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Tuesday, 19 September 2017 22:26

Inclusion and sustainability for the common good

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Sr Ruth Durick osu 2017 webThe story of Jesus does not relate to awards or grades of pay, to bonuses or penalties; it relates to a ‘living wage’ – what a person needs in order to live with dignity in society, writes CRA President Sister Ruth Durick osu.

On 7th September, a number of people attended the launch of the 2017 Social Justice Statement at Mary MacKillop Place North Sydney: Everyone’s Business: developing an inclusive and sustainable economy. The statement was jointly launched by Susan Pascoe, inaugural Commissioner for the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, and Fr Frank Brennan SJ, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia. We were reminded of the cogent link between this statement and that of 25 years ago: Common Wealth for the Common Good.

The very counter cultural gospel of the workers in the vineyard forms the basis for this statement. In our world, it is incomprehensible that a person coming at the late hour of afternoon and beginning work would be paid the same as one who had been working since early morning. The story of Jesus does not relate to awards or grades of pay, to bonuses or penalties. It relates to a ‘living wage’ – what a person needed in order to live with dignity in the society of the day.

The statement outlines some bald facts about our own economy and highlights issues such as the insecurity of many in the workforce; the merciless crackdown on welfare recipients; the homelessness crisis in a country where those who have more property continue to gain advantage over those who have none. The plight of our indigenous sisters and brothers is highlighted – in a highly-developed country we have parts of our country with health statistics which are worse than some of the poorest countries in the world. Everyone’s Business gives a concise outline of relevant church teaching on the economy from Pope Leo Xlll in Rerum Novarum up to Francis’ call to rethink the outdated criteria which rule the world economies. The document also outlines five fundamental criticisms of the current economic system and some key principles central to the development of an inclusive economy.

The principles set forth, while applying in this instance to the economic world, cannot be siloed in this way. They are principles which could, should, govern the movement towards an inclusive culture in any organisation:

  • People and nature are not mere tools of production – all deserve recognition as people of dignity, as does our earth which is gift and requires our good stewardship.
  • Economic growth alone cannot ensure inclusive and sustainable development – what are our determinants of success and growth? Are we only interested in numbers, whether they be dollar values or numbers of people?
  • Social equity must be built into the heart of the economy – how do we welcome diversity in our communities, in our families, at our table? Are we willing to wash the feet of any and all?
  • Businesses must benefit all society, not just shareholders – if we have shares in a business how constructive are we in engaging in the ethics of that business? In helping to maintain a common wealth for the common good platform? Are we tempted to seek advancement, self-serving promotions above others?
  • The excluded and vulnerable must be included in decision-making – marginal people will not come to what they see as the centres of power; how can we reach out, sit with, be with people on the margins and learn from them so that our society might become more inclusive.

In the last few weeks we have seen two very different sides of a policy which spends considerable amounts of tax payers’ money in keeping people, who are already on the edge in so many ways, from staying in our country. We have witnessed the inhumane face of the minister for Immigration and Border protection as he refuses to be swayed on his decision regarding asylum seekers already in the country. On the other hand, we have seen the resilience of many agencies in our community who are giving their all, in order to advocate for these people. Edmund Rice Centre and Jesuit Refugee Services have combined with the House of Welcome and the Asylum Seeker Centre to provide services for these people. They have been generously supported by many religious institutes in their work. Let us pray for a bolt of compassion and a movement of the heart of our government to let them stay.

Special note on Pathways eNewsletter:

This month's edition of Pathways is the last edition that Giselle Lapitan will be producing. Giselle has moved to ACU in a full-time capacity and we are very grateful to her for bridging the gap left by her departure. Giselle has made a wonderful contribution to the media and communications of Catholic Religious Australia and we thank her sincerely for her professionalism, creativity and generosity. Our best wishes go with Giselle. 

Pathways will take a short break as we reshape our media and communications at Catholic Religious Australia. We look forward to communicating with you all soon about our future plans. 

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