The 10th meeting of the Justice and Peace Workers’ Asia-Pacific Forum (JPW 2017) is currently (11-18 February 2017) underway in Manila.
Its main objective is to revisit Populorum Progressio and identify common themes with Laudato Si’,
as well as review and strengthen the JPW response to today’s
challenges, in particularly climate change, environmental degradation,
and their effect on the poor. The specific goals are:
1. identify common themes in Populorum Progressio and Laudato Si’;
2. review the work of Justice and Peace Workers and Justice and Peace Workers’ Asia-Pacific Forum over the past 20 years;
3. identify and clarify the challenges ahead, the actions and responses for Justice and Peace Workers;
4. decide on the future of the Justice and Peace Workers’ Asia-Pacific Forum.
CCD-FABC Secretary Bishop Allwyn D'Silva was supposed to participate in JPW 2017, but could not make it for visa problems.
Still, speaking to AsiaNews, he noted that March 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of Populorum Progressio,
which announced the creation of a new pontifical body.
In order “to
awaken in the people of God to full awareness of their mission today,”
the latter would be called “Commission of Justice and Peace,” a name
that “aptly describes its programme and goal.”
“Justice and Peace workers have been meeting for many years,” the
bishop said. “I have been part of this movement for many years as the
chairperson of Justice and Peace Commission, Mumbai. These meetings were
an occasion to learn from the experiences of others and to know the
reality in their country.”
Laudato si’ confirms and adds to Populorum Progressio. The latter speaks of human development and shows concern for the marginalised. This is also the thrust of JPW meetings. Laudato si’ adds another dimension to our work: caring for creation, and the lives of people affected by climate change.
In Laudato si’, the Holy Father noted that "Many of the poor
live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming,
and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves
and eco-systemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.
They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable
them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their
access to social services and protection is very limited” (Laudato si’: 25).
Laudato si’ goes on to say that “(t)here has been a tragic
rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty
caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by
international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives
they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever.
Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is
even now taking place throughout our world” (LS: 25).
Whilst the communications revolution of the last decade has helped many to be aware of the worldwide environmental challenges, Laudato si’ points
out that “(t)his lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at
times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of
conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality.
At times this attitude exists side by side with a ‘green” rhetoric’.”
“Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach
always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice
in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth
and the cry of the poor” (LS: 49).
The cry of the earth and creation is also a cry of the poor and marginalised.