Church Action on Poverty is a partner in a conference next month exploring ‘the challenge of Pope Francis’. Our Communications Manager reflects on why the Sabbath is important – and invites you to join us.
Since becoming Pope, Francis’ words, actions and publications have challenged the Church worldwide in many ways. Our own Church of the Poor project responds directly to his wish to see “a poor church that is for the poor”.
So we were very pleased to be invited to support the National Justice and Peace Network’s conference this year, ‘A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor’. The conference is exploring ideas from Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home.
Laudato Si’ has a lot to say about the environment. But, building on the idea of the Common Good which is central to Catholic Social Teaching, it doesn’t just talk about climate change. Instead, Francis links the natural environment with ‘human ecology’, showing how concerns about poverty, climate change and other social justice issues go hand in hand.
Humans are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family
This vision is all about relationships. Francis describes the Earth as our “common home”, likening it to a sister or mother. When we harm the environment we damage this familial relationship – and also damage “our relationship with other humans, particularly those least equipped to defend themselves: the poor and future generations.” He warns that we are “forgetting our interconnectedness”; that humans are “linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family”.
The Sabbath sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor
Concern for the environment needs to be joined to a “sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society”, taking into account “the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged”. Francis explores what this means in concrete detail that resonates with our own campaigns and projects in the UK – for example, he stresses the value and dignity of work, with a call for better regulation of employers.
The conference title draws on a powerful strand of Laudato Si’, where Francis explores the importance of the Sabbath and the Eucharist in helping us to build and deepen our relationships with the world and other people. He says the Sabbath “sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor”.
We’re very much looking forward to being part of the conference alongside many other organisations. We’ll be offering a workshop exploring our work to tackle stigma and exclusion; and we’ve arranged a panel talk where members of the Poverty Truth Commissions in Leeds and Salford will tell their stories.
‘A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor’ will be a great event. Non-Catholics are welcome, and it includes a creche and youth activities so families can attend. Please come and join us if you can!
‘A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor’ is at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire from 21 to 23 July 2017. Click here to find out more and book your place.