December 25, 2016

Pete HaackJustice Matters0 Comments

An interfaith network working for justice in Lawrence

Pope Francis calls for a 4th World Meeting of Popular Movements to be held in the United States

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development along with the PICO National Network and the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace have announced a World Meeting to be held in Modesto, CA in February, 2017. It is part of an initiative begun by Pope Francis and the Pontifical Council known as the World Meeting of Popular Movements.

The event in Modesto being planned now will be the 4th World Meeting in a series of meetings organized by the Pontifical Council. Previous meetings have been held in Italy and Bolivia in South America. The other meetings have all been international events and this will mark the Council’s first effort at organizing a national meeting. There will however be international delegates but the majority of groups, organizations, cooperatives, and movements invited will all be from the United States.

The goals for this meeting are three:

  • Deepen solidarity between & among US and international social justice organizers/movements
  • Equip & inspire grassroots leaders to organize for structural changes that promote racial & economic justice
  • Deepen solidarity between the US Catholic Church & social justice movements

The meeting itself will focus upon the “Economy of Exclusion” which Pope Francis has spoken about frequently since assuming the role as head of the Catholic Church. In particular, the World Meetings thus far have zeroed in on how this Economy of Exclusion pushes people to the periphery of public life and excludes them from the wealth being generated by the system. They have focused on how those who are excluded are impacted around three particular areas: Land, Labor and Lodging (housing).

This World Meeting, because it is in the United States, will also add Immigration, the Environment, and Racial Justice as areas of focus.

A board range of community organizing, labor organizing and Immigrant led groups will come together along with groups working on housing issues, environmental issues and issues of racial justice. Participants will hear from both the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, and Pope Francis (via skype) and hope to be able to engage the Holy Father in dialogue around concerns raised by the group. The Catholic Bishops of the United States haves been invited to participate.

Pope Francis has stressed in his public discourse the need for “encounter” – that the Church should reach out to encounter those excluded from power in our societies and living on the periphery. Also, communities who have been excluded should reach out to each other to develop new relationships and a deeper level of solidarity in order to take on the huge challenges facing our planet, not the least of which is shared specter of Global warming which threatens us all. Hopefully, this, “Spirit of Encounter” will inspire us to seek new ways of working together and new visions of shared future.

Note: Grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development help fund new community justice ministries such as Justice Matters in the early years of formation.

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