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Launch of the Centre for Theology and Justice – Connecting faith and action

“We are all on a journey with God towards a vision of God’s kingdom of justice, of shalom. The Centre for Theology and Justice seeks to respond to the questions we encounter on that journey. We do not journey alone, we journey together, sharing ideas, resources and engaging in theological reflection.”

With those words, Clare McBeath introduced the Centre to a packed chapel at Luther King House. Over recent years, various collaborations between Christian Aid, Church Action on Poverty, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Luther King House led to the formation of the Centre. The Centre is a space and an opporunity for sharing reflections, resources and actions.

Representatives of those organisations symbolically signed the partnership agreement on which the Centre is based. In order to extend the network, the Centre is welcoming associate partners.

Following the formal launch of the Centre, Father Augusto Zampini gave the first David Goodbourn lecture on “Is justice enough? A radical Christian response to humanitarian and ecological crisis”. The lecture was chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker.

Father Augusto challenged the gathering not to start a discussion on justice with theory but begin with the real experiences of injustice. While we discuss the nature of a just society, people are starving. Drawing on the concerns of Pope Francis, he focussed on the environment, arguing that we cannot separate environmental justice from social justice in our thinking. Stewardship should imply care rather than domination – care for our common home. We need to find common solutions for issues such as; pollution; loss of biodiversity and cultural diversity; water resources; quality of human life; rapidification. The latter being the experience of many of us as the increasing speed of life overwhelms us. He quoted Patriarch Bartholomew who has called Christians to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity and waste with a spirit of sharing.

We have to allow ourselves to be touched by what we see. However, what we see is not enough. We have to go to the root causes of injustice and make a proper diagnosis. Analysing our situation helps us see that a pragmatic theological paradigm, the myth of perennial progress, the globalisation of indifference, the lack of political will and a throw-away culture all relate to injustice. We have to have an integral ecology, integrating human development with the care for the environment. An holistic understanding of being gives us an holistic understanding of justice. We need to integrate our relationship with God, with ourselves, with other, with society and with creation.

From the Christian tradition, we can take an understanding of persons as compassionate individuals acting socially in solidarity, an integral understanding of development from below based on participation and a spirituality which integrates faith and worship with peace and justice. The educational challenge is to produce a change of mindset that can give us a new understanding of relationships with others and with nature, a culture of love and care – a cultural revolution, a conversion. Our religious narratives can inspire people to promote justice. We have a message of hope about the care of our common home. Churches need to give concrete signs of our integral ecology.

Simon Oxley – Facilitator for the Centre of Theology and Justice

A video of the whole lecture can be found here.