Justice and peace commission turns its gaze overseas

AUCKLAND — Recruiting will start this month for a new working committee on peace and international justice issues, which will be part of Auckland diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission.
Bishop Patrick Dunn has given the green light for the commission’s sixth working committee; the five others focus on housing affordability, restorative justice and rehabilitation, human life issues, environment/sustainability and social welfare/anti-poverty.
Commission executive secretary Mary Betz said the new committee would have more of an international focus than the other five, which concern themselves primarily with New Zealand issues.
Although it is up to the new committee to decide on the areas it will address, possible issues it could work on include the situation of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the repression of freedoms in Fiji, the plight of the Palestinians in Israel and Indonesian activity in West Papua, Ms Betz said.
Some of this work would be in cooperation with bodies like Caritas or Pax Christi.
The commission’s working committees examine issues in the light of Catholic teaching, prepare and make submissions to local and national government, meet politicians and prepare liturgical and educational resources for parishes. They also alert parishes to particular justice issues and possible actions, using bulletins or parish social justice animators. The latter are nominated by their parishes to encourage justice awareness and activity in their local parishes. The commission is always on the look-out for more animators.
The working committees typically meet monthly and have about eight members. Members have to be approved by Bishop Dunn and the commission’s executive.
Chaired by Peter Garrick, the commission was reconvened in 2009. It helps the bishop promote the social teaching of the Church in the areas of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Its meetings are four times a year, including twice a year with working committee members and parish social justice animators. At past meetings, there have been speakers on welfare justice and the Treaty of Waitangi.
The last meeting of the commission and committees was in November.
The commission, Pax Christi and Caritas are jointly sponsoring a public gathering in March at which Claudette Habesch of Caritas Jerusalem will speak on the Palestinian situation. It will be at the St Columba Centre, Vermont St, Ponsonby at 5.30pm on March 8.
To find out more about the commission and its work, visit www.catholicjusticeauckland.org.nz

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Michael Otto

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