The practice is constant, Aurat Foundation affirms, with girls, often minors, forced to marry their abductor or another man without their consent. If the family lodges a complaint, the abductor makes a counter complaint, accusing the family and stating that the girl converted of her own free will. When called to testify in court, the girl, under unspeakable threats and pressure, declares that her conversion and consent to marriage was voluntary with the case then closed. “These cases are never investigated seriously to shed light on the phenom-
which work together with Association of Friends for Central Africa: Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres, Holy Family, Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit, Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Comboni Missionary Sisters, Providence of Rouen. The college, the only teacher training institute in the country, trains teachers for the whole of CAR. The Association of Friends for Central Africa was formed in 2001 on the basis of the experience of volunteers in the Republic of Central Africa at the Catholic Mission of Zomea run by Comboni Sisters. So far the association has helped open 15 schools, two dispensaries, two healthcare centres, a centre for rehabilitation of persons with a disability and a dental centre. School instruction during emergency situations a basic humanitarian necessity
enon and mechanism of the crime,” the report states. “From the time in which the complaint is ﬁled and the controversy begins up to the time of the hearing in court, the girls are held in custody by the abductors and suﬀer all kinds of abuse and violence.” One manner of pressure on the vulnerable adolescents is to convince them that they have become “Muslims” and that if they change their religion they would be apostates, for which the punishment is death. The report urged police and civil authorities to unmask the practice and rescue the girls who are members of religious minority groups. Franciscan Sister murdered Guaratinguetá, Brazil: Sister Irma Odete Francisca, 65, a member of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of Siessen, was murdered on July 24 at La Estrella Drug Rehabilitation Centre run by the Fazenda da Esperança, in the town of Guaratinguetá, Sao Paulo.
The Pontiﬁcal Mission Societies in Brazil said the sister was attacked by a man attempting a burglary and died of eight knife wounds to her back. According to police, the thief, who was barefooted with his face covered, entered the convent by force and ordered the sisters to give him money. La Estrella Centre in Guaratinguetá houses about 350 people addicted to drugs who are undergoing rehabilitation treatment. Training to counter unemployment: 29 teachers receive diploma Bangui, Central African Republic: Despite a situation of war, 29 students at the Jean Paul II Teachers Training College in Bangui recently received their diploma and will soon start work in schools in CAR where teaching staﬀ is insufficient and classes overcrowded. The college opened in 2011, thanks to the joint activity of the Association of Friends for Central Africa, the Association Espérance pour la Formation en Centrafrique and religious congregations
Juba, South Sudan: School instruction for girls is particularly difficult in South Sudan where early pregnancies or marriage, poverty and gender discrimination prevent many girls from regular attendance at school. Fighting in the country since 2013 worsened the situation. Official ﬁgures suggest there are more than two million internally displaced persons or refugees in bordering countries, besides 13,000 boys recruited by armed groups and 200,000 who never go to school. Before the crisis, about 57 per cent of minors in South Sudan did not attend school. Among initiatives to tackle the situation, a Spanish-backed Plan International project called “The Right to Choose” aims to improve the life and the future of 20,000 children mainly in the regions of Juba, Lainya and Yei in Central Equatoria, one of South Sudan’s ten governorships. The project, launched in 2012 to increase the number of children attending school and reduce cases of forced marriages and pregnancies among adolescents, also aims to help boys and girls understand their rights and learn to defend them. A second aim is to change social behaviour which prevents school progress, helping parents improve their knowledge and help their children. “The Right to Choose” project helps girls who have been forced into early marriage to return to school and continue their studies. >>>06 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 05
News round-up Parishes shelter demonstrators demanding solutions to mining question Potosì, Bolivia: Clashes between the Bolivian government and trade union groups in Potosì demanding safety and security for mine workers in the area have continued for more than two weeks with no agreement in sight. The most recent ﬁghting between police forces and demonstrators left a number of people injured and many arrested. “You know that the Church is the people and the people are the Church, and this is why we are opening our parishes and oﬀering shelter to groups of demonstrators to urge the government to engage in serious dialogue as soon as possible,” said Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, of the diocese of Potosì. Bishop Centellas announced that nine parishes would open their doors to provide shelter for the families of those calling for government intervention to reach a solution to the mining problem and obtain the release of people detained for demonstrating and demanding justice. The bishop said it was “totally unacceptable” that the problem had gone on for so long without a settlement. Tension is high and appears to be spreading to the capital La Paz where many diﬀerent social groups are calling for government intervention to meet the demands of the miners in Potosì which has been an ongoing problem for years that has not been addressed. Working at prevention can put an end to violence, says Dominican Republic bishop Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Dominican Republic, Bishop Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez, has launched a proposal focusing on prevention to address the increasing state of criminality and violence in the area. The bishop, who heads the diocese of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey, said authorities had already worked on the issue but that they only act after incidents have occurred. The bishop also said that when there was prevention on the part of government authorities, with concrete involvement of the police and army, criminality found less space in which to act. “If we succeed in articulating programmes and activities for the formation 06 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
A mine in Potosì Photo: Marcos of our young people in schools, youth groups, in the families and in civil society in general, we can prevent this social scourge,” the bishop said. The bishop joins other voices in Dominican society calling for intervention by the authorities to halt spiralling violence and criminality in the Dominican Republic, activity which involves mainly young people. Blasphemy laws undermine the rule of law Yangon, Myanmar/Burma: Anti-blasphemy laws and legal actions are undermining the rule of law in Myanmar, protestors have claimed. The laws, stated in the country’s criminal code, “are contrary to human rights including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of equality in front of the law without discrimination,” according to activists of various diﬀerent NGOs. Furthermore norms are applied in a selective manner. Burma’s blasphemy law, issued under colonial rule in 1927 to reduce intercommunity tension, is the same which exists in India and Pakistan (where it was later altered in 1986). The law affirms “any deliberate and criminally motivated intention to oﬀend a person’s religious sentiments is punishable with imprisonment and a ﬁne”. However, in recent cases guilty sentences have been issued by courts without the proof of deliberate intention: Individuals have been severely punished for actions seen to be “contrary to conservative interpretations of a religion”. In 2015 in Myanmar, Philip Blackwood and his colleagues Tun Thurein and Htut Ko Ko Lwin, were given two-anda-half years of prison with forced labour
for putting on Facebook a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing earphones, in order to advertise a coﬀee bar. Htin Linn Oo, a Buddhist writer and a member of the National Pro-Democracy League, was jailed for two years with forced labour for oﬀending certain groups of Buddhists. He doubted the authenticity of the creed of people using Buddhism to incite violence. These measures say human rights activists including Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, “violate international law and certain human rights recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Constitution del Myanmar, which guarantees freedom of expression and conscience and freedom to profess and practice a religion”. Trafficking of people is a “ﬂourishing business on the increase” Madrid, Spain: New ﬁgures have suggested that people trafficking moves between 7,000 and 10,000 million US dollars a year with some two million children forced into prostitution for the global sex trade In addition, 20.9 million people are trapped in forced labour. The ﬁgures are part of a report about the activity of SJM Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (Jesuit Migrants Service) in Spain, prepared by the Istituto Universitario delle Migrazioni di Comillas ahead of the World Day against Human Trafficking which was marked on July 30. Human trafficking is becoming a “ﬂourishing trade which continues to expand in the new global economy,” the SJM report states, According to the United Nations, human trafficking involves at least four million people every year for an estimated economic value between 7,000 and 10,000 million US dollars. Although the form of trafficking most frequently revealed is sexual exploitation (79 per cent), two other forms of exploitation exist: Exploitation of workers and human organ trade. According to the World Migrant Organization, an estimated 500,000 women, mainly from developing countries, arrive in western Europe each year often lured by false promises of employment in a rich country and are sexually exploited. The second most frequently discovered form is worker exploitation. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), some 20.9 million
workers are exploited across the sectors of construction, agriculture, textile industry, domestic work, in transport companies and in organised begging. This form of trafficking is a violation of workers’ rights, since the victims are forced to work in inhuman conditions: prolonged hours, low or non-existent wage, work places which fail to respect the minimum rules of hygiene and security, situations of servitude for debt. The study concludes that reported cases in the labour ﬁeld continue to be few, whereas sexual exploitation of women is still the most frequently reported and is therefore the most documented form of human trafficking. Ebola still not under control some 16 months since the epidemic outbreak Conakry, Guinea: New cases of Ebola reported in Liberia and Guinea are spreading fear that the virus could cross the border into Guinea-Bissau. A warning has been issued by the international chairman of Doctors Without Frontiers (MSF). The most serious ever epidemic of the virus, started more than 16 months ago in March 2014 and despite progress in action to stem the infection, the virus is still present in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with reportedly 27,678 persons infected and 11,276 deaths. In Guinea, the virus’ transmission chain is still active in Conakry, Boké and Forecariah. In the past eight weeks, the number of new cases in the entire region has remained stable at 30 a month. In Conakry, work continues throughout the city to spread awareness and to counter non-veriﬁed information, fear and exhaustion among the people. MSF is working in a new centre at Nongo, where patients are able to receive plasma donated by persons who have recovered from Ebola. To meet a recent Ebola outbreak in Boké, north Guinea, MSF opened a new centre for Ebola treatment on July 3 Egyptian president decrees that church buildings and mosques will pay for electricity Cairo, Egypt: All Egypt’s church buildings and mosques will soon have to pay electricity bills with the exemption enjoyed up to now becoming a thing of the past. The news was announced by official spokesman at the Copt Orthodox Patriarchate, who added that the new
Moves are being taken to protect children in Amazonia
and land left empty, relying on the fact that there is little probability that the owners will ever return to reclaim the properties in question. In Iraq, Christian members of parliament and Christian citizens’ associations have appealed to the local administration to put an end to the phenomenon of false certiﬁcation on which the crime is based. Countries united to to eradicate child labour in Amazonia
Photo: Maurizio Costanzo measure had been communicated by letter from the government. The letter states that the new regulations have been issued by mandate of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and that electricity meters will be installed in all places of worship. Persons responsible for churches and mosques are asked to cooperate with the technicians charged with the installation of the new appliances. The measure must clearly be seen in the light of the present serious circumstances in Egypt, and also from the economic point of view. It will apply to all places of worship without distinction, with an implicit reaffirmation of the principles of citizen equality and a determination to uproot all discrimination on the sectarian basis, so often stated by the present political leadership in Egypt. Expropriation of Christian homes in Iraq Kirkuk, Iraq: Properties and homes belonging to Christian citizens are being taken from the legitimate owners by means of falsiﬁed documents in Kirkuk, preventing the legal owners from regaining their property. The phenomenon, which has also been conﬁrmed and reported in Baghdad, is linked to corruption. In a recent case - according to the Iraqi website ankawa.com - a group of homes belonging to temporarily absent Christian citizens was raised to the ground and replaced with a car-park. Such “legalised” robbery of properties belonging to Christian families was closely connected with the exodus en masse of Iraqi Christians following USled military interventions to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. Criminals take possession of homes
Iquitos, Peru: The governments of Peru and Brazil is launching a campaign to promote the eradication of child labour in Amazonia. On August 8 in Iquitos, the largest city in Peru’s Amazon region, the Peru-Brazil Two Nation Festival will be held which aims to increase awareness regarding the situation in the region of Loreto. The initiative is part of a Peru-Brazil joint working plan between the countries’ respective labour ministries. During the festival, representatives of the two countries will sign a memorandum agreement to combat the scourge of child labour in the aﬀected Peruvian regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios, and in aﬀected Brazilian areas along the border with Peru. The authorities will also sign an accord to work to prevent and eradicate the phenomenon. Ebola: ‘People want to go back to normality, but we must not let our guard down’ Pujehun, Sierra Leone: The humanitarian organisation Doctors with AfricaCuamm continues to be vigilant with regards to the situation in Sierra Leone and the spread of the Ebola virus, even though the most critical phase seems to be part of the past. The three areas still aﬀected are Port Loko, Western Area, and Kambia. Cuamm has its hospital in Pujehun district, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone where an average of 3-4 suspected cases a week were registered, then unconﬁrmed. The news was conﬁrmed in a statement released by Don Dante Carraro, President of Cuamm. According to the head of the projects sector in Sierra Leone, the disease has adapted to the population and, sometimes 1-2 cases emerge sporadically. JM News round up source: Fides JUSTICE MAGAZINE 07
The Islamic State terrorist attack, in which almost 40 holidaymakers were killed in Tunisia, accompanied by atrocities in France and Kuwait, highlights again the murderous outrages the group is willing to commit. Christians have been in the firing line of the IS terrorists and other terror groups in the Middle East and the rest of the globe, writes David Alton.
Christians under fire The Middle East’s population of 12 million Christians will be halved by 2020, if current demographic trends continue. Christians made up a quarter of the Middle East’s population 100 years ago, now they are less than ﬁve per cent and just one per cent of the world’s Christians. Today, Christians are being persecuted from North Korea to Pakistan, from China to Sudan. Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles, described threats to Christians in the Middle East as ‘an indescribable tragedy’. Systematic persecution is not a new phenomenon. The Roman Empire outlawed the new growing Christian faith and condemned all Christians to death. Campaigns against Armenian Christians and, in German South West Africa - Namibia - of racial extermination of the Herero and Nama people, were the ﬁrst genocides of the 20th century 1,600 years later. Approximately 10 per cent of the two billion Christians in the world suﬀer persecution, according to Gyula Orban, an official of Aid to the Church In Need, the Catholic relief agency. Aleppo’s Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart’s archbishopric in Aleppo has been hit more than 20 times by mortar shells and was under ﬁre again in June 2015. He said Christians had lost their lives, homes and livelihoods and are being traumatised by Syria’s civil war. “ISIS, which has already killed thousands in the region, is terrifying the faithful in Aleppo. After attacks on Maloula, Mosul, Idleb and Palmyra, what is the West waiting for before it intervenes? What are the great nations waiting for before they put a halt to these monstrosities?” he said. There are fewer than 100,000 of the 250,000 Christians left in Aleppo. Thou08 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
sands have been killed, churches and ancient monasteries blown up, whole communities forced to ﬂee, bishops and priests - such as Father Jacob Murad, Bishops Hanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazici - abducted, some executed. Torture, beheadings and even ‘cruciﬁxion’ - by hanging corpses of the executed on crosses - has become commonplace. Syrian Christians living in areas controlled by the Islamic State (IS) are forced to convert to Islam or pay a punitive jizya tax. In the seventh century, Christians - in what is now Syria - had to pay half an ounce of gold to pay for the privilege of living under the protection of the Islamic Caliphate. Failure to pay left two options - convert or be killed. In February 2014, 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa faced the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of US$650 in Syrian pounds.
ISIS, which has already killed thousands in the region, is terrifying the faithful in Aleppo
Vast tracts of Syria and Iraq have become lawless and ungovernable with faultlines opening between Islamic extremists and moderates, between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and between Sunnis and Shias - with funds and arms ﬂowing in from the Gulf and Tehran. Law abiding minority communities - mainly Christians - have been caught in the crossﬁre. They have lived in places like Aleppo and the Nineveh Plains for 2,000 years and continue to worship and speak in the Aramaic language.
Joint Syrian and Kurdish forces have recaptured a number of Christian villages in north eastern Syria from IS recently, although a huge retaliatory attack is under way. Many Christians have attempted to ﬂee Syria, some risking treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean. The brutality of IS manifests itself in beheadings accompanied by a blitzkrieg on antiquities and ancient artefacts, and the destruction of Christian churches and the deﬁlement of Shia mosques. The fall of Palmyra follows the bulldozing of the ancient city of Nimrud, and demolition of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas and the Suﬁ monuments in Mali. IS is attempting to eradicate the collective memory of humanity, destroying all that is ‘diﬀerent’, while cynically smuggling and selling the antiquities which they do not destroy to fund their campaign. IS presents this as a clash of civilisations but the manner in which they debase all that is civilised simply pits civilisation against barbarism. IS is also at war with other Muslims and those of other faith traditions. It describes itself as the Islamic State, but this is a misnomer. It is certainly not a state and many Muslim scholars challenge the Islamic basis on which it forces Christians to convert or die as the Quran says there should be no compulsion in religion. This same hatred of Christians has been nurtured by other radical groups from the Taliban to al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. Jihadist ideology by al-Shabaab-afﬁliated Islamist militants saw Christian students speciﬁcally singled out in an attack where 147 students died at Kenya’s Garissa University College. A Christian couple was burned alive
Christians and Muslims at Harmanli refugee camp in Bulgaria Photo: UNHCR/D. Kashavelov
in a kiln earlier in 2015 by a mob of 1,300 people in Pakistan while their young children were forced to watch. This followed the killing of 85 Anglicans who were praying in their church at Peshawar in 2013. British politicians have raised the tragic case of Nauman Masih, a 15year-old Christian boy, who was beaten, tortured and burnt alive on April 9, 2015, in Lahore, after he was identiﬁed as a Christian. This follows the murder of Pakistan’s only Christian Cabinet Minister, Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, in 2011. Nobody has been convicted for this. Pakistan’s ﬁrst President, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, said at its founding in 1947: “Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion, faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life and their culture. They will be, in all
respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste and creed.” Minorities in Pakistan are neither safeguarded or protected with only about 1.5 per cent or three million Christians in 2015 out of a population of 182 million people. Boko Haram is creating havoc and fear in Nigeria, graphically illustrated by the February 2014 abduction of young girls and the murder of 59 students from the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, while they slept. Churches have been bombed, pastors executed, and Christians targeted despite the government’s insistence that it is tackling Boko Haram. The terror group, which killed more than 80 people in attacks in June 2015, openly says its interim goal is ‘to eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country’. Nigeria’s north-south conﬂict is reminiscent of Sudan’s civil war (19832005), when two million people, mainly Christians, were killed.
Khartoum continues to target whole communities. It has dropped more than 2,500 bombs on its civilian, predominantly Christian, populations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan and has committed crimes against humanity in Darfur with ethnic cleansing by coreligionists. The unremitting violence has led to a massive displacement and generated vast numbers of refugees. Sudan’s near neighbour, Eritrea, is responsible for around 18 per cent of the 200,000 immigrants reaching Europe in 2014, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Boko Haram is creating havoc and fear in Nigeria, graphically illustrated by the February 2014 abduction of young girls and the murder of 59 students from the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, while they slept Eritrea is the North Korea of Africa with one of the world’s most repressive regimes. >>> 10 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 09
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi , right, has called for a ‘religious revolution’ Photo: Number 10 At the end of June, protestors gathered in London to mark the 13th anniversary of the imposition of severe restrictions on churches in Eritrea, the deposing and house arrest of the Eritrean patriarch, Abune Antonnios and imprisonment of other Christians. Fleeing Eritrean Christians braved arduous journeys to reach Libya only to be captured there by IS and beheaded. Freedom of belief is at the heart of the struggle for the future of whole societies and countries. Egypt was horriﬁed in February 2015 by the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts who were working in Libya. I suggested in 2013 that we should compare the charred husk of the 10 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin in 1938, with pictures of the blackened walls of Degla’s ruined Church of the Virgin Mary, and why August 2013 represented Egypt’s Kristallnacht. This was one of many churches attacked, along with Christian homes and businesses. The situation has improved under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi but the head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Dr Mohamed Abul-Ghar, warned that the forced displacement of Coptic families by customary meetings is contrary to Egypt’s Constitution, the principles of citizenship, humanity and justice. These remarks followed the displace-
ment of a number of Coptic families in Beni Suef because a member of these families was accused of allegedly publishing cartoons of the Prophet of Islam on his Facebook account. The man is illiterate. Egyptian writer and novelist Fatima Naaot, in a message to the president, says that the displacement of Christian families from their villages and the burning of their homes in front of security forces is a scandal which undermines the sovereignty of the Egyptian state and indicates an absence of the rule of law and the fall in the prestige of the government and the president. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
called for a “religious revolution” in 2015 to re-examine those aspects of Islamic thinking which “make an enemy of the whole world”. But, despite his calls for religious renewal, “contempt of religion” and blasphemy charges are occurring more frequently. These can be an impediment to healthy and constructive religious debate and can encourage vindictive acts. It against this background - from Syria and Iraq, to Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and many other countries in which Christians and others are persecuted for their beliefs - that June 2015 witnessed a human rights conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on combatting intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. Was it a black sense of humour or an astute move to have asked Saudi Arabia to host this event? Saudi Arabia is one of the worst violators of religious freedom, and Saudi Wahhabism has fuelled many of these conﬂicts. Given the West’s oil dependent, armsproviding, symbiotic relationship with Saudi Arabia, it is hard to imagine much being said about the Saudi human rights activist, Raif Badawi, at the conference. He is in prison for the crime of religious dissent and under threat of further public ﬂogging and potential execution Saudi Arabia ranks sixth on the 2014 World Watch List of most repressive countries for Christians, a list compiled by the charity, Open Doors. When a country like Saudi Arabia passes legislation deﬁning atheists as terrorists, beheads or tortures its citizens, and refuses to protect the right of minorities to follow their beliefs, or to have no belief, is it any wonder that such actions are mimicked by IS? Saudi Arabia beheads people in the public square which is routinely practised by IS. The Jeddah Conference aimed to discuss how to eﬀectively implement UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against people due to their religion or beliefs. Saudi Arabia, unlike IS, really is an Islamic state and it would be the ﬁrst place to start heralding an acceptance of pluralism of belief and upholding diversity and diﬀerence. In his opening speech to the Conference, OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani said that the international human rights community attached
great importance to combating religious intolerance. Mr Madani correctly observed that religious hatred needs to be addressed at all levels, including the need to ascertain the limits of freedom of expression to determine where it ends and transforms into incitement to hatred. World leaders face the challenge of championing and upholding the rule of law and the protection of minorities - beyond conferences and speeches. That is the antidote to Jihadist ideology, not assassination squads or endless aerial bombardment. The war lords and regime leaders responsible for persecution and atrocities should face justice. The challenge is to increase the eﬀectiveness of the International Criminal Court, systematically collect evidence, document the atrocities and demand the United Nations Security Council instigates prosecutions. More safe havens are needed to protect beleaguered groups of Christians, and others, and every foreign minister needs to promote Article 18 obligations.
The war lords and regime leaders responsible for persecution and atrocities should face justice
Dag Hammarskjold, one of the great Secretary Generals of the UN (1953-1961), once said: “The UN wasn’t founded to take mankind to paradise but rather to save humanity from hell.” It is hard to see that the international community is achieving even that limited objective. The UN, our Western legislators, policymakers and media need to become literate about religion. The BBC’s chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet, said: “If you don’t understand religion - including the abuse of religion - it’s becoming ever harder to understand our world.” The central question of how nations learn to live together, tolerantly respecting and rejoicing in the dignity of diﬀerence is at the heart of all these challenges. It means emphasising a common humanity; promoting the ability of members of all religious faiths to manifest their religion; and allow all people to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society.
Aid programmes and humanitarian interventions have to reﬂect values and be used to protect minorities, provide security, and to open the possibility of decent lives for those currently trying to ﬂee their native homelands. Countries can apply ‘soft power’ - or smart power - in the way aid is provided and by shutting it oﬀ, or threatening to shut it oﬀ, where necessary - and in how values are shared through education and the media. The immediate and over-arching concern remains the plight of Middle Eastern Christians. The international community has to be more consistent in its moral outrage rather than denouncing some countries for their suppression of minorities while appeasing others who directly enable jihad through ﬁnancial support. Western powers are seen as hypocrites when business interests determine responses to human rights abuses. This is not about Christians versus Muslims. Religious persecution takes place all over the world and those responsible should be prosecuted. A Pew Research Centre study found that religious repression was recorded in 151 of 185 countries studied in the last 10 years. The dramatic rise in the persecution of Christians has been accompanied by a viliﬁcation of Islam and, in Europe especially, the reawakening of anti-Semitism. The three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - need to ask deep questions about what they can to remedy these issues - and become transformative agents in conﬂict management, reconciliation and healing. World leaders face the challenge of championing and upholding the rule of law and the protection of minorities - beyond conferences and speeches. That is the antidote to Jihadist ideology, not assassination squads or endless aerial bombardment Can the great faiths motivate their followers to be peace-makers, peacebuilders, protectors of minorities, and practitioners of pluralism, tolerance, mutual respect, and the upholding of the rule of law? Could global society devote comparable energy into countering religious extremism as the energy which has been used to spread religious extremism? Countries have to make the cause of those who suﬀer for their religion or belief the great cause of our times. Christians, Jews and Muslims privileged to live in free societies have to challenge cold indiﬀerence and speak up and defend humanity. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 11
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â€˜Francisconomics: The Saint, the Pope and the Economy of Enoughâ€™
/RRNLQJDWHFRQRPLFVLQWKHOLJKWRI)UDQFLVFDQVSLULWXDOLW\DQG3RSH)UDQFLVÂ¶HQF\FOLFDO Laudato Siâ€™ 7KHUHZLOODOVREHWKHRSSRUWXQLW\WRKHDUDERXWMXVWLFHDQGSHDFHDFWLYLWLHVIURP JURXSVDURXQGWKHFRXQWU\5HSUHVHQWDWLYHVRI&DWKROLF&KULVWLDQDJHQFLHVZLOOUHSRUW RQWKHLUZRUNDQGVXJJHVWSUDFWLFDOZD\VRIEHFRPLQJLQYROYHGLQFDPSDLJQLQJIRU VRFLDOMXVWLFH Tea and coffee will be provided, please bring your own lunch
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The UK is the only country in Europe not to have a time limit on how long immigrants can be detained. As part of the campaign ‘Time for a time limit’, Jewish human rights charity René Cassin co-ordinated an interfaith day of action at Harmondsworth Moor in West London - next to the largest immigration detention centre in Europe - to highlight the plight of those held in immigration centres and to press for a maximum time limit of 28 days’ detention. Representing the Catholic Church at the event was the Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark, Kevin McDonald, who spoke in relation to Catholic Social Teaching and in the light of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si which concerned both the natural and human environment.
‘We’re closely bound up with those in detention’ One thing I have observed in my ministry with sick people - people who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses - is that the most distressing thing, the most frightening thing, is not necessarily the pain or discomfort or disability they experience. It’s not knowing how long it is going to last - not knowing what the future holds. Once a doctor is able to explain to a patient that there is going to be this procedure or that procedure, and after this amount of time things will change, then people begin to feel better straight away. The fact that there is no statutory time limit on immigration detention is itself a cause of great fear and distress. It is quite wrong. It robs people of conﬁdence and of hope. It is entirely possible to develop schemes and procedures which allow people to reside in the community while, for example, their migration status is being resolved or while they await deportation. Other countries do this. In any event, migrants need to be engaged with in a humane and respectful way. It is also the case that the present system is inefficient. People are at the mercy of a system that is characterised by issues of lack of space and lack of resources. This situation arises, of course, because too many people are detained in the ﬁrst place. So, like other Catholic bishops, I support the key recommendations of 14 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
the joint inquiry by All Party Groups, particularly when they say that the use of detention is disproportionate and that there should in any event be a limit of 28 days. Let me now put this in the context of some wider issues. One issue is the negative connotation to the word ‘migrant’ which seemed to be present particularly in a lot of the rhetoric leading up to the last General Election. As the former Archbishop of Southwark, I know how much our parishes in South London have been enriched and
I retired early for health reasons, and I know the debt I owe to my Iraqi surgeon and to many Filipino nurses
enlivened by the presence of Catholics from Africa, Asia, South America and many other places. I appointed many African and Asian parish priests during my time in office. And it is not only in the Church that immigration is a source of growth and renewal. I retired early for health reasons, and I know the debt I owe to my Iraqi surgeon and to many Filipino nurses. Many of you will have similar
kinds of stories to tell. So what kind of principles should lie behind our attitude to migrants? Let me just enumerate some of them which come from Catholic Social Teaching. They are based on two fundamental principles, namely human dignity and the Common Good. We believe that all men and women are made in the image and likeness of God. We are all equal in the sight of God. In a way, the particular principles are pretty obvious but in today’s climate they need to be asserted: 1. Persons have the right to ﬁnd opportunities in their homeland. 2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. This is because the goods of the earth belong to everyone on the earth. 3. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders. But there are responsibilities about how that right should be exercised. 4. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected. In particular, people who ﬂee wars and persecutions need the protection of the global community. So the Common Good of humanity is not served when the rights and dignity of any individual are ignored or undermined. The negative and punitive perception of migrants that seems to have gained currency and acceptability is just not
of Isis. But I would press that point, and speak about the religious ecology of the world today. No religion is an island. Positive and creative relationships between the diﬀerent religions are an indispensable ingredient in the quest for social cohesion and peace, for human rights and for eﬀectively exercising our responsibilities for the environment. Each religion must ﬁnd within itself the resources and the motivation to respect and collaborate with other religions. This should not be just a pragmatic or tactical strategy, but a matter of religious principle.
A sign at the interfaith day Photo: René Cassin worthy of a civilised society, and this attitude seems to be reﬂected in current provisions and legislation: Lack of access to means-tested beneﬁts, lack of availability of legal aid and the controversy about the requirement that non-EU migrant workers must earn at least £35,000 a year after six years or they will lose their right to remain in the UK. It has been demonstrated that our public services, including the National Health Service Service, would be unsustainable if the rule were rigidly enforced. So present attitudes and provisions are not only unjust, they are perverse. But let me come back to Pope Francis and the fundamental principles that lie behind this from a Christian perspective.
God created the world and it is one world. We share it. It is a gift. Nobody owns it. The right to private property is not an absolute right. We all share responsibility for protecting and sustaining our earth, our climate, all the forms of life on our planet in all their variety and diversity and all our fellow men and women. We are in it together. Pope Francis talks about “our common home”. I think there is a mindset here that we need to get into. The opposite is a mindset that is proprietorial and territorial. He also uses the phrase “integral ecology” and under that heading he talks about the cultural heritage of humanity which is currently under threat because
We must publicly acknowledge and proclaim the beliefs and convictions we have in common. If we don’t do this, we are complicit in helping to create the impression that people of religions are always at odds with one another, if not at war with one another
We are enriched in this country by the presence of people of diﬀerent religious backgrounds, but we need interaction, cross-fertilisation, conviction and commitment if this situation is to develop and work for the good of all. We must express and explore together our common faith in God as creator and sustainer of life. We must publicly acknowledge and proclaim the beliefs and convictions we have in common. If we don’t do this, we are complicit in helping to create the impression that people of religions are always at odds with one another, if not at war with one another. We live together in this country in freedom. What we do as a country, and how we live together as people of faith in a dangerous world, is vitally important and we need to embrace the challenge. We are closely bound up with one another and we are all closely bound up with the people who are in living in Harmondsworth Detention Centre. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 15
Rebekah Kates Lemke on how cans, buttons and boxes are building brains in Tanzania
An altogether different kind of Toy Story A new Toy Story is being told with tin cans, old socks, buttons, boxes and plastic bottles. Savvy adults take stuﬀ that might be regarded as junk and upcycle it to help raise smarter, healthier children. The toys are simple and require a lot of imagination - but that’s the point. An estimated one-third of children some 200 million - under the age of 5 fail to meet their developmental potential. That’s why early childhood development - a child’s physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development from before birth to age 8 - is a critical focus for the American charity Catholic Relief Services. Toys can help by stimulating minds and engaging imaginations. In fact, toys are often a child’s introduction to education, creativity and socialising. Because toys ﬁre brain activity that is vital to future learning and survival, getting toys into the hands of children at an early age can mean less need for help in the future. But toys can be taken for granted or simply dismissed as unnecessary. For families that need to focus their energy on securing food, shelter, medicine and clothing, toys may be seen as a luxury. With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the THRIVE project in Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi helps children aged 0-5 to receive high-quality services and support so they can reach their potential. Many children are particularly vulnerable at this critical period because of poverty and HIV. THRIVE helps them get proper health care and nutrition for their bodies - and their minds. That’s where the toys come in. Research and common sense agree: 16 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
play is essential to learning. It’s central to early childhood development. And toys are the tools children use to play. They are necessary to develop and stimulate the brain. Toys do not need to be expensive or come from a store. A kitchen pan lid or a homemade block can do just as much as the latest gadget from any high-end toy store. Experience and research show toys just need to help children interact and explore the world around them. Toys open up a world of possibilities for children and their parents.
Getting toys into the hands of children at an early age can mean less need for help in the future
Besides helping children meet developmental milestones and acquire language skills, toys encourage imagination and social development. They can foster friendships, as children learn how to share, negotiate and challenge each other. Playing with toys can be therapeutic. Many of the children in CRS’ THRIVE programme face daily struggles with poverty or health concerns. Toys oﬀer a way for them to just be kids. Parents say their locally made toys have made a diﬀerence in their children’s lives, and in some cases have allowed them to catch up to their peers’ development. Toys can build a child’s conﬁdence. “See what I built?” a child says as he or
she ﬁnishes stacking blocks, for example. Children are proud of what they can do with toys, and when an adult acknowledges that accomplishment, their selfesteem gets a boost. Toys can provide income. Many parents and guardians have become enthusiastic toy makers. They are proud to share their work and can often sell the toys for a proﬁt. Since September 2012, CRS has helped thousands of adults recognise the importance of toys and play in children’s lives. First, CRS trains partners to help children develop gross and ﬁne motor skills. Those partners then work with parents to enhance their children’s learning. Classroom work and home visits help parents understand that toys do more than distract children; they are important tools for identifying and developing the individual talents and interests of children. An adult in Tanzania recalls observing a budding writer: “Every time she comes, she chooses the pen to use. After taking the pen, she tries to write. When you give her other stuﬀ like a ball, she throws them away. She only likes the pen. Maybe she has the talent of studying and writing.” Communities and health facilities hold clinics and workshops for parents at least once a month in part to help them recognise these opportunities for children’s growth and development. And while the parents participate in the workshops, their children have opportunities to play and socialise with other children. The workshops teach parents the importance of attachment through body and eye contact, positive feedback—like smiling—and the beneﬁts of breastfeeding. >>>18
A playground and a community space was created by CRS for the THRIVE project. Photo: Philip Laubner
JUSTICE MAGAZINE 17
Children playing with toys created with locally sourced materials. Photo: Philip Laubner They also learn how to make toys and encourage learning in the home. “[At the training,] I learned how to make balls and footballs. When I got home, my grandkids were so impressed. Kids are so happy to see what we have,
Many adults enthusiastically share what they have learned, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Thanks to their work - and that of other community members - children have dozens of unique toys to play with
18 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
and they don’t believe that we are the ones that made it,” says a volunteer. Many adults enthusiastically share what they have learned, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Thanks to their work - and that of other community members - children have dozens of unique toys to play with. “This one parent used to say you should go and buy a ball for the child. But at the [early childhood development centre], I showed him how to make a ball…the kid has lots of toys at home now,” says a community health worker in Kenya. Now, more toys - many made with odds and ends from around the house - are reaching more kids. “I was making stimulation tools by drawing a duck picture. Where I stay, it is just by a roadside. So many people were passing by. People have copied my skills. I once visited one family and I saw that same thing that I made,” says a health worker from Tanzania. Besides the beneﬁts of toys, caregivers also learn how to create a safe environment by ensuring toy-making materi-
als don’t have sharp parts and choking hazards. The toys they make are simple and age appropriate. For newborns, a mobile using string and paper provides visual stimulation. Research shows that visually appealing objects stimulate babies’ brain growth. For infants, storytime with a handmade book provides bonding time. Books also help with early literacy, diction, pronunciation, language and vocabulary. Toddlers respond well to singing and physical activities while building with blocks and playing dressing up helps to expand creativity. Three-to-ﬁve-year-olds, with their longer attention span, can handle number and letter cards. Other activities - like taking turns rolling a tyre - help develop hand-eye co-ordination and encourage social skills. JM Rebekah Kates Lemke is a web producer for Catholic Relief Services. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.
The media spotlight may have moved on, but the effort to re-build the fractured country of Haiti goes on, reports Tara Finglas.
A beacon of hope in the darkness More than ﬁve years after the catastrophic earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti, it is struggling to escape the cycle of poverty that has created an 80 per cent unemployment rate. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake didn’t just shatter buildings, and livelihoods, it crumbled the already fragile infrastructure bursting at the seams. “If you were born in Ireland, you get up in the morning or your mother gets up in the morning, and she can turn on the light and it comes on,” says Gena Heraty, volunteer with Nos Petits Frères et Soeur (Our Little Brothers and Sisters), “if she wants to boil some water she puts on the gas or she plugs in the electric kettle. “She has a nurse who can check on the baby or if something goes wrong she can go to the doctor. She doesn’t need to worry. “In Haiti, for most mothers around us
Teacher Delicarme Chery assists 12 year old Fabenson during art class. Photo: NPH Haiti
20 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
on the mountains, there are no doctors. Look around you at the mountains, imagine you have a child around you, being pregnant there, and having to walk for miles to get to local transport. “Then you have to get to the doctor. There is no follow up care for the kids. It’s very difficult. There’s no social welfare. There’s no medical card. You go to the main general hospital, and if you don’t have money to buy bandages, injections, antibiotics then you are just going to die there.” Originally from County Mayo, Gena has lived and volunteered with the orphanage in the hillside village of Kenscoﬀ just 10km from the capital Port-auPrince for 20 years. Supported by Irish agency Misean Cara, the orphanage is a beacon of hope in Kenscoﬀ. It is a testament to the staﬀ and volunteers who dedicate themselves to providing a home for so many chil-
dren; psycho-social services to children with disabilities; access to school; and advocating for the issue of disability rights. Gena, and the other volunteers from the Irish volunteer sending agency Viatores Christi provide a lifeline to children abandoned simply because their families cannot aﬀord to feed and take care of them. “We have more than 300 children living here, and one population of 30-40 children who are disabled with special needs. “Generally in Haiti, if you’re a child with special needs you’re abandoned at hospitals. You’re not abandoned because your mother doesn’t love you. You’re abandoned because your mother doesn’t have the means to take care of you. “A lot of these children [with special needs] have epilepsy, and they can’t aﬀord to buy the drugs for them. These children need physical therapy but there’s no access or place for physical therapy,” says Gena. With a regressed life expectancy of just 62.7 years as compared with Ireland’s 80.9 years, Haiti’s development has stalled. Unfortunately during difficult times those most vulnerable suﬀer the most, and for Haiti’s children they bear the brunt. “Whenever a child dies as happens, we can accept a new child like little Finnega,” says Gena, “she was abandoned in our hospital when we had found her. Before that she had been abandoned in another orphanage, and she had been in a coma. One side of her body is paralysed, she does have the paralytic function, and that probably happened when she was in the coma.” “In order for her to survive from where she came from before she had to be taught how to survive.
Strengthening motor skills is very important for children with physical disabilities. Five year old Pierrin laughs as he plays with his teacher Enide Paulime in Klas Abey. Photo: NPH Haiti “You can imagine that if someone is picking on you, which was what was happening to her. “You can imagine she was very distrustful, and very rough. In a very short amount of time she transformed. Her face went from being suspicious, sad and serious to smiling, happy and bright. She’s very aﬀectionate. “She’s a very smart girl, and now she is going to school. Before she would never had the chance to go to school. I mean she loves her copy book and writing and stuﬀ like that. “She has great potential, and the most important thing is that she has been accepted.” One of the challenges of life is how you respond to crises. Loss and despair can be overwhelming but making a concerted eﬀort to turn darkness into light has been Gena’s greatest achievement. The earthquake took one of her colleagues, and many people from her community. Gena did not lose hope, and she has been working ever since to turn the potential she sees everyday into reality that will transform the country. “I always have hope. I think it will take
Learning is fun! Seven year old Bertini enjoys playing with Getha Badio. Photo: NPH Haiti
time. If we look at the big picture we would go a little bit crazy but for me the hope is that every person who comes in front of you in any given time be present to that person, and do the best that you can do. “We have more roads than ever, and we have more electricity than before. “My hope is that with infrastructure we will get more stability, and we’ll get
more investment in the country. That is what we need. The people of Haiti for me are very capable, and they are hardworking. For me it takes two things: ﬁrst of all love - you can’t do anything without love, and from love comes your commitment; investment - whether it’s investment in yourself personally or investment of people putting their money in.” JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 21
Feature: Laudato Si
For ordinary people, what is an “ecological conversion” as spoken about by Pope Francis in Laudato Si and how does it translate to effective change at the appropriate levels? Marcus Mescher explains.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE CLIMATE CHANGE? It has been more than a month since Pope Francis’ highly-anticipated ﬁrst encyclical, Laudato Si was released. For the most part, the dust has settled from those debating the scientiﬁc underpinnings, political bias, and theological veracity of Francis’ core message that Christians are morally responsible for the environment. In the main, this teaching should come as little surprise. After all, human beings are made covenant partners with God and the rest of creation in Genesis 9:9-10. The tenets of Catholic Social Teaching have long included being good stewards of creation. And 25 years ago, Pope John Paul II declared that: “Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone ... I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue. “Even men and women without any 22 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
particular religious conviction, but with an acute sense of their responsibilities for the common good, recognise their obligation to contribute to the restoration of a healthy environment. “All the more should men and women who believe in God the Creator, and who are thus convinced that there is a welldeﬁned unity and order in the world, feel called to address the problem. “Christians, in particular, realise that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.” This encyclical calls Christians to recognise that ecological responsibility in the face of climate change isn’t reserved for politicians or environmentalists; it follows from a worldview that sees the whole created order revealing itself as a sacrament of the divine: “As Christians, we are also called to ‘accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on
a global scale’” (#9). Pope Francis’ call for “ecological conversion” (#5) comes at a time when “green fatigue” appears to be at an all-time high in the U.K., U.S., and in much of the developing world. A 2013 GlobeScan survey of more than 22,000 respondents from 22 countries reported concerns about environmental issues have dipped to a 20 year low. A 2014 Gallup poll revealed that only 1 in 3 Americans say they worry “a great deal” about climate change. Earlier this year, PwC’s annual global CEO survey didn’t even ask about their global warming concerns after last year’s poll showed only one-tenth of the 1,322 business leaders indicated interest in the subject. In an attempt to stem the tide of ignorance and apathy on the subject, Pope Francis recently invited 65 local and regional leaders to the Vatican for a two-day conference on how cities can combat climate change. Mayors from
South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the US signed a declaration agreeing that leaders should come to a “bold agreement that conﬁnes global warming to a limit safe for humanity while protecting the poor and vulnerable.” This gathering of leaders aimed to build momentum for some measurable progress at the U.N. climate summit scheduled to convene in Paris at the end of this year in the wake of several previous failed attempts. But for ordinary people like you and me, what does an “ecological conversion” require and how does it translate to effective change at the appropriate levels? It is ﬁrst necessary to identify from what this conversion implies a turn. A clue comes from the document’s quote of a 2005 homily by Pope Benedict XVI: “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.” Laudato Si goes beyond calling for greater awareness of the scope of the current ecological crisis or a more moderate consumption of energy, resources, and products; this encyclical asks its readers to reﬂect on why human beings consume more than we need. What is underneath the desire that runs the hedonic treadmill to purchase, use, and dispose? In his book, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire, William Cavanaugh turns this question all the way back to Augustine. Augustine’s insight in Confessions is that to be human is to be fundamentally restless, which is a good thing because it keeps us from being satisﬁed by anything except that which can ultimately ﬁll us: God. Being human means being hardwired for God, the telos of our desires underneath the multitudinous, often ﬂeeting desires we might be responding to more impulsively. Augustine also recognises the ways in which desire is a social construct: our desires are shaped by the world around us and those with whom we interact. Freedom, Augustine argues, isn’t capriciously following our desires; it’s being mindful about cultivating true desires that lead us closer to our ultimate destiny, God. As Cavanaugh writes: “This is not just a matter of wanting too much; it is a matter of wanting without any idea why we want what we want … To desire with no telos, no connection to the objective end of desire, is to desire nothing and to become nothing” (14). “Without any speciﬁc aim in mind, in other words, the search is literally endless. >>>24
This encyclical calls Christians to recognise that ecological responsibility in the face of climate change isn’t reserved for politicians or environmentalists Pope Francis has called on people to have an ecological conversion Photo: Mazur/ catholicchurch.org.uk JUSTICE MAGAZINE 23
Feature: Laudato Si It is an aimless wandering in the desert, not just in the sense of being isolated and unfulﬁlled, but in laying waste to the world by trying to ﬁll the void within. Just as Benedict XVI noted ten years ago, “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.” These internal deserts are not by accident or by defect in being human. They are - just as Augustine recognised so long ago - socially constructed. We live in a world bombarding us with images and messages that try to make us believe that our value is tied to having and doing; that we can be loved only by marking ourselves with the right symbols, logos, and brands. Advertisements feed on our insecurity and make us believe that anxiety will only be allayed by the right product or lifestyle. This insecurity fuels an unchecked rate of consumption, which can lead either to a competitive desire for dominance or a spiral downward spurred by fear that we are not, in fact, good or lovable. Long forgotten or ignored is the account of creation found in Genesis that makes clear that all of creation is very good as it is (Gen. 1:36). In Laudato Si, Pope Francis makes a personal appeal to his reader to recall this innate goodness through an “awareness that each creature reﬂects something of God and has a message to convey to us, and the security that Christ has taken unto himself this material world and now, risen, is intimately present to each being, surrounding it with his aﬀection and penetrating it with his light. Then too, there is the recognition that God created the world, writing into it an order and a dynamism that human beings have no right to ignore. We read in the Gospel that Jesus says of the birds of the air that “not one of them is forgotten before God” (Lk 12:6). How then can we possibly mistreat them or cause them harm? I ask all Christians to recognise and to live fully this dimension of their [ecological] conversion. May the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us” (#221). The Pope also asks his reader to pray, giving thanks to God before and after meals, since this “moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labors provide us with these goods; 24 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Cardinal Nichols launches Pope Francis’ ﬁrst encyclical, Laudato si, at Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Poplar, East London Photo: Mazur/www.catholicchurch.org.uk and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need” (#227). In this encyclical, Pope Francis is urging Christians to take up a “sacramental vision” that sees the whole world and all members of creation as good, as sacred, and revealing the divine (#9). In this spirit, prayer might become a practice to sacramentally imagine the world as God sees it in order to love it as God does (Jn 13:34). To look upon the world in this way is to be inspired with wonder and awe at the beauty, intricacy, and interdependence of the created order, to recognise its fragility, and subvert the “globalization of indiﬀerence” Pope Francis has lamented, allowing so many to remain unmoved by the destruction and suﬀering of so much of the created order. This “sacramental vision” avoids the twin temptations of presumption that God will ﬁx the problems humans have created and despair that humans are not capable of changing the beliefs and practices which have created these problems in the ﬁrst place. We might understand the virtue of hope as the “golden mean” between these vicious extremes of presumption and despair. And it is hope that begins the work of conversion to irrigate internal deserts by recalibrating desires. What do we desire? What do we want for ourselves, our children, and others who will live long after us? What do we hope for a creation that reﬂects the presence of God in our midst? Do we believe that a “bold cultural revolution” (#114) is possible? Do we care enough to preserve our common home? One of the greatest obstacles to
Catholic Social Teaching is that it is routinely referred to as the church’s “best kept secret.” Despite the hundreds of pages of teachings that span hundreds of years, the difficulty lies not in knowing about these principles but in translating them into practices for everyday life. Pope Francis makes clear there is “no uniform recipe” (#180) to create the change that is needed. However, in making these appeals to prayer and other simple practices (like using less paper, plastic, water and other resources; reducing food spoilage and waste; relying on public transportation or carpools, etc., #211), Laudato Si is providing pathways to the dispositions and habits that form character and build communities. These are reasons for hope. Climate change will not be resolved by Popes or politicians alone. Policy revisions and legal ramiﬁcations might compel certain practices and procedures, but authentic change—conversion, if you will—can only take root from within. The moral will to embrace this duty to right-relationship with God, others, and all creation follows from ﬁrst seeing with eyes that recognise the world around us as “like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us” (#1). Hope can give us this vision, guide our hearts, illuminate our minds, and motivate our hands so that each one of us can do our part, too. JM Marcus Mescher, Ph.D, is assistant professor of Christian Ethics at Xavier University, Cincinnati, in the United States
Feature: Laudato Si
Tony Magliano on why Laudato Si should be celebrated and acted upon as a vital document for our time
Children spell out thier vision for the future Photo: Mazur/www.catholicchurch.org.uk
The green encyclical has arrived It’s courageous, it’s prophetic, it’s challenging, it’s holistic, it’s wonderful: That’s what I think of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home. Quoting his patron saint, Francis of Assisi – who is also the patron saint of ecology – Pope Francis begins his papal letter with a beautiful verse from the saint’s Canticle of the Creatures: “ ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured ﬂowers and herbs.’ “St Francis of Assisi reminds us,” writes the Pope, “that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who
opens her arms to embrace us. “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inﬂicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.” Pope Francis explains: “Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense
pile of ﬁlth.” The Holy Father then weighs in on climate change. vIgnoring the weak scientiﬁc claims of those who deny the climate is changing and that the earth is warming – due principally to human pollution – he writes: “A very solid scientiﬁc consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.” Indeed, the scientiﬁc consensus is very solid. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “97 per cent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” >>>26
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Feature: Laudato Si Pope Francis continues: “In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events…humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming. “The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels” – that is coal, oil and gas. The Pope urgently calls for global conversion from the use of these fossil fuels to “clean renewable energy” – wind, solar and geothermal. “Climate change … represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.”
The depletion of ﬁshing reserves especially hurts small ﬁshing communities without the means to replace those resources
For example: “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to ﬂee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. “The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. “Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making eﬀorts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.” In a rebuke to some multinational corporations operating in economically underdeveloped countries Francis writes: “Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable.” 26 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Pope Francis Photo: Mazur/ www.catholicchurch.org.uk Francis then turns his attention to the growing scarcity of clean water – especially in Africa – and the reckless pollution of much of our existing water. And he writes about his concern regarding the privatization of water – “turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. “Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water,” says Francis. The Pope expresses deep concern that the many injustices of market-based economies, together with environmental degradation, have their gravest eﬀects on the poor and vulnerable. He writes: “The depletion of ﬁshing reserves especially hurts small ﬁshing communities without the means to replace those resources; water pollution particularly aﬀects the poor who cannot buy bottled water; and rises in the sea level mainly aﬀect impoverished coastal populations who have nowhere else to go. Francis tries to awaken the consciences of all – especially the economically and politically powerful – to the plight of the poor. He writes that in political and economic discussions the poor seem to be brought up as an afterthought. “Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile.” Francis astutely observes that living comfortable lifestyles far removed from the poor, often leads to a “numbing of conscience” and to a cold impersonal analysis. “At times this attitude exists side by side with a ‘green rhetoric.’
“Today, however, we have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Observing the connection between the degradation of the environment and war Francis writes: “It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars.” Pope Francis says in addition to highlighting the duty of each person to care for nature, the Church “must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.” The Holy Father sees the environmental problem as part of a much larger, more serious problem: Our failure to consistently recognise the truth that everyone and everything is interconnected. He explains: “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to oﬀer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. … “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justiﬁcation of abortion.” Pope Francis sees in St Francis a perfect example of one who fully understood our interrelatedness. He writes that St Francis “was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace”. Pope Francis has given the world a great gift. With wise insight, he has laid out for us the truth of our interconnectedness with all creation – not only in the ecological web of life, but as persons sharing one human nature, and spiritually as brothers and sisters united to God, who is father of all. However, because we continue to ignore the vital necessity of nurturing this interconnectedness, the ecological, social and spiritual web is tearing. But if we care at all, we still have a little time to mend the tears. For anyone interested in being a part of the solution, Laudato Si is a must read. JM Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist
hoto: Sam Tarling/Caritas Switzerland A Caritas project in Lebanon which is providing helter for Syrians who have fled their homes.
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Isolation and stress can result from long voyages at sea by today’s modern seafarers, reports Greg Watts.
Crews on today’s cargo vessels are often drawn from some of the world’s poorest countries Photo: AoS
Giving a voice to the crew
Earlier this year, the largest British-registered ship, the CMA GCM Kerguelhen, set sail from Southampton to China. The length of four football pitches, it carried 17,700 containers, which, if lined up end-to-end, would stretch for 67 miles. Yet such a huge vessel has only 26 crew members. Spending months at sea on a ship this size with few colleagues to talk to, and being in the middle of the ocean, hundreds or thousands of miles from land, can be a very isolating and stressful experience. Most of us get to see our family and close friends regularly. But for seafarers, with nine-month contracts common on many ships, this isn’t the case. They accept this sacriﬁce stoically, as going to sea is often the only way to earn enough money to support their families. Nowadays most seafarers come from poorer parts of the world, such as the Philippines, India, or Ukraine. Roger Stone, Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) chaplain to Southampton and the southern ports, has been on board many large container ships and knows from the seafarers he has met what it’s like to work on such vessels. “It varies according to where you work on the ships. Senior officers can be on board for as short as two months. Ratings can be on board for nine months. Cadets can be on board for 12 months. The longer they are on board, the more difficult it becomes,” he said. “The smaller the crew, the less variety 28 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
seafarers have in their workplace. All it takes is for one awkward or difficult character and the atmosphere changes for the worse. The largest ships can sail with only seven crew members, although there are engineers on board to attend to the refrigerated containers. “Seafarers are nearly always tired and this must increase the risk of accidents or tensions between individuals on board. “Sometimes there are culture clashes which can lead to isolation for seafarers. This applies as much to senior officers as it does to junior. Smaller crews mean it’s even more difficult to go ashore and ‘be normal’ if only for an hour or two.”
Nowadays most seafarers come from poorer parts of the world, such as the Philippines, India, or Ukraine
Many seafarers Roger meets on large container ships talk to him about feeling lonely on long voyages. “Seafarers work closely with the same people for a long time, eat in the same place, sit opposite the same person every meal time. The larger the ships, the more cranes they assign to move the boxes. “Seafarers are often bored. Food, work, sleep, food, work, sleep. Go to
their cabins, watch a movie, contact home if they can.” Because stevedores, the men in the port who load and unload vessels, are on bonuses to ﬁnish the job as soon as possible, ships are in port for shorter periods, which means little, if any, time for seafarers to go ashore, explained Roger. A study by the Centre for Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Cardiﬀ highlighted some of the problems experienced by seafarers. Its research showed seafarers were aﬀected by poor quality sleep, long working hours, high job demands and high stress. Other important factors included numbers of port visits and social isolation. What keeps seafarers going is the internet, Roger added. Providing seafarers
with access to the internet is one of the priorities of AoS port chaplains. “If seafarers have access to the internet, they can contact their families which encourages them and reduces the stress of separation. Some ships allow access to internet, but it’s restricted, sometimes they have to pay, some oﬀer email only.” Reﬂecting on the long voyage of the seafarers working on the Kerguelen, Roger said. “A seafarer said to me recently: ‘The worst part is that I have no family memories.’ They’re not there for birthdays, anniversaries, even deaths of family members unless very close and even then some have to ﬁght to get home in time for the funeral.” Conditions on board some ships are
poor, with little thought given to the health and safety of the crew. Seafarers will often bring their concerns to AoS, said Fr Colum Kelly, AoS port chaplain in Immingham. In one case, a crew was forced to sign a document saying they were satisﬁed with conditions on board, even though water was ﬂowing into it. When Fr Colum heard about this, he immediately contacted the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and the ship was subsequently arrested. Another time, when a ship capable of carrying 7,500 cars arrived in Immingham, he received a call from the berthing company asking for his help. Half the crew had walked oﬀ the ship and the remainder had locked themselves in the engine room.
“I met with the crew in an office compound and the full horror of their plight unfolded,” Fr Colum said. “They had survived for 19 days on boiled rice twice a day, had no bottled water on board and hadn’t been paid for two-and-a-half months. And they had not had any communication with their families.” When the crew sent a letter to the company’s representative complaining about conditions and the captain he threatened them with the police and told them they would all end up in prison. Fr Colum acted as a negotiator between the crew and the ship’s owners and arranged for a representative from the International Transport Workers Federation to visit. >>>30 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 29
Port chaplain Roger Stone Photo: AoS Eventually it was agreed that a new captain would arrive, the ship would receive a full quota of provisions; wages would be paid and various technical issues with the ship would be properly addressed. “This incident highlights the plight of some modern seafarers, unable to have their voice heard, even when the nature of their complaint is so apparent.” The sense of isolation experienced by seafarers is particularly acute if they have to be taken to hospital. Lying in a bed in a hospital ward in a strange country can be a lonely and disconcerting experience. When Douglas Duncan, AoS chaplain to north-east Scotland, received a call to say that Norman, a Filipino seafarer, had taken ill on a supply ship working out of Peterhead, he immediately went to visit him in Aberdeen Royal Inﬁrmary. He provided him with phone cards, money, wi-ﬁ, food, and arranged for his washing to be done. He then met the seafarer’s doctor, who suggested the seafarer would beneﬁt from going for a day out. “I picked him up and took him to the Aberdeen Seafarers’ Centre, where he 30 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
met with some other Filipinos. This certainly helped his mental attitude, as he was getting very low,” said Douglas. Another time, he was asked to visit El Hadji, a ﬁsherman from Senegal, who
I was able to provide him with a phone card, which he was delighted with, some reading material in French and most importantly a French to English dictionary which helped him understand what to order from his daily food card
was airlifted to hospital after being badly injured on his ship in the North Sea. “When I arrived at the hospital, I found El Hadji was heavily sedated having undergone an operation on his right foot which had been badly damaged with
four toes being badly broken. “I was informed by the staﬀ he was only able to speak French. I returned in the evening with Georgina, a parishioner from our local church, who speaks ﬂuent French. I was able to provide him with a phone card, which he was delighted with, some reading material in French and most importantly a French to English dictionary which helped him understand what to order from his daily food card. “It was pleasing that he called Georgina on the Sunday and thanked AoS for its assistance and care.” When Cardinal Vincent Nichols visited the port of Tilbury in Essex in June to see the work of AoS, he was invited on board two ships to meet the crew. The expressions of delight on the faces of the seafarers who gathered on the deck to shake hands with him said more than words. His visit acknowledged the important job they do in bringing to the UK 95 per cent of the goods we buy, and it also told them that they hadn’t been forgotten; that they weren’t invisible. And when you spend so long at sea, away from family and friends, that’s a very important message. JM
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Thomas Becker of Caritas Germany on religious NGOs as providers of social services and their relationship with the German government.
See a need and act on it The main characteristic of a free democratic country is the activity of many non-governmental organisations. People associate freely and try to manage their lives or their environment together. They organise themselves on higher levels and try to inﬂuence politics on the city, country or international level. The social system of the Federal Republic of Germany is guided by the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Consequently, the principle of solidarity governed the establishment of a closely-meshed net of social services and facilities created to provide help for people with health and social needs and which is ensured by governmental and non-governmental agencies. The principle of subsidiarity assumes that: • Tasks that can be taken care of by a community of a lower order should not be assumed by a community of a higher order. • The community of a higher order should support the community of a lower order in fulﬁll-ing its tasks independently, also through ﬁnancial support. • The motto should be: Allow as much self-reliant responsibility (individual contribution) as possible and only as much responsibility (support) of community levels of a higher order as necessary. (In accordance with Pope Pius XI. In Quadragesimo Anno, 1931). The German welfare system has to be seen as unique in Europe, and is very unlike the UK for example, where the state sector dominates in providing social services, especially in the health sector. The strict implementation of the principle of subsidiarity in the social ﬁeld has a long tradition in Germany in contrast 32 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
to other European countries. The implementation of the principle of subsidiarity in Germany is guaranteed by a legal provision which stipulates that at service provider level, non-governmental social service agencies will take precedence over governmental agencies, if the services provided by non-governmental agencies are adequate and appropriate. The consequence is freedom of choice for the individual citizen. Each individual may seek help from the speciﬁc social service that suits their needs best, with respect to its professional concept and religious or ideological outlook.
An example of the breadth of its work is that a quarter of all children in Germany who attend a day-care centre go to a Catholic establishment
The great number of non-governmental social services and facilities oﬀering assistance are organised by several nongovernmental/voluntary social welfare agencies. The social arms of the two major churches are Deutscher Caritasverband (German Caritas Association) and Diakonisches Werk der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany), respectively, while the social-democratic labour movement gave rise to Arbeiterwohl-
fahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association). Other central national organisations are Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross) and Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland (Central Welfare Office of the Jews in Germany). The Deutscher Paritätischer Wohlfahrts-verband (German Non-denominational Welfare Association) embraces more than 7,000 independent social organisations, institutions and self-help groups. Caritas Germany (Deutscher Caritasverband/DCV) was founded in 1897 by Lorenz Werthmann and is the charitable association of the Catholic Church in Germany. The organisation comprises 27 diocesan Caritas associations totalling 636 Caritas associations at various local levels, 262 charitable religious communities and 19 federal Catholic professional associations. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the local Caritas associations, the diocesan Caritas associations and the federal Catholic professional associations are autonomous and independently responsible for their activities. The German Caritas oversees 25,699 establishments of diﬀerent types oﬀering 1,233,809 places. These establishments employ more than 500,000 people. About another 500,000 volunteers work to fulﬁl the mission of Caritas in Germany. An example of the breadth of its work is that a quarter of all children in Germany who attend a day-care centre go to a Catholic establishment. Caritas, with its branches and their participating members, has three essential functions as a charity association of the Catholic Church: The German
Caritas Germany works both at home and abroad Photo: Eoghan Rice/Trocaire Caritas Association takes part in deﬁning social policy in Germany, is an important provider of social services and deploys eﬀorts towards tapping into solidarity potentials. In other words, Caritas in Germany takes part in shaping social reality in Germany. It sees its role as advocate of the disadvantaged, and, as an actor of civil society, participates in shaping and securing the social state of law.
Through its services and facilities, Caritas provides social services in all sectors of social welfare, education, and health, on an out-patient, partially inpatient, and in-patient basis. Caritas also promotes societal solidarity. All three functions of Caritas are closely interconnected and characterise the association’s relationships with state and society. Practically speaking, the precedence of
non-governmental agencies in Germany means that when a non-governmental agency is planning, say, a nursery, a hospital or a facility for disabled people, the governmental agencies will stand aside instead of establishing their own facility. About one million full-time staﬀ are employed in just under 70,000 facilities run by non-governmental social welfare agencies, i.e. 2.5 per cent of all persons in gainful employment in Germany. >>>34 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 33
Feature: Germany They are supported by about 2 million volunteers. In addition, commercial companies are tending to increase their activities in the non-governmental social and health sectors. The non-governmental social welfare agencies would not play such a major role in Germany if they had not been given priority in the provision of social services and if government had not committed itself to funding the non-governmental services through legislation. These services and facilities ﬁnance themselves by drawing on their own funds, fees paid by the social insurance institutions as well as by bodies responsible for social assistance or youth welfare in return for services provided, and government grants, especially for investment purposes. More than half the services oﬀered in the ﬁeld of social work in western Germany are provided by the non-governmental sector. There are also dangers in the principle of subsidiarity: The Government might entirely withdraw from its responsibility and leave everything up to the voluntary welfare initiatives, groups and associations in order to save money, and the voluntary welfare bodies could also lose their individual proﬁle or identity if they rely too heavily on Government support. To prevent these dangers, institutionalised modes of cooperation should be established in order for voluntary welfare bodies and government authorities to negotiate the areas of action and who is responsible for fulﬁlment of which tasks. In addition, voluntary welfare bodies require a solid basis of own funds in order to be able to “aﬀord” their individual proﬁle. The organisations responsible for social services in Germany are competitors. That is good, because such competition ensures the freedom of choice of needy persons. In Germany, the competition between social services has been shaped in a speciﬁc way, called a social tripartite system. There is a tripartite relationship between the needy persons, the state and the service providers. The state grants a social service to the needy person, but does not provide this service on its own, but enters into contractual relationships with the service providers, e.g. establishments run by Caritas, on service standards and cost reimbursement. And the needy person has the right to choose which service provider they will use to claim the state’s promise, or in other words, which provider they 34 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
A Caritas residential home in Heidelberg Photo: pilot_micha choose. Some people wonder about the advantages of such a pluralistic social welfare system; because people are different, they have diﬀerent needs. These needs are satisﬁed as far as possible by providing the legally guaranteed right to choose in the social sector as well. The agencies in the social and health care sectors oﬀer their services in diﬀerent ways and thus compete with each other, an eﬀect which helps to improve the standard of support services. The non-governmental social welfare agencies also play an important role when it comes to appealing to the people, to shaping social awareness and to motivating the population to commit themselves to voluntary social work - a social conscience cannot be established by government decree. In addition, the voluntary agencies function as pressure groups in politics
and administration; in shaping the social code, but also in asserting the speciﬁc interests of those aﬀected. This makes them to important mediators as well as partners and co-designers of the social welfare state. Poverty, unemployment and lack of solidarity with marginal groups persist in western societies, meaning that the number of recipients of social assistance in Germany has doubled over the last ten years alone. More and more people are no longer able to support themselves by working, drawing on their savings, receiving ﬁnancial support from members of the family, or receiving beneﬁts through the wage-ﬁnanced insurance systems. What has been the response of the NGOs? In recent years, non-governmental agencies have published several poverty reports and opinions drawing attention to the situation of poor people
Non-Statutory Social Welfare Organisations, the German Caritas Association bears responsibility for molding a socially just society in Germany and in Europe. It is committed to the preservation of basic social rights throughout the continuing development of the European Union. The German Caritas Association is advocate and partner of the disadvantaged, promoter of self-help and participation, provider of social services, and founder of solidarity. It cooperates with the other nonstatutory social welfare organisations to shape public welfare. As a member of the international Caritas network, it supports people in
“ in this rich country. In doing so, the organisations took on the role of advocates of the poor. As a result of these poverty reports, even the government, for the ﬁrst time 15 years ago, took note of the fact that there is poverty in Germany. It was the NGO Caritas, until then seen as a more traditional type of voluntary welfare agency, which discovered a sort of poverty that had not been empirically studied and proven before. The Caritas Poverty Studies in the years 1993 and 1996 show that for every four recipients of social assistance there are three people in covert poverty, and this rate is even higher in the east of Germany. The covert poor are people who have the right to subsistence aid, but don’t receive it. According to all political parties, they
live below the guaranteed minimum level of existence. Political lobbying for the poor has been, and still is, one of the main tasks of Caritas Germany for more than 100 years. Caritas services are as essential to fulﬁlling the life of the Church as are Church services and the proclamation of His Word. In everything it does, the German Caritas Association aims to protect the dignity of individuals, to foster a life of solidarity in a pluralistic world, and to commit itself worldwide to life in freedom, justice, and peace. As a charity organisation of the Catholic Church, the German Caritas Association helps shape the life of the Church and society in general. Its actions lend credibility to Church proclamation in the public domain. As one of six members of the group of
More than half the services oﬀered in the ﬁeld of social work in western Germany are provided by the non-governmental sector
need around the globe. Church and Caritas are two of multiple players in a pluralistic state. The welfare organisations of the Catholic (Caritas) and the Protestant/Lutheran Church (Diakonie) are the two biggest welfare organisations in Germany. In their relationship with the state they have the same rights as the other four official welfare organisations (AWO/ DPWV/The Jewish organisation and Red Cross). The six welfare organisations are combined in a state approved umbrella organisation (BAGFW). The most lobbying in social policy is done by this umbrella organisation. So the question is not the separation between Caritas and state. The question is the relationship between organisations of civil society and the state. Caritas is a natural part of civil society. Another separation concerns the relationship between Church and Caritas in the public opinion. People don’t distrust Caritas (only 6 per cent), but many people distrust the Catholic Church (45 per cent). In the present climate therefore, Caritas has a key role in trying to confer part of her good image to mother Church. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 35
Keith Fernett asks whether the current welfare system offers fairness to the vulnerable people whom it serves.
Is there justice in the welfare system? I recently attended the launch of Caritas Social Action Network’s (CSAN) latest report, Caritas reports: The impact of welfare changes in London. The report investigates the impact of welfare reforms on vulnerable people, charity staﬀ and services. The topic of the welfare system is something which I have spoken and written about frequently in the past few years, particularly with regard to the question of its eﬀectiveness and efﬁciency. However, now that the implemented austerity measures have caused great changes to the welfare system, I think it both pertinent and important to ask if this new welfare reform provides a framework which oﬀers justice to those accessing the system. To address this question, there is a need to examine what has been happening in recent years. Unfortunately we have found that there has been a move away from faceto-face contact with clients, decision making has become more remote and removed, whilst there also appears to be a conﬂict between the silos of the welfare system and wider society. These faults with the system were exempliﬁed to me lately by the case of a young man who had recently been released from prison. Upon leaving custody, he had a number of mandatory meetings to attend, including those with his probation officer and with JobCentre Plus. However, when these appointments were allocated they clashed, and with neither party willing to reschedule, he was faced with unenviable decision of which one to attend. For fear of being sent back to prison, the young man met with his probation 36 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
officer, a decision which saved society £800 a week. However, as a consequence of not being able to make his JobCentre Plus appointment, he was sanctioned and lost his access to beneﬁts. The staﬀ at Caritas Anchor House, a homeless charity supporting marginalised people in East London, recognised
The charities which took part in the report, including Caritas Anchor House, feel frustrated that their time is being spent on issues with the welfare system rather than on addressing the support needs of their clients, losing the purpose of services and staﬀ roles
the unfairness of this situation and worked with the individual to get justice for him, but such precious man hours should not be wasted dealing with an issue that could have easily been avoided. This is just one example of many which illustrate the negative impact the welfare system can have on those it is there to help. These people are often very vulnerable and in need of support provided by a so-
cial safety net – whether that be because they have fallen ill, lost their job, or more complex needs including addiction, poor mental health or have ﬂed war or danger. CSAN’s investigative report into the impact of welfare changes also details the case studies of individuals who have suﬀered injustices. The key ﬁndings from the report are also listed, and they oﬀer cause for concern. It has found that the welfare system operates an inﬂexible sanctioning process, has removed free phone lines and face-to-face interaction - therefore reducing accessibility - and is perceived to have moved from an ethos of compassion to coldness. The impact of these ﬁndings is immense, and these difficulties within the system are multiplied for those with mental health needs and learning disabilities. The lack of justice in the welfare system is a clear sign that human dignity has been removed, and this desperately needs to be brought back. It is not just those who use and need the welfare system that are feeling the changes and strains; the CSAN report has shown that the staﬀ at charities are too. The charities which took part in the report, including Caritas Anchor House, feel frustrated that their time is being spent on issues with the welfare system rather than on addressing the support needs of their clients, losing the purpose of services and staﬀ roles. Yet, as all of this continues, we are witnessing an increase in demand for our services, as more and more people in society become vulnerable. However, being able to deliver these services to our expected standards is
A beneﬁts protest in Norwich Photo: Roger Blackwell
A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE: POSITIVE PARTNERSHIP WORKING In the face of these difficulties, Caritas Anchor House has had to develop a radically diﬀerent approach in its relationships with services like the police and the Department of Work and Pensions. These organisations have been involved in Caritas Anchor House’s service delivery, and they work with the charity’s front-line service users and staﬀ in partnership. This type of partnership working oﬀers a glimpse of what the future can be like – it is more humane, person centric, efficient and fosters a sense of joint purpose for all involved. Keith Fernett Photo: Caritas Anchor House challenging when working in a climate of austerity; in the London Borough of Newham, where Caritas Anchor House is based, thesocial exclusion budget was cut by an astounding 60 per cent in 2014. In order to gain an approach that restores justice and human dignity to the most vulnerable, myself, CSAN and their member charities are urging the government to consider the following: Sanctions •The introduction of a system whereby claimants are given a chance to provide an explanation for a ﬁrst ‘oﬀence’. •An end to the use of ﬁnancial sanctions for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Staﬀ training •The development of professional training for JobCentre Plus (JCP) employees
on how to assist and support vulnerable people. Joint-working •Regular visits by Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staﬀ to local charities and organisations to meet front-line staﬀ and clients. We also support the growth of outreach initiatives where JCP staﬀ provide advice services within local charities and organisations. Partnerships •Faith communities to continue to work openly and practically with local authorities. We recommend building upon the beneﬁcial partnerships which faith-based charities have with statutory agencies, acknowledging that charities reach many socially isolated people more eﬀectively than statutory services. It is also my belief that the services provided to the most vulnerable could be greatly improved if front line service providers, like Caritas Anchor House,
were allowed to become more involved in their lives. The services which Caritas Anchor House delivers are done so in a holistic fashion, a fashion which I think is a more economic, eﬀective and caring way of doing things. To allow us to do so though, revenue needs to be channelled directly to us. I wish to see a change in the current state of aﬀairs, and I was heartened to read recently that an inquiry has been launched into the holes in our beneﬁt ‘safety net’. This type of action is just what we need to get the welfare system into one which promotes justice and therefore human dignity. To ﬁnd out more about the work of Caritas Anchor House, please visit http://caritasanchorhouse.org.uk/. To read CSAN’s report into the impact of welfare changes, please visit http:// www.csan.org.uk/. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 37
Feature: Climate change
Shelley Stromdale of Progressio reports on the lobbying taking place to secure a binding deal on during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Lobbying for the environment The UK’s largest ever mass climate lobby took place in Westminster in June; having successfully lobbied 330 MPs in one afternoon, the event aimed to inﬂuence government decisions ahead of the announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals in September. On top of the lobby, the day’s events included an interfaith wall installation, two ecumenical services and a rally to bring everyone together in celebration of the day’s success. 2015 is a pivotal year for development. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) in December, world leaders will meet to agree a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. With a newly-elected House of Commons, it is more important than ever to ensure that the civil voice on climate change is heard loud and clear. Together, UK citizens can place signiﬁcant pressure on the UK government to help achieve full parliamentary support for an ambitious global climate deal in France. At the Euro summit last October, leaders of the EU’s member states demonstrated their ability to collectively agree on targets ahead of a much-needed climate deal. At this summit, all leaders committed to a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions (greenhouse gases), at least a 27 per cent increase in renewable energy usage, and an increase in energy efficiency by at least 27 per cent, all by a deadline of 2030. This is a positive example of how 38 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
diﬀerent countries can work together to make meaningful commitments on climate that will bring about lasting change. Despite these commitments being a step forward for the global community, many believe that state leaders could have set their sights much higher. This is why Progressio and the Climate Coalition are working hard to build on the successes of last year. Progressio is encouraging MPs to invest in climate as an issue, to act boldly and to push for ambitious, legally-binding, targets on climate at COP21 in December. The Catholic agency is passionate about the environment as some of the worst impacts of climate change are felt by people living in the poorest countries, and particularly those living in fragile states. Although climate change may seem an abstract concept in the UK, the eﬀects of climate change are very real for communities in the countries where Progressio works. For example, in Honduras and El Salvador,irregular rainy seasons and extreme heat have harmed crops and damaged livelihoods, trapping people in a cycle of poverty. To break this cycle, the UK must stand in solidarity with the communities in the Global South whose lives are being ruined by the impacts of climate change. Progressio believes that this act of solidarity needs to happen immediately. In March, 40,000 people took to the
streets of London to call on the government to take action and commit to 100 per cent clean energy. In June, Progressio joined 9,000 people from more than 50 organisations at the climate lobby to reinforce the very same message. Now it is time for the UK Government to recognise climate change and environment as a global priority
The Pope acknowledged the importance of governmental support, but interestingly places most faith in the impact of a civil society movement
with strong public support, which is thought to be increasing further following Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on environment and climate change. The Pope acknowledged the importance of governmental support, but interestingly places most faith in the impact of a civil society movement. He called on every individual of all faiths and none, and asked them to make simple steps in their everyday lives in order to combat climate change. Small lifestyle changes that curb public consumerism and reduce emissions - such as turning oﬀ lights, using public
Progressio supporters ensure climate is on MPs’ agenda Photo: Progressio transport, recycling or buying products with less packaging - could hugely limit climate change. The Pope also drew on his personal experience of the developing world to place a strong emphasis on the disproportional eﬀect of environmental change on the poor, and called out to ‘powerful countries’ like the UK to take the lead in the ﬁght for sustainable environments. Progressio’s International Citizen Service (ICS) allows young people to volunteer overseas with its local partner organisations in the Global South, to stand alongside poor and marginalised communities as they work to protect our climate. Progressio ICS volunteer Victoria Poku-Amanfo attended the climate lobby to speak to her MP and express her concerns for the impact of climate change
on the Nuevo Gualcho community in El Salvador. She said: “Rural women were hugely inspirational to me during my ICS placement, but climate change forces them to work long hours in higher temperatures, which has a signiﬁcant impact on women’s health and agriculture in El Salvador.” Roisin McGovern-Booth, another young volunteer in El Salvador, highlighted how Progressio ICS volunteers and local people can successfully work together to develop more sustainable ways to manage natural resources and habitat. Echoing Pope Francis’ message, Roisin highlighted how change can be created by the little daily actions of individuals and grassroots organisations: “It is encouraging to see many of the green
success stories coming from developing countries. Local ventures, such as the project I completed in El Salvador, prove that a green strategy is not limited to a political or government scheme but can originate wherever there is guidance and vision,” she said. “Our project focused on eco-construction and waste management, alongside the development of a local eco-tourism industry. “Eco-construction turns waste into a resource and creates a solution to waste management, by turning old habits of littering into a new reality of purposeful recycling. “Our project was not just a volunteer project. We were part of something much bigger. We were part of change, a movement towards a sustainable and greener future for Santa Marta. >>>40 JUSTICE MAGAZINE 39
Feature: Climate change
Climate change activists express their thougts on canvas Photo: Progressio “Progressio’s work is always centred on people powered development and eco-construction is a perfect example of this. It is self-sufficient and empowering, giving the people of Santa Marta the opportunity to transform their lives without dependency upon government or NGO schemes. Nature works in cycles, and so should we, using old materials to create new, inspiring, green spaces. Our ambitions and our daily needs can be met with a long-term vision for a healthy and happy future. One planet, one vision: green.” The work of grassroots organisations and volunteers like Victoria and Roisin 40 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
is essential in the ﬁght to protect our climate, but the battle is to be won, it is necessary to get politicians to take immediate leadership on climate action. The Climate Coalition’s Lobby in Westminster provided many people with the opportunity to inﬂuence governmental decisions, and discuss environmental issues. Throughout the day, people of all faiths and none were invited to express their thoughts on climate change on a large heart-shaped canvas in Archbishop’s Park, created by artist Scott Walker. The colourful wall installation gave people from a diverse range of faith
backgrounds the chance to express their love of God’s creation and their desire to see it protected for future generations. Featuring a rich overlapping of tree branches, the design of Walker’s art installation recreated a natural forest scene in an urban environment, and was sprinkled with delicate mandala designs to give the canvas a spiritual element. Walker believes it is important for people to contribute to and learn from one another’s creative work. As a result of this approach, people of diﬀerent ages, faiths and backgrounds were able to come together to express themselves on Walker’s installation, enabling them
number of MPs, many of which supported urgent action on climate change in the UK. Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, hoped for strong outcomes on climate change at the Paris conference and was keen to listen to public concerns, oﬀering follow up meetings to all of his constituents who were present on the day. Speciﬁcally, Coyle committed to improving air pollution and public transport around Elephant and Castle, which is one of the most polluted areas in the UK, and he also supported divestment from fossil fuels. One of Coyle’s constituents, Progressio supporter Evan John worked with a Christian development organisation alongside local churches in Tanzania last summer.
to recognise their common values, their mutual love for the environment and appreciation of all living things. For many young supporters, this was their ﬁrst experience of lobbying their MP. Scott Walker made an important point with regards to this: “Politicians hardly ever visit schools,” he said. “Children need to know who they lobby against and how to put their views forward. That’s where politicians and councillors should be, teaching children how they can make change.” This lobby provided Progressio supporters with an opportunity to speak to a
We’re building a movement for action, a movement for justice for those impacted by climate change
He told Progressio why climate change was a priority for him: “My church showed me that people in the Global South live in much worse situations than me, and I felt a moral obligation to try to rectify that. Climate change is a huge threat to people living in poverty. We need to stand up for those who can’t have their voices heard, and who have the least ability to defend themselves against climate chaos.” Eleanor Laing, Conservative MP for Epping Forest, reassured constituents that the current government would take immediate action against climate change. Laing was certain that David Cameron would work hard for a global deal in Paris, and said she wants the UK Government to lead international negotiations on climate change: “We have a responsibility to do more in the international ﬁeld,” she said. However, this statement came less than 24 hours before the Conservatives announced that cuts to wind farm subsidies were brought forward by a year. Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, was committed to meeting the UK’s obligations to cutting emissions, but supports the government’s actions to limit onshore wind
development. He thinks future energy will require 25% nuclear power, and a mixture of oil and gas with increasing levels of renewable methods. He said that he was optimistic about carbon capture technology and the tidal lagoon approach being trialled in Swansea. The day ﬁnished with a successful rally outside Parliament, with many inspiring speakers sharing their love for the planet and for people. Supporter Evan John was pleasantly struck by the diversity of the event: “Seeing Progressio join together with such a large variety of organisations like Surfers Against Sewage, Friends of the Earth, CAFOD, Tearfund and a number of other faith organisations - that’s been really encouraging to see that so many diﬀerent people care about climate change.” During the rally, Asad Rehman, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth, highlighted the importance of such a varied audience working together in order to maintain momentum in the run up to Paris: “We’re building a movement for action, a movement for justice for those impacted by climate change. We not only need to defeat injustice, but together we need to build a cleaner, a peaceful, a more sustainable, and a more equitable world.” The response from many MPs was positive. Most agreed that climate change does require immediate action from the UK government, but the steps they will take to guarantee change still remains to be seen. Progressio supporters hope that Cameron pays attention to the concerns of his MPs and their constituents, and has the courage to act boldly and make an ambitious commitment to tackling climate change in December, despite being in a time of continued economic austerity and in the face of ongoing global challenges. The Paris conference gives the UK an opportunity to take a strong stand against climate change. It is the perfect moment to lead the global community down a greener path in order to protect our planet and its poorest people. One immediate positive outcome of the climate lobby was the union of such a large, varied group of people and organisations to stand together with one common purpose: to speak up for the love of our planet and for all of its people. JM To read more about Progressio’s work or to make a donation, please visit www.progressio.org.uk JUSTICE MAGAZINE 41
The newly-elected British Government should take a look at problems with the country’s democratic system before lecturing the trade unions, argues Paul Donovan.
British democracy: Unfit for purpose? One of the ﬁrst moves made by the newly-elected Conservative government was to announce more restrictions on the operations of trade unions. The proposals will force unions representing members in essential public services to obtain 40 per cent of those eligible to vote on a minimum 50 per cent turn out of all the workers. The move is made all the more audacious, given that the government itself was only elected by 24 per cent of the 46 million people eligible to vote back in May this year. Indeed, the moves to outlaw strikes have focused attention on the undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of the electoral system as it now operates. The last election saw smaller parties like UKIP (12.6 per cent) and the Greens (3.8 per cent) take a combined total of 5 million (16.1 per cent) of the votes, yet receive just one seat each. The Conservatives took 36.9 per cent of the total votes cast (11,334,576). The SNP took 56 seats but only stood in Scotland, thereby gaining a disproportionate say on the aﬀairs of the whole UK. Interesting also to remember in terms of the future - as the Tories’ majority shrinks away and they become dependent on others - that the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland has eight seats on the back of 190,000 votes.
Close up to Big Ben Photo: UK Parliament The question of the overall democratic deﬁcit is underlined by the fact that on a 66.6 per cent turnout, one in three people did not vote at all. Since the election result there have been growing calls from across the spectrum for electoral reform. The need for change has been on the agenda for some years, the closest the country ever came was when there was a referendum in 2011 on the possibility of replacing ﬁrst past the post with the
WHAT DOES THE COMPENDIUM SAY... ABOUT ELECTIONS?
In the democratic system, political authority is accountable to the people. Representative bodies must be subjected to eﬀective social control. This control can be carried out above all in free elections which allow the selection and change of representatives. The obligation on the part of those elected to give an accounting of their work - which is guaranteed by respecting electoral terms - is a constitutive element of democratic representation. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 42 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Alternative Vote (AV) – a form of proportional representation. The AV system proposed required the winning candidate to have more than 50 per cent of the vote. If on the initial count this was not the case then the second preference votes of the bottom candidate were allocated. This process continued until one candidate had 50 per cent of the vote. The idea though was soundly rejected in the 2011 referendum. The more radical version of proportional representation would see the number of votes a party receives nationally reﬂected in the number of seats it ﬁnishes up with in Parliament. Under a PR system, the results of the last election would have seen the Conservatives with 240 rather than 331 seats and Labour 198 instead of 232 seats. The smaller parties would have profited, with UKIP getting 81 seats for its 3.8 million votes rather than the present
Prime Minister David Cameron Photo: Number 10 one. The Greens would have got 32 seats instead of the one they have now. The Liberal Democrats would have 51 seats instead of 8. The nationalist parties would have faired slightly worse, with the SNP taking 47 as opposed to 56 seats for its 1.45 million votes in Scotland. One of the concerns over the introduction of PR is that it would not provide the stable (if often unrepresentative) form of government that ﬁrst past the post does.
Moves to outlaw strikes have focused attention on the undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of the electoral system as it now operates
Coalitions would become more commonplace. Given that such coalitions would likely be made up of more than two parties, the basis for instability is obvious. A little more crystal ball gazing in terms of the result from the last election – had it been on PR lines – certainly gives some food for thought. The Conservatives would have to combine with UKIP and one of the other smaller
parties – probably the Liberal Democrats - to get the 326 seats required to form a government. Labour would likely have had to put together a coalition involving the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens. One of the democratic failings of PR is that it can cut the relationship between constituents and their individual MP. Some PR elections are held in multiple member districts. There are two main forms of PR – party list PR and the single transferable vote (STV). Under the list system, the parties put forward candidates with the electorate voting by party. The number of representatives emerging is then allocated according to the percentage of the vote that each party attains. The weakness of this system is that it totally destroys the link between the MP and his or her constituents. It gives almost total power to the party machines to decide who the representatives are for a particular area. The opportunities for patronage and abuse are obvious. The STV is a bit like AV, allowing the preferences of an eliminated candidate to be transferred to the others, until the winner or winners reach the threshold set to get elected. Mixed member proportional representation (MMP), also known as the additional member system (AMS), is a hybrid allowing one winner on the largest take of the vote with the balance being made up via the list system. The voter has two
votes, one for the individual and another for the party list. This system preserves to some degree the individual link between MP and constituents. The AMS form has been used in the London, Welsh and Scottish assembly elections.The list system of PR is used in elections to the European Parliament, with parties putting forward candidates in order of preference. They are then elected according to the overall vote for the party in that regional area. It is perhaps a sobering thought to remember that in the European elections last year UKIP came out as the largest party with 24 seats, compared to 20 for Labour and 19 for the Conservatives. Something certainly has to change, with parties winning four million votes and only getting one seat in return, whilst one in every three people don’t vote at all. Recent elections have shown growing support for the smaller parties , so the ﬁrst past the post system that favoured the two party system is becoming increasingly unﬁt for purpose. The way forward would seem to dictate a need to move to a more proportional form of representation, though this will only make up part of what is required if the democratic deﬁcit is to be ﬁlled in the UK. JM Paul Donovan is a freelance journalist. Visit www.paulfdonovan.blogspot.com JUSTICE MAGAZINE 43
A project by American agency Catholic Relief Services is giving people a helping hand in caring for their children reports Rebekha Kates Lemke.
Ways to help mums thrive In Nyanza near Lake Victoria in western Kenya, ﬁshing is a way of life. The men leave early in the morning to earn money for their families. The women are left at home with multiple household responsibilities and with very little support. It’s a social structure that can be isolating and have a profound eﬀect on women’s health. The impact on women also trickles down to the children and can have long-lasting consequences. Catholic Relief Services’ THRIVE programme works in Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya. With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the program strengthens early childhood development- a child’s physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development from before birth up to age 8. Research and experience has shown that vulnerable children who beneﬁt from quality development services are healthier, more ready to learn, less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, and - later in life - more likely to earn a greater income. The THRIVE project helps ensure that children - who are, because of poverty and HIV, particularly at risk during this critical period - receive high quality services and support, and are therefore able to reach their potential. THRIVE helps ensure that children have proper health and nutrition, stable and responsive relationships, and a safe and stimulating physical environment. Children can succeed more easily when their mums and dads do too. CRS has been teaching positive parenting skills to the people who are closest to the children. Parents learn how to interact and form bonds with their children. In Kenya, CRS screened 457 new mothers. Of those, 301 mothers - or more than 65 per cent - were found to be depressed. The team was surprised by the ﬁndings. The depression found in Nyanza was 44 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
not the typical post-partum depression, but related more to the economic and social situation in the community. Through small groups, Kenyan mothers interact with peers in their community, developing a broader network of support. These women may work together on farming and raising small livestock to improve their economic outlook. The mothers in Nyanza deal with many risk factors. Many are poor, infected with HIV and don’t have a social support system. In addition, they are dealing with a new baby. The men work away from the home and the women are taking care of many of the other responsibilities that come with having a family: getting food and water for the daily needs, cooking, cleaning, child care, etc.
Parenthood is not easy, and no one anywhere in the world is an expert in parenting. We can all improve
Under the THRIVE programme, CRS is making sure mums are not forgotten. A World Development Report and other studies suggest happy and healthy mothers lead to strong children. CRS is organising these Kenyan mothers into support groups. Mums interact with peers in their community, develop a broader network of support and build relationships with people who understand daily life in Nyanza. These women work together, farming and raising small livestock to improve their economic outlook. Mums also receive home visits and are taught skills for interacting with
their children and families. After talking with mums and learning the large role that husbands and mothers-in-law were playing in their depression, the project hosted meetings with the extended family to help foster discussions about household responsibilities and working as a cohesive and supportive unit. Those meetings often lead to brainstorming sessions on how to alleviate some of the mom’s stress, while making sure all members in the household feel involved. Mums are also encouraged to expand their economic power. Some are given seeds to create kitchen gardens. The vegetables from those gardens can provide nourishment and money for their families. Women in the support groups receive chickens and goats if they build the housing structures for the animals. CRS helps mothers get farming assistance from agricultural extension agents. This help can prove invaluable in protecting potential food and economic sources from hippopotamus attacks and drought. Finally, under this programme, mums are taught appropriate hygiene and waste management practices. Many of these mums are HIV positive or are directly aﬀected by it and face several health challenges. They are supported and encouraged to take charge of their own health, as well as their families.’ “Parenthood is not easy, and no one anywhere in the world is an expert in parenting. We can all improve,” says Dr Shannon Senefeld, licensed clinical psychologist, specialising in children and families and CRS director of Programme Impact and Quality Assurance. Through many diﬀerent programmes all over the globe, CRS works with parents on their journey to help their children reach their full potential. “Without a facility, without followup care, knowing the baby is high-risk
A member of the Tumaini Support Group looks on during a regular weekly meeting of the group’s Savings and Internal Lending Community - SILC. Photo: David Snyder because of HIV, [parenthood] is overwhelming,” says Dr Senefeld. Through this part of THRIVE, the goal is to help new mums realise their own potential, while providing for their children. The mums in Nyanza are strong and integral to their communities. It is important that all aspects of their health are satisﬁed, including mental health. These Kenyan mothers are already providing care and support for their children, but CRS can oﬀer additional
guidance. CRS’ goal is to build upon their strengths. In this programme, CRS teaches new mums approaches to attachment and bonding with their babies and to recognise responses from their little ones. Maternal health and wellbeing is not a new concept, but CRS has brought new emphasis to nurturing good mental health for mothers in communities where early childhood development work exists.
The goal is to capitalise on the strengths of the community and let mums in Nyanza - and all over the world - know they can help their children reach their full potential. “No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You do the best you can do. If you are looking out for your children, you are a good mum. “If you are worrying, you are OK. Don’t beat yourself up for all of the small stuﬀ,” Dr Senefeld says. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 45
Resources for schools to introduce children to shipping and the lives of seafarers Written by teachers and produced by the seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), in association with Ten Ten Theatre, the resources are aimed at KS2 and KS3 students. The downloadable resources include lesson plans and assemblies that are both easy to use and engaging for students. Powerpoints and teacher guidance notes are included. Each lesson follows a simple structure and includes clear objectives and learning outcomes. It has been designed around the national curriculum and gives students the opportunity to learn about the world of shipping and seafarers and how the Apostleship of the Sea is helping to support seafarers worldwide. ‘The subject of the sea and the lives of seafarers touches many aspects of the national curriculum and is a fundamental part of this country’s heritage. These attractive and engaging resources, written by teachers, will capture the excitement of the sea and the lives of seafarers, a world that is often so close to children from seaside trips and ferry crossings, but relatively unknown to them.’ John Green, AoS Director of Development The resources were produced in association with Ten Ten Theatre. Ten Ten aim to communicate the richness of the Church’s experience in human relationships and engaging with the modern world.
To download these resources visit www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/resources-schools
Supporting Seafarers for 90 years
Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) is a frontline service for the care of seafarers visiting British shores. It is more important than ever for us to continue our valuable work. Please help us do this. AoS is an independent charitable agency of the Catholic Church wholly dependent on voluntary donations and the annual Sea Sunday appeal to continue its work.
Please remember us and give generously.
For more information on AoS and to donate please visit www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk
Registered Charity No: 1069833 98 833 3 Company C mpa Co p ny Registration: R tr 3320318
The Providence Row team with Dominic Gates on the right Photo: Providence Row
Clients of a homeless charity in East London often get their lives back on track by volunteering for the very charity that’s helping them, writes Dominic Gates.
The power of giving something back For more than 150 years, the charity Providence Row has helped support homeless people in East London, by giving them access to the resources they need to get through the day, primarily food. Today Providence Row still ensures its clients get a hot breakfast and lunch every morning and lunchtime, but now food is being used by the centre in a different way. The menus are now created and executed by its clients too, as part of its award-winning catering trainee scheme. Unlike other schemes, Providence Row welcomes clients who are currently rough sleeping, or are aﬀected by mental health or substance misuse problems. 48 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
They more often than not have experienced signiﬁcant and multiple disadvantages in their lives. They may have suﬀered abuse, relationship breakdowns, loss and addictions. They may have been the victim of crime, or have been in prison themselves. In some cases they may have even escaped war and persecution overseas. Some may have worked before in senior roles; some may be new to the job market. All of them, no matter what their history or their problems, have one thing in common. They want to work. They want to change their lives. Providence Row believes that training and learning should not only be open
to those who have recovered, but to those who are recovering. In fact, taking part in an activity like this can become an integral part of someone’s recovery. They are changing their lives by building something new for themselves; skills, knowledge and conﬁdence. Providence Row’s employment and training schemes gives its clients the chance to get active and create something, in some cases literally by cooking meals for the other clients, or helping to build a garden which grows fruit and veg for the kitchen. In other cases it’s creating their new CV, gaining work experience and a repertoire of skills and techniques to help get them back into work.
Volunteers in action Photo: Providence Row More than half of the trainees go onto further education, work experience and paid employment. For a training scheme like Providence Row’s, these results are fantastic. The charity takes the time to understand clients’ problems and what may have held them back in the past. And also takes the time to understand what they need to succeed. Providence Row oﬀers them a ‘personalised’ service and one key aspect of this is ﬂexibility. Some clients can complete the scheme in weeks but some may need to stay on it for several months. Some clients may need extra support from the charity’s key workers for housing and beneﬁts issues, or for mental health and substance misuse problems. The fact they can access these onsite is incredibly helpful and can make all the diﬀerence. Another reason for the success of the scheme is something called the power of the ‘other side of the counter’. Something clients have said time and time again is that by contributing to the charity’s services, through making the meals or planting the plants in the garden, they are helping to support others. They see and feel how much they are helping people in sometimes particularly difficult or distressing circumstances on the streets. This feeling is powerful.
The trainees themselves also become an inspiration to others. The kitchen is a place of warmth and camaraderie. Other clients are attracted to the scheme when they see how much the trainees enjoy their work as well as how much they develop and grow during their time with Providence Row. They’re seeing people’s recovery in action. Providence Row’s employability skills training programme ‘Working On It’
Other clients are attracted to the scheme when they see how much the trainees enjoy their work
works alongside the training scheme to help clients build their intervies skills, knowledge on topics like customer service and communication as well as practically support with CVs, job applications and interview techniques. The scheme is delivered at Providence Row, or with one of the corporate partners and the feedback from clients about these sessions has been excellent. Despite the huge challenges that face
them, each and every client has a raft of valuable skills, knowledge and experience they can share. That’s why Providence Row’s learning and training scheme are often a turning point in their lives, reawakening their conﬁdence, involving them in teamwork and reminding them of what they can do, rather than what they can’t, and with the support they are entitled to. To ﬁnd out more about the work that Providence Row does with helping some of east London’s most vulnerable people, please visit www.providencerow.org.uk. If you would like to help support these services with a charitable donation, please donate online at www. providencerow.org.uk/donate or send a cheque made out to Providence Row to The Dellow Centre, 82 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7SA. Please quote ‘JUSTICE’ when donating online or on the back of the cheque. If you have seen a person sleeping rough on the streets, you can contact Streetlink by visiting www.streetlink.org. uk or call 0300 500 0914. Streetlink helps you connect people who sleep rough with the local support they need to get oﬀ the streets for good. JM Dominic Gates is employment and training manager at Providence Row JUSTICE MAGAZINE 49
Feature: Church shooting
After a gunman took the lives of churchgoers in South Carolina in June, Fr John Dear says the campaign for non-violence must go on in their memory.
Tears for Charleston’s dead, but a vow to carry on Like millions of others, I grieved the death of the nine church folk killed in the unthinkable massacre inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in June. My heart went out to the families and friends of the dead, and the church members. I’ve spent countless evenings like that with small groups in churches, but I can’t imagine someone pulling out a gun and killing everyone. I’ve also met thousands of sweet church people like the librarian Cynthia Hurd, the coach Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the church custodian Ethel Lance and 87-year-old regular churchgoer Susie Jackson. I’m heartbroken over their suffering and loss. But I wept in particular over the death of Rev Clementa Pinckney. What a good pastor, what a great community leader, what a rare Christian visionary! He did so much good in his 41 years, such as speaking out prophetically, loudly and clearly in recent months against police brutality and systemic racism. He exempliﬁes the best of the Christian community in the US. His death is such a loss, but I give thanks for his beautiful life and example. People like this great man inspire me to work for justice and peace as a church person. Of course, this was a hate crime, an act of violent racism and domestic terrorism. Press reports claim that the insane young man who shot the church goers had just been given a gun by his father for his 21st birthday. No doubt he was a sociopath, an advocate of hatred and racism, a white supremacist, the normal product of our culture of guns, hatred, racism, violence and war. Like millions of others, I feel swept 50 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
up in grief. Where does one start? The police killings of African Americans such as Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott (of South Carolina, in April) - these are just the well known names. Thousands have been killed. And the big massacres such as Virginia Tech college students, the Sandy Hook elementary school children, the Boston marathon runners and bystanders, and the Aurora, Colorado movie goers. One could go on.
This was a hate crime, an act of violent racism and domestic terrorism
But my grief mingles with the grief of the world, the quiet death of millions of children from extreme poverty and unnecessary disease, and the deliberate killing of children by the US war machine. Not too long ago, I spent days listening to teenagers in Kabul, Afghanistan, cry as they told me in detail how their loved ones were blown up by US drones which dropped bombs upon them. I remember visiting the Catholic high school for girls in Baghdad and being surrounded by hundreds of girls who cried as they denounced the US bombings and war. I recall the hundreds of people I met in the 1980s in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala who wept as they told me about the killing of their loved ones by US-backed death squads. I have witnessed the tears of grief brought on by the forces of death as well in India,
South Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Colombia, Northern Ireland, and the Philippines. For me, like all my activist friends, it is a lifetime of grief in solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world whose loved ones died by the systemic forces of greed, war, violence and death. That’s why I see beyond the sickness of hatred, racism and sexism toward something deeper - an addiction to violence to death itself - that inﬂicts nearly every living human being to some degree, an addiction which fuels the unjust national and global systems which bring death to so many poor people. It’s like everyone, especially us North Americans, is addicted to crack cocaine, yet we don’t know it, much less try to become sober. We’re all full of violence, and we go forward, not knowing what to do. So we maintain a culture of violence, torture, war and nuclear weapons as if that’s a perfect reasonable way to maintain a society. It’s as if we’re all living in a zombie movie. Consider the hundreds of devout Christians who attend prayer services, bible studies and Catholic masses at the Pentagon, and then go about the big business of mass murder. Or the thousands of devout Christians who attend church each Sunday in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and then spend the rest of the week devoutly building nuclear weapons. Think of the Jesuits of Baltimore who hold an annual Mass for War, who process their one hundred ROTC graduates up the main aisle at graduation mass to profess their Army Oath to Kill to the Blessed Sacrament, just as the Nazis did long ago. Think of our brilliant, Nobel laureate president who sips his coﬀee every
Flowers for the victims of the Charleston shootingn Photo: Matt Drobnik Tuesday morning while mulling over his assassination list, deciding who to kill and who to let live. Our desire to execute the young Boston Marathon murderer is a sign of a common addiction. I presume there will be a rush to execute the Charleston church murderer. In doing so, we reveal our own adolescent sociopathic tendencies. Our support of the death penalty is a measure of our humanity. We are all addicted to violence in one form or another. We have all surrendered to sociopathic killing in one form or another. We have refused the wisdom, the divine call, the spiritual heights of universal, loving non-violence. But that is the only option ahead of us. The real challenge before us, I submit, was laid down long ago by our national teacher, Rev Martin Luther King, Jr. He invites each one of us to undergo the journey he went through toward active nonviolence. We have to renounce the ancient stupidity of “an eye for an eye thinking” (which Jesus outlawed when
he commanded in the Sermon on the Mount, “But I say, oﬀer no violent resistance to one who does evil”) and take up where Gandhi left oﬀ in his pursuit of truth and nonviolence. Like Dr. King, each one of us has to learn the wisdom of nonviolence. We have to consciously choose to renounce violence, to stop supporting the culture of violence and to become a person of active, creative nonviolence. That means each one of us ”whether we are white supremacists or nuclear weapons manufactuers or members of the US military or rich corporate businessmen or the warmaking president or ordinary Americans” needs to wake up and embark on a new journey toward universal peace. I think violence starts when we forget who we are - when we forget that we are human beings, sisters and brothers of one another, if you like, children of the God of peace. Once you forgot that, or ignore it, or refuse to learn what it means to be a human being, you have no meaning in your
life. You can hurt others, even kill others, even support mass murder in warfare. You have become a sociopath and you do not even know it. You have no empathy, and without empathy, you cannot grow in compassion, understanding, or love. Non-violence, on the other hand, requires remembering every day for the rest of your life who you are - a human being, a peacemaker, a child of the God of peace, a sister or brother of every other living human being on earth, a creature at one with all creatures and creation itself. Once you remember who you are, you realise who everyone else is - your beloved sister or brother - and therefore you could never hurt or kill anyone, much less own a gun, join the military, support war, build nuclear weapons, or have anything to do with the culture of violence. While I’m tempted to give in to grief and despair, I know that is not the way of creative non-violence which Martin Luther King, Jr. taught, or Jesus commanded, or Clementa Pinckney lived. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 51
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Published on Jul 31, 2015
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