Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting rid of the J&P Coordinator

The diocese of Shrewsbury have made their "Justice and Peace" Coordinator redundant. I am very pro-J and P, God is Just, I'm very pro-God,
I go along with the "give a man a fish..." and the "I feed the hungry, they call me Christian, I ask why he is hungry they call me a communist" stuff that J&P groups put out. I believe in the Church's social teaching, I believe Catholics should be involved in party politics but I am also very wary of the Church's direct involvement in politics or economics and the identification of Christianity with a particular brand of politics.
For example, I am not convinced by the "Fairtrade" agenda, yes I believe in a paying a fair price for things, I believe in workers being paid fair wage but I am not happy with the whole bureaucracy that seems to be in place to ensure it happens. I am concerned about those from the "Fairtrade" market, it just isn't fair trade.
I am very uncomfortable with Catholic aid agencies involvement with non-Catholic aid agencies, they get too close to groups that promote values that directly opposed Catholic teaching. I am suspicious of such Catholic groups because they too often seem to propose a Liberal rather than Catholic agenda, indeed in many ways their employees seem to have too many "issues" with the "institutional" Church, code for I don't agree with those who are in communion with the Pope.
The teaching of Catholic Tradition is radical, it is about "casting the Mighty from their thrones" and "raising the lowly", it is about giving one's clothes to the poor, denouncing Emperors, Presidents and Dictators. It is about dying for Christ. Catholic Tradition however doesn't start with a series of policy statements, it starts with the Doctrine of the Trinity and from there develops into ideas of the equality and brotherhood of mankind.
From what I understand of Bishop Mark Davies, I suspect the reason for getting rid of the J&P coordinator is that perhaps they are not radical enough!


grumple said...

The problem with most of the Justice & Peace-related activity in the UK is that J&P too often gets turned into Socialism & Pacifism. Bleurgh!

Jessica Hoff said...

It is all too easy for Christians to identify themselves with secular political agenda and to mistake them for the word of the Lord. I am not sure how short of justice and peace the diocese of Shrewsbury is, but I suspect we shan't see an increase in injustice and conflict as a result of this decision.

Jamie said...

Hear, hear and Well said Fr Ray!

Part-time Pilgrim said...


We are talking about someone's livelihood here. Speculation about the way she performs her job is wrong: not just to her or contributing to her (or Bishop Davies's) peace of mind.

parepidemos said...

This is a sad situation and one in which the bishop has been something of a dictator.

My understanding is that when the diocesan trustees went against the wishes of the Bishop Davies, and refused to sanction making certain staff redundant, he removed them from their posts and replaces them with more malleable personages. Nothing like surrounding oneself with "yes" men.

Physiocrat said...

Perhaps the bishop was not keen on Justice and Peace liturgies. I would be surprised if they never had them and you can imagine what they would have been like.

Michael Petek said...

Denouncing Emperors?

Pope John Paul II declared an Emperor to be blessed shortly before his death.

Introibo said...

Another great move from this great Bishop.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Well actually no, we are talking about the proclamation of the faith, I am talking in general terms, from what I know of Bishop Davies I speculate he is demanding radical Orthodoxy.

Scripture, VII has an understanding of a Bishop and clergy and laity but not of Diocesan Trustees, they are there to assist the Bishop in his Apostolic ministry, if they are hindering that then a wise bishop replaces them, especially if they are a hangover from one's predecessor, life is too short for endless argument.

By calling Bp Davies a "dictator" you are rehearsing the Tablets whinings, but they would say that wouldn't they, just as recently they implied a rift between him and Card MO'C - a bit of a dirty trick, eh?

epsilon said...

part time pilgrim says:
"We are talking about someone's livelihood here."

What about contribution to carpenters', stonemasons', wrought ironongers', upolsterers' livelihoods up and down the country by paying them to make altar rails and kneelers according to our means, so we can all receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most time-honoured and reverend way possible in all our churches and chapels post haste?

JARay said...

I must say that I am confused by anyone making a living by being a Justice and Peace co-ordinator. What is there to co-ordinate?
A phenomenon of many organisations, especially governmental organisations, is the spread of many non-job jobs. What measure of productivity can be applied to such jobs?
When I first came to Australia nearly forty years ago I was struck by the almost universal setting-up of committees which were nothing more than talking shops and which achieved simply nothing except the satisfaction of those who like to hear themselves talk. I am reminded of that quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth which begins "All the world's a stage..." and goes on to finish with "...It is a tale, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

Lynda said...

A Catholic diocese does not need "Justice and Peace" professionals; justice and peace are essential attributes of the Church's mission. If the parishes and dioceses are spreading the Gospel, justice and peace will necessarily be promoted. Much of what both secular and religious self-described J & P organisations have concerned themselves with has actually been inimical to true justice and peace, even involved extreme evil, as their view of these concepts have been based on false, anti-God ideologies.

Fr Francis Marsden said...

The Bishop and his Trustees have to balance the books. If Shrewsbury diocese cannot afford to pay these salaries, then sadly there have to be redundancies. This is good management, not dictatorship. It's the Trustees' responsibility to make sure that the diocese lives within its means. If they are unwilling to do this, then maybe it's time to say good-bye.

Moreover, many parish clergy are tired and weary of being inundated with bumf from diocesan agencies for one thing or another. Much of the paper ends up in the large cylindrical file which stands by the fireplace - for recycling or landfill.

Some priests have to struggle to keep their parishes financially afloat, on their personal allowance of less than £10k per year, while they have to pay out diocesan precepts of 20%, 30%, 40% of parish income in order to support a burgeoning diocesan bureaucracy.

In such bureaucracies, laypeople less theologically qualified than the priests are being paid £30k, £40K, £50k to act as pastoral coordinators, catechetical advisors, J & P animators, yawn, yawn, etc. etc.

As you can see, it's not a healthy situation, and indeed one which can lead to a great deal of resentment and non-cooperation.

Part-time Pilgrim said...

".. I am talking in general terms, from what I know of Bishop Davies I speculate he is demanding radical Orthodoxy."

You are not talking in general terms. You are talking about a specific person who is about to lose her job. You speculate about whether she is carrying out the job in the way the Bishop wishes. You are wrong to do so. As the Diocese says: "This is a purely internal matter."

General speculation about whether J&P co-ordinators are useful to dioceses is fine (broadly I agree with you). Specific comments about Shrewsbury are not.


What Father Ray said. Bishop Mark has authority in his diocese and calling him a "dictator" when he exercises it is to misunderstand his role.

amator Dei said...

There seems to be a big dilemma here. If the Church is going to get involved in work for justice and social issues, this will inevitably mean getting its hands dirty and maybe having to work alongside people who do not share Catholic principles. But does this mean it should simply withdraw from such work and keep itself squeaky clean, while the world goes hang? It's easy enough to manufacture reasons for doing this, as your commenters demonstrate, but is there much doubt what the Gospel imperative is?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Part-timer, point our what I have said that is specific to this employee, please.


The trouble with J & P in the Catholic Church is that it is primarily a 'yak, yak, yak' talking shop at parish/diocesan level with no one getting their hands dirty.

If it is replaced by a parish/diocesan system with a set up whereby people start getting their hands dirty and actually doing something then I would be all for it.

pelerin said...

There is an excellent post on this subject written by Dylan on his blog 'A Reluctant Sinner'. Well worth reading.

I never felt drawn to joining a Justice and Peace group as those who belonged seemed to be rather hippyish guitar playing sandal wearing vegetarians! Nice people but I could not see me fitting in.

JARray's comment on what is there to co-ordinate is a good one. And there seem to be far to many non-job jobs today which did not exist years ago and yet we survived without them. With today's instant communication I would have thought a co-ordinator of Justice and Peace and Youth etc was totally unnecessary. Especially the Youth co-ordinator as young people are the ones who seem to be permanently connected to each other by Facebook etc.

In the past I naively thought that those who worked for the Bishops were volunteers, perhaps retired Priests, retired lay people or nuns. I find it rather disconcerting to learn that there are people earning such large sums doing their co-ordinating while many Priests in poor parishes scrape by.

umblepie said...

A real 'leader' at last. Thank you Bishop Davies.
Off topic Father, you might enjoy this:- Salisburgensis'

Jessica Hoff said...

No doubt the Bishop will come in from a lot of stick from the Talbetistas. But they, like others used to the idea that there is plenty of money t waste, will have to get used to realities of life in a recession.

Part-time Pilgrim said...

Fr Ray
"From what I understand of Bishop Mark Davies, I suspect the reason for getting rid of the J&P coordinator is that perhaps they are not radical enough!"
J&P co-ordinator not radical enough and that's why she loses her job. Specific to that person and unfair.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Part timer,

It is what it says, a suspicion, "I suspect"!

Physiocrat said...

There was a J&P coordinator in the A&B Diocese in the early 1990s. He did quite a good job in getting parishes focussed on J&P issues. A J&P group was set up at St Mary Magdalen's and we studied the Catholic Social Teaching. From that group came two vocations.

CST itself proved to be a mixed bag. Rerum Novarum having been deficient, in particular in relation what it referred to confusingly as "property", further encyclicals were then issued subsequently in an attempt to fill the gaps. These culminated in the almost incomprehensible Centesimus Anno of 1991 which was not studied by the group.

Rerum Novarum did great damage in emasculating the Catholic working class movements for social justice at the end of the nineteenth century and helped open up the way for the spread of both worldwide Marxist movements and worldwide fascism as a counter-reaction.

See here which describes the shameful instance of the excommunication and eventual reinstatement of a priest in the Diocese of New York. There was a similar incident locally in which the Catholic intellectual Wilfrid Meynell was quietly sidelined, and possibly also Cardinal Manning - this needs to be investigated even now. Indeed, it may have a bearing on why he has not been put on the canonisation track when Manning is as strong a candidate as Newman and the two belong logically together.

The latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate of 2008 provides the opportunity for a fresh start and lay people should be studying it, though whether it needs a J&P co-ordinator is another matter.

In my experience, J&P has tended to promote fashionable liberal ideals and socialist palliatives rather than getting to grips with issues at their root. This too, however, is due, I would suggest, to the weakness of the official church documents and statement, which fail to provide guidance and leadership.

David Lindsay said...

Splendid stuff, Father.

Did you see Fr Ashley Beck's paper to the last CTA Conference, reprinted in New Blackfriars Heartily recommended. said...

Fr Ray

Off topic - sorry

Have you heard the dreadful news from the Court in Sligo about the Catholic Nun who committed 87 sexual offences against primary school girls?

She was arrested in Jan 2010 and has been on bail since then.

In the Sligo Court, today, the Judge ruled that the case will be heard in Jan or Feb 2013.

I know - - innocent until proven guilty.

Think about it - 87 counts of abuse by a Catholic Nun to primary school girls.
Absolutely disgusting.

Physiocrat said...


Three years to bring this case to court? Justice delayed is justice denied - to all parties involved.

Absolutely disgusting. said...

I agree with you Physiocrat,

My question is where has she been since her arrest in Jan 2010 and has she had contact with children and has The Vatican been informed?

I am appalled by the allegations, and if proven, then not only will the Justice System in Ireland deal with her appropriately, but The Vatican must deal with her also.

By Order of the Court, her identity and place of residence must not be disclosed and therefore the children will not be identifiable.

I am totally disgusted with her and with what is claimed she has done.

Felix said...

Yes, we have to be pro-justice. (And, yes, some of us are a bit lukewarm in this regard.)

But, on the other hand, we need to avoid simplistic analyses, both to speak truely and to avoid a justified contempt by secular experts.

(And this is an area where the pro-justice activists very often fall down.)

It reminds me of when my mother (RIP) bought some "fair trade" tea or coffee. She confessed to me that, while she was pleased to assist the workers in Sri Lanka or wherever, the product wasn't very good quality.

In other words, the "fair trade" people ignore the fact that the middlemen actually value add by achieving quality blends.