25th General Chapter symbol

International Solidarity Reflection

Social Justice and Liberation

February 2024

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Introduction

Human rights, opportunities, dignity, defense of life, education, sustainability, solidarity, and cooperation are closely linked to the search for social justice and liberation. In the Old Testament, justice is seen as “God’s faithfulness, doing what is right and just.” (cf. Deut. 32:4) According to the Church’s Social Teaching, the realization of justice aims to promote the total and integral liberation of the human person in its earthly and transcendent dimensions, contributing to the building of the Kingdom of God.

Call to Prayer

O God, open my eyes so that I can see the causes of injustice and oppression;
Open my ears so that I can listen to the cries of the earth and the poor;
Open my heart so that I can live with mercy;
Open my hands so that I can act guided by justice and peace. Amen

Experience

Our daily experience at the Mother Teresa of Jesus Socio-Cultural Association goes against the grain of the dehumanizing and exclusionary system that prevails in many parts of the world. We receive children and teenagers from families living in social and personal risk situations. For us, it has been a challenge and an opportunity to promote social justice and liberation by getting to know the life story of each child and adolescent and acting with a focus on socio-cultural, personal, community, and family issues. The exchange of knowledge, learning to live together, exercising citizenship, and revealing and developing each child’s and adolescent’s gifts and abilities occurs through computer activities, dance, arts, conversation circles, music, and theatre. The culmination is the round table discussions where they share their lives, fears, dreams, and conflict situations experienced in the family, at school, and on the street. They are heard and given guidance and training to build resilience and overcome the difficulties experienced in the fragile family and social context in which they live.

With the pandemic, internal conflicts, disorders, anxieties, agitation, lack of concentration, and violence have increased even more. The growing challenges require us to keep the focus on humanizing actions, prioritizing welcome, respect, understanding of individualities and limits, and always seeking to affirm the potential that contributes to building a fairer and more equitable society. We seek to provide an environment that generates profound change experiences, re-signifying and valuing life and growth in healthy human relationships. A place where children and teenagers can be themselves, create, play, and dream every day about changing their lives and winning their rights. It has become a support and a place that generates dreams and helps them to see and believe that another world is possible – fair, humane, and without oppression.

Our educational activities are based on “the conviction that the world can be changed through the transformation of people” (You Are Sent, Constitution 22).

Reflection

What situations of social injustice and oppression prevent us from having a more just and humane world? What are their root causes? What paths do the Call and Acts of the 25th General Chapter invite us to take to promote systemic change? What experiences/testimonies inspire me to pray and act for social justice and liberation in the area where I work and in the world?

In the Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis points out ways of acting to eliminate the causes of injustice and promote social justice and liberation: essentially, these ways are living fraternity and social friendship. We highlight some points for reflection and response to create a more just, human, and liberated world.

  1. We are called to rethink our lifestyles, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of our existence. (FT 33) Hope is capable of looking beyond convenience and opening us up to grand ideals. (FT 55)
  2. Hospitality is a concrete form of openness and encounter. (FT 90) The spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love, the criterion for the definitive decision on the worth of a human life. The greatest danger is failing to love. (FT 92)
  3. Living social friendship means realizing fraternity between peoples, promoting encounters, solidarity. (FT 148). We can’t close the doors; there must always be possibilities for entry.
  4. The best policy is “social love” to which everyone is called; human dignity is emphasized as an ideal, considered a political, social, and cultural project. (FT 183).
  5. We need to heal wounds and restore peace. We need audacity and truth. (FT 225) Building social peace in a country is never finished; it is everyone’s task and commitment. (FT 232).

Action

Justice and liberation were at the center of Jesus’ life and mission. Guided by the look, feel, thought and action of Jesus Christ:

  1. Name up to 3 social injustice and oppression situations and identify their causes and choose ways to address them.
  2. Listen, reflect, pray, and choose to carry out a concrete action that, in the light of Laudato Si’, will bring about social justice and liberation in your local area, thus contributing to the advancement of systemic change.

Closing Prayer

God of love, hope, justice, and peace, continue inspiring and encouraging us to advance systemic change, to address and respond to the needs of our times in ways “founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.” (Pacem in Terris 167)

 

Prepared by Sister Leticia Antonello, Province of Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Shalom Network
Graphic taken from 25th General Chapter design by Joyelle Proot, SSND CP