In 2013, Pope Francis released his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The Pope invited the Church to share the joy of the Gospel with renewed vigour. He encouraged us to step out of the comfort of the four walls of our church buildings and to immerse ourselves in the life of the world:
Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel. (EG n 20)
An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. (EG n 24)
Members of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane took those words to heart. The Commission Members began to step out into the community to meet with people on the margins of society, and to hear from them directly about their experience of injustice and exclusion, and the changes they wanted to see to overcome the injustices that they faced. Commission members also listened to marginalised people’s expectations of those who want to support and accompany them in their pursuit of justice.
After several years of embracing this culture of encounter, the Commission saw the need to spend some time in reflection on its experience. The Commission invited Dr Sandie Cornish from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace to facilitate a time of reflection, prayer and discernment. From these conversations an understanding emerged that Catholic social and environmental action has a distinctive character.
After reflecting together on our work for social and ecological justice and peace for more than a year, we discerned five pastoral themes that emerged from our theological reflection. They sum up some of the key things that we have learnt from our experience, and from prayerful reflection on this experience.
The Signs of Our Times project is a partnership between the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace. It will share the fruit of our prayerful reflection on experience. We invite you to join us in sharing your reflection on the experience of acting for justice, ecology and peace through this project too.
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
Peter Arndt (Executive Officer)
Maree Rose (Chair)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace