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Justice and Peace Commission Annual Essay Competition

Congratulations to Neve Davidson of John Paul II High School in Greymouth
who won the Justice and Peace Cup in the Year 11-13 category of the CCJP
Essay competition. Neve was awarded $500 for herself and a $100 class

Upon the ending of his trip to Sweden in 2016, Pope Francis offered six new beatitudes specially adjusted to fit
the spiritual and physical needs of the modern world, and modern Christians. The ethics of these beatitudes
stemmed from the lives of two Swedish Saints, Elizabeth Hasselblad, and Bridget of Vadstena, whom the
Pope stated: “prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians”.

The six beatitudes are as follows:
“Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their
heart, blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness, blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him, blessed are those who protect and care for our common home, blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in an effort to help others, blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians”.

These beatitudes call modern Christians to “confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus,” essentially working to live out the life-ethics demonstrated by Jesus and these saints, by placing the needs of all
others above our own. (Francis, n.d.)

By reflecting on the various tragedies of our era, it is not difficult to recognise the true relevance that these newly established beatitudes have concerning today’s society. In an era of rapid climate change and the unprecedented phenomenon of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance that we make a continual and communal effort to promote justice and peace within our diocese and support global distresses, in a conjunctive partnership with our wider Christian communities. This is a vital start in attempting to actively counteract the struggles endured by millions of people daily, through these now commonly endured tragedies of our modern normality.

Justice isn’t restored, and cannot be restored, through one person or one action. Rather, it is a collective effort made by numerous people through the carrying out of numerous actions, to restore as much of a sense of peace and unity as possible amongst all people. We will never be able to restore this sense of justice unless we encounter each other, by making a genuine pursuit to build each other up, rather than ripping each other down.

These messages coherently relate to Pope Francis’ third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which he offered as a “modest
contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of presentday attempts to eliminate or ignore
others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will
not remain at the level of words.” Climate change is debatably one of the most serious and pressing issues
of our era, with changes in the climate altering most attributes of our modern life, compared to many years ago. In
essence, the earth is our common home, and we are obligated to protect and preserve it in whatever ways
we can. This effort of environmental preservation is one of our many moral duties as followers of the Christian

It is a common belief within the Catholic tradition, as stated within the bible, that God created the world through his vision. If we truly respect this belief, we must do everything in our power to support the livelihood of our natural environment, including species of animals, plants, and all people. A changing climate subsequently causes a significant
change in the way our world functions. Homes of people and animals alike become inhabitable. The abundance
and accessibility of food and clean water are diminished. In this instance, the quality of life in all God’s creation is
compromised and marginalized.

As Christians, we have an ethical obligation to not only support all those directly impacted by the disaster of climate change, but to also make an active and consistent effort to protect and preserve God’s ultimate creation, mother earth. These changes require a substantial change of attitude and action. Our support
can be demonstrated in numerous ways, whether that be donating to charities that directly assist in slowing down the impact of climate change, or those which assist our international brothers and sisters who are already enduring the severe knock-on impact that climate change has imposed.
We can also reduce our impact by being more sustainable, using more recyclable products, walking or biking to school and work where possible to reduce carbon emissions, using less single-purpose packaging, or avoiding (and therefore no longer supporting) companies that are accelerating the already catastrophic decline of our environment’s prosperity.

Jesus sacrificed his own needs and comforts by dying on the cross to grant us salvation. This ultimate act of selflessness illustrates the traditional Christian ethics that we are called to carry out and aspire towards every day, to preserve the common good of all people. As stated by Pope Francis in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, it is his “desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead;” we can attain this sense of fraternity by creating a culture of encounter.

Part of Neve’s winning essay as published in Inform – Issue 30