Last weekend saw the 39th Annual National Justice and Peace Conference, entitled, ‘A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor: The Challenge of Pope Francis’. Included in the 260 attendees from most Dioceses across the country were three members of Clifton Diocese Justice and Peace Commission Sue Smailes, Sue Ingham and Bella Harding
Bella Harding, attending a NJPN Conference for the first time, said ‘This was a very exciting conference, full of urgent challenges to ‘properly receive’ the teaching of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and to an inner conversion and external action and campaigning. There were many good ideas, and encouragement to ‘find the glory in the grey’, to enjoy the little things and not divide nature from culture. God is in all things. A final comment was that it was not an era of change, but a change of era, when the music changes, then so does the dance. We must have an ear for the changes.’
The programme for the weekend was made up of talks from speakers: Dr Ruth Valerio of Tearfund, Fr Peter Hughes, a Columban priest who has worked in Latin America for five decades and Kathy Galloway, a former leader of both the Iona Community and Christian Aid Scotland. A range of workshops and ‘sabbath’ activities covered some of the challenges of working to tackle structural injustice and living more simply. There was also a panel organised by Church Action on Poverty from the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission which highlighted the suffering caused by poverty in Britain and the role of Church groups in building up support and hope.
Saturday evening saw a performance by the Christian theatre group, Rise, of “Romero – the Heartbeat of El Salvador” and during the conference Mass Archbishop Oscar Romero was adopted as NJPN’s patron.
Children at the conference produced a video ‘Can children and young people make a difference’. The answer was positive, and the youth group’s message to participants was : ’We all say we want to tackle poverty – you need to get out there and do it!’.
For a fuller report of the Conference please click here