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Do Justice Campaign Launch of Caritas Social Action Network

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These are the opening and closing remarks of Raymond Friel OBE, CEO of Caritas Social Action Network:

CSAN is an agency of the Bishops Conference, and a member, along with CAFOD, of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s humanitarian and advocacy for social justice presence throughout the world, inspired by a vision for, “A just world, transformed to reflect God’s kingdom, where all people in our common home experience love, compassion and fullness of life.”

The focus for CSAN is England and Wales, but we’re a different model to the big NGO. We’re a small national team which runs CSAN as a member organisation – 54 diocesan and independent charities – all committed to tackling poverty and injustice and building up the Kingdom of God. Our role is to convene and animate that network, provide resources and programmes for leadership development and to raise our own prophetic voice for justice and compassion in the public arena.

I’m delighted to welcome our trustees: Bishop Paul Hendricks, Sir John Battle, Maria Blazquez, and Julia Corcoran; and Elizabeth Palmer from the SVP who sits on the board ex officio as Chair of our Leaders Alliance.

Thank you to CCLA for support, and welcome to Andrew Robinson who will be happy to tell you more about their rapidly growing Catholic Investment Fund.

Aims of Do Justice

Do Justice is not an election manifesto, this is longer and deeper than any election, but there will be material to follow on the election to come to supplement the very good material which are coming from other Catholic organisations. Nor is this a top-down campaign, with a sign up to specific asks, a campaign for specific change – again there is a pressing need for that, but we have something different in mind.

This campaign is a dynamic, collaborative grassroots movement to encourage and stimulate the work of justice in parishes, schools, charities and chaplaincies – an invitation again to see what’s going on around us, in our communities, what’s going on with people, especially people in situations of poverty, what light does the Gospel throw on what we see and what can we do – in our own place – to work with people in situations of poverty, to walk alongside people in solidarity, with compassion, working for justice, advocating for change.

This campaign aims to help to resource the Catholic and Christian communities for this work – to encourage us all to bring the language of the Gospel and the principles of CST into the public square. We have a different story to tell, a vision of the human person made in the image of God – made in love and for love – precious in the eyes of God, not disposable when no longer useful; we have a different story to tell about what it means to live together well in our common home, in peace and solidarity, not in a nightmare of warring tribes and gated interests.

Our Do Justice core text is a reminder of the core principles of CST, rooted in the Gospel – a resource we hope will be widely shared with your staff, volunteers, senior colleagues – a resource to support the formation and ongoing learning.

The two other resources available this evening are Do Justice for parishes – a three-session programme using the synodal method of Conversation in the Spirit to discern he needs of the community and Do Justice for schools, in collaboration with The Oscar Romero Award (Mugeni here), a resource to help schools embed CST in their leadership and governance, curriculum and social outreach. Both are available here.

More resources are on their way, worksheets which will appear on the Do Justice website – for example an intro to Catholic Social Teaching, a worksheet on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, on racial justice in collaboration with Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ), an Advocacy Handbook, a worksheet on homelessness, on the living wage, on poverty – we want to work in collaboration, so if you have any ideas for future resources, or want to co-produce a resource, please let us know

Our campaign aims to bring people together who are committed to the work of justice inspired by compassion to form learning communities – so that we can encourage each other and learn from each other. We see that already with the number of parishes signing up for Do Justice.

Our campaign finally aims to celebrate the work of the Catholic and Christian groups working for social justice – we want to do our bit to throw a light on the inspiring work going on every day in the CSAN network and wider Christian network, indeed among all people of goodwill. We’d like you to help us to highlight the good work going on across such a range of activity.

We want to work with other social action networks in the Catholic community, such as the National Justice and Peace Network and the Catholic Union. We want to work together with other Christian denominations such as our friends in the Church of England and the Joint Public Issues Team to raise a prophetic voice for justice in the public square.

If you’d like to find out more about the ‘symphony of compassion and justice’ which is the work of CSAN members, please visit: https://www.csan.org.uk/member/

If you’d like to get in touch with us with ideas for Do Justice, please contact us.

“It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality. And this is particularly true of the Church's social doctrine, the light of which is Truth, Justice its objective, and Love its driving force.”

“Whoever in obedience to Christ seeks first the Kingdom of God, takes therefrom a stronger and purer love for helping all his brothers and sisters and for perfecting the work of justice under the inspiration of charity.”

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