Reflect and share on God’s love this Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2020
6th Sunday in OT (A)
February 14, 2020

Building a just society

By Leela Ramdeen

Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

The theme of CCSJ’s Panel Discussion on Tuesday, February 18 to mark World Day of Social Justice, February 20 is: Developing our capacity to build a just society. Entry is free. Join us from 5 to 7 p.m., Our Lady of Fatima RC Church Hall, Bushe St, Curepe, to participate in the discussion.

The following distinguished speakers will assist us in identifying some of the strategies that we can employ to build a just society:

  • Madam Justice Donna Prowell-Raphael, Chair/Judge of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal
  • Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Dean, Faculty of Law, UWI, St Augustine Campus
  • Fr Arnold Francis, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Fatima
  • Charlene Pedro, Founder and CEO, Conventus Consult Inc
  • Gregory Delzin, Attorney-at-Law & Chair of the Sentencing Commission.

I will be the Moderator.

In August 2017, Pope Francis rightly said that the Church’s social teaching can contribute to a more humane and just society, but only if the Church is allowed a voice in answering “the great questions of society in our time”.

He said that Catholic politicians should be guided by the Church’s moral and social teachings when crafting legislation:

“The laws that you enact and apply ought to build bridges of dialogue between different political perspectives, also when responding to precise aims in order to promote greater care for the defenceless and the marginalised, especially toward the many who are forced to leave their countries, as well as to promote a correct human and natural ecology.”

There are several Catholic politicians in Parliament and while Pope Francis’ words apply to them, let us not forget our own role in developing our capacity to build a just society.

Remember Pope Benedict XVI’s words that the Church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice”. You and I can help to build a just T&T/world.

If we are to build a just society, inter alia:

—We must agree on a common understanding of what a just society looks like, underpinned by morals and values;

—We must address inter-ethnic strife which is deepening daily. How can we build mutual respect for each other? Will we ever be able to see each other as members of one human family? See Pope Francis’ 2013 Peace Message: ‘Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace’.

He said: “Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace…The basis of fraternity is found in God’s fatherhood. (cf Mt 6:25–30)”;

—We must recognise the intrinsic value of every human being and hear the cries of those who are burdened by poverty and social exclusion; drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, incest; by the fear that is instilled in each citizen as runaway crime and violence stalk our land;

—We must respond to the plight of our street children, the differently abled, the homeless and the mentally ill for whom there is no comprehensive care; the sick who cannot afford to pay for private healthcare and who do not have access to adequate healthcare; those who do not have basic amenities or who languish in our prisons awaiting trial while the wheels of justice grind ever more slowly; the drop-outs from our schools and those whom the education system has failed; those who eke out a living on less than a living wage;

—We must develop a new lifestyle and embrace ecological conversion so that we can save our planet.