tisdag 22 maj 2012

What is the use of Catholic Justice & Peace?

The Bishop of Shrewsbury Diocese has just got rid of his Justice and Peace co-ordinator. Justice and Peace groups were a feature of the early 1990s. There was a J&P coordinator in the Arundel & Brighton Diocese where I lived in the early 1990s. He did quite a good job in getting parishes focussed on J&P issues. A J&P group was set up at St Mary Magdalen's and we studied the Catholic Social Teaching (CST). From that group came two vocations.

As we came to study it, CST itself proved to be a mixed bag. Rerum Novarum having been deficient, in particular in relation what it referred to confusingly as "property", further encyclicals were then issued subsequently in an attempt to fill the gaps. These culminated in the almost incomprehensible Centesimus Anno of 1991 which was not studied.

Rerum Novarum did great damage in emasculating the Catholic working class movements for social justice at the end of the nineteenth century and helped open up the way for the spread of both worldwide Marxist movements and worldwide fascism as a counter-reaction.

See here which describes the shameful instance of the excommunication and eventual reinstatement of a priest, Fr McGlynn, in the Diocese of New York. There was a similar incident in Britain in which the Catholic intellectual Wilfrid Meynell was quietly sidelined, and possibly also Cardinal Manning - this needs to be investigated even now. Indeed, it may have a bearing on why he has not been put on the canonisation track when logically Manning is as strong a candidate as Newman and the two belong together.

The latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate of 2009 provides the opportunity for a fresh start and lay people should be studying it, though whether it needs J&P co-ordinators to encourage them is another matter.

In my experience, J&P has tended to promote fashionable liberal ideals and socialist palliatives rather than getting to grips with issues at their root. This too, however, is due, I would suggest, the the weakness of the official church documents and statements, which fail to provide guidance and leadership.

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