Inspirational National Justice and Peace Conference

Maureen, Rita and Anne at the NJPN Conference 2015

Maureen, Rita and Anne at the NJPN Conference 2015

Last week, CAFOD volunteers and Justice and Peace activists Maureen Thompson, Rita Belletty and Anne Dodd joined around 250 people at the National Justice and Peace Annual Conference which was entitled “Things that Make for Peace“.

Maureen, (who as well as being a CAFOD volunteer is also the Portsmouth Diocesan Justice and Peace representative) told us;

“I was not sure what to expect, I found plenty of friends, families, prayer and joy of the Gospel as well as a packed weekend of talks guided my Pat Gaffney from Pax Christi to think about peacemaking globally, in our communities and our homes. I met up with Rita Belletty from Woodley and Anne Dodd from Abingdon and we are all very keen to share some of what we heard. Perhaps next year a few more people from the Diocese will join in, there were great events for children and young people too.

“The prayer, the speakers and the just market were all filled with ideas, big and small,  of how each of us is called to action.    The chain in the photo represents all the individual promises of the delegates to each make one action for peace.

Rita Belletty at the NJPN conference 2015

Rita Belletty at the NJPN conference 2015

“Professor Paul Rogers from Bradford University opened the conference by giving us a reflective overview of world development. His theory is that the world is currently at a crucial point of transition where we have to learn to live within the capacity of the resources of our planet and therefore if we seek a peaceful world something has to change. He highlighted:

1. Our economics – the current system is failing the gap between rich and poor is
widening greatly and this is leaving increasing numbers of people marginalised
and vulnerable.

2. Our attitude of looking for our security with military solutions alone, an attitude
he called “lidism” keeping a lid on problems like terrorism and migration through
closing borders and suppression without trying to tackle the underlying causes.

3. He sees the biggest threat to peace as the issue of climate change, as the devastation of more floods and bigger storms effect poor countries worst. Then more people will seek refuge, migration will grow even more and competition for resources may create even more conflict. Despite creating this picture of doom Professor Rogers managed to weave his story as one of hope, he feels there is the possibility to change. We can change our attitudes to money and support more mutual’s and cooperatives we can work together with our neighbours and need to encourage our political leaders to do the same.

“To learn more about this presentation there is an almost identical talk here.

Rebuilding Justice Campaigns Day July 2015 (2)“The next morning we were introduced to the very modest Fr Edu Gariguez from the
Philippines who was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2012 for voicing
protests on behalf of indigenous communities against large scale mining projects. He talked about his vocation as priest to live among the poor and how in serving the local church of Calapan in Oriendal Mindoro he worked to empower the indigenous people to speak up for their land. For where the central government was very keen to encourage mining for much needed investment Fr Edu took a different view that life was much more important, he explained that for the people their land was “life,” it provided all their needs they could not survive without it – To support this alternative world view to persuade the government Fr Edu became involved in looking at alternatives for more sustainable development, this is why he calls himself the “accidental environmental”

“This is a short summary of the main speakers. We also had workshops and a just fair to meet all sorts of individuals and groups doing big and small but amazing things.”

If you have been inspired, Maureen has now collected all sorts of contacts and resources to help with starting a parish, or ecumenical Justice and Peace group. If you would like some guidance on this please get in touch with her via jpsr@portsmouthdiocese.org

For more information on the National Justice and Peace Network please click here.

For more information on the Portsmouth Diocesan Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility team click here.

Sign our petition today, inspired by Laudato Si’  which calls on our Prime Minister and on other world leaders to take urgent action to prevent climate change pushing people deeper into poverty.

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