SOCIAL JUSTICE – rcsocialjustice.org
“God must be a Trini.” He is fully present and experiencing life with each person in our nation. Our diversity in race, creed, colour, as well as, mind and heart, make us a people rich in experience, innovation, and culture.
When a Trini sees a community need, he/she can effortlessly fill it. The hallmark of an entrepreneurial spirit. There is a great need emerging within our society and world that requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ solution.
Food security! This is an issue which must be addressed to ensure that we evolve into an equitable, just society.
Food security or ‘insecurity’ is a growing concern for segments of Trinidad and Tobago’s population. The national media reports, “[what] the Government has spent specifically on pandemic relief is an acknowledgement of how ‘tough’ the situation is in the country. For 2020 alone [the government] assisted over 176,800 people, and that cost roughly $341 million” (www.cnc3.co.tt).
Beyond local government, many faith-based organisations have assisted their communities significantly, in particular during the pandemic, which saw a downturn in the local and global economy and an increase in job losses. The Roman Catholic Church is no exception.
“During the pandemic, last year, the Church really ‘stepped up to the plate’ to do a Ministry for those who are on the fringe, and together with the work of the communities that I spoke about and the parishes, we would have fed about 70,000 people in these three critical months of the lockdown when people had lost their salaries and did not have anywhere to turn. And whereas, the government gave out three tranches of money to help the poor, what we spent was nearly double what they gave. This year again, in the four critical months this year from June, based on what we spent in giving out hampers, we would have given out about 40,000 hampers” (Archbishop Jason Gordon).
The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ), to commemorate World Day of the Poor on Sunday, November 14, 2021, held a landmark conversation with a number of faith leaders from Trinidad and Tobago, to discuss poverty within our society and to encourage the public to embrace the most vulnerable, especially during the pandemic when many continue to face increased hardship.
Archbishop Gordon led the charge during the critical conversation, highlighting both what the Catholic faith says about how we should treat with the poor and vulnerable, as well as how the Church as a community is reaching those in need. He said:“In our tradition, John Chrysostom says that ‘don’t think that… you should ask the poor to account for their conduct or to improve their condition as a way of justifying whether or not you will do anything with them.’ John Chrysostom says, ‘the poor have only one plea, their poverty and the condition and the need in which they find themselves. Do not ask them anything else…The merciful are like a harbour of those in need. The harbour welcomes and frees from danger all those who are shipwrecked. Whether they are evil doers, good persons or whatever they may be, the harbour shelters them within its inlet. You too, therefore, when you see on land, a man or a woman who has suffered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge. Do not ask for an account of their conduct but deliver them from their misfortune’.”
(The full transcript of the Inter-Faith webinar is available on www.rcsocialjustice.org).
As growing numbers, including our own flock, fall into the bracket of the misfortunate, we should certainly ask ourselves how can we each become a safe harbour for our metaphorical and literal neighbours?
We can share our God-given talents and celebrate our cultural fusions to uplift both ourselves and our community.
In his message for World Peace Day 2022, Pope Francis reminds us: “A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture” .
We can share our conversation and the culture of each home with food and recipes. Such activities give us joy. Yet within the pandemic, we are called to be creative in how we can safely participate in community development practices.
Technology and pre-packaging of meals can help us connect with each other and share God’s mercy.
The CCSJ has produced a community e-cookbook, So Nice We Made It Twice, in which we are calling on the Catholic community to share its home-grown talents in the form of recipes and culinary skills.
If you know a home in need, we have low-cost food ideas which you can make for your home and another that may be in need.
Join us now by sending your recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org and visiting our website (www.rcsocialjustice.org) to download your copy of So Nice We Made It Twice.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Although technological and economic development has tended to create a divide between generations, our current crises show the urgent need for an intergenerational partnership. Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity and dynamism of the young.” (2)
– Pope Francis, 55th World Day of Peace 2022
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee