People rally after the US rejected a bill to protect 700,000 migrants brought to the US as children People rally after the US rejected a bill to protect 700,000 migrants brought to the US as children  (AFP or licensors)

World Day of Social Justice: Why are we here if not to serve humanity?

On World Day of Social Justice, the CIDSE Secretary General reminds us that every decision we take and every new policy that is implemented have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of others, and that the crises we face today are interconnected.

By Francesca Merlo

Social Justice means equality and dignity for all. It means a system is put in place not only to protect but to aid choices people make, as well as to create an environment that keeps them safe and helps them flourish.

World Day of Social Justice is celebrated annually on 20 February and its observance aims to do just that: to remind us, each year, of the need to build fairer, more equitable societies.

A multiple crisis

Today, the main challenge we are facing within this realm, according to Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General of CIDSE, is that “we are speaking of a pluri-crisis”.

On the frontline in the battle for social justice, CIDSE is an international family of Catholic social justice organisations working together for social justice, and Ms Gauthier explains that “we've gone from seeing that multiple crises we dealt with in the past are deeply interconnected.

"Whether it's climate disruption, extreme poverty, violence, war and conflict over resources, gender, social and racial inequality," she says, adding they are all triggered by "power imbalances and a culture of waste, we're now recognizing that they are just one interconnected crisis of relationships between humans and between humans and the rest of creation”.

Pope Francis' appeals

“Culture of waste” as Ms Gauthier notes, is a concept used often by Pope Francis, who has dedicated much of his pontificate to fighting the global indifference that causes injustices. In particular, Pope Francis continuously appeals for the protection of our common home that is threatened by climate change, for the protection and welcome of migrants and refugees, and he warns against what he describes as “the globalization of indifference” calling on richer countries to take concrete action to help the poor.

Speaking of migration Ms Gauthier notes that when people are forced to leave their home country, because it’s uninhabitable and offers them no future, “we're facing a crisis of our own morality”.

“How can we allow for other human beings to flee their homes due to our own political and economic choices that are impacting them and then turn them away when they cross the border and are in need of our solidarity?” she asks.

"It's only a matter of justice!"

An "opportunity"

Ms Gauthier invites everyone to see World Day of Social Justice as a unique opportunity to “take a pause and reflect on how we treat each other, how we can build more just relationships with each other and with life on this planet, which is our common home”.

Pope Francis' call for social justice and human rights, according to Ms Gauthier, is “extremely relevant”, and it “should be the most important and resounding message for policymakers right now”.  She says she believes that policies must always be linked and rooted in how they affect people's lives, all of our lives, on a daily basis, because, she adds, “what else are we here for if it's not to serve humanity and make it a welcoming and just home for all?”

Finally, Ms Gauthier reminds us that “it is not a game” and that working together, thinking of everyone, is a common and collective responsibility, which “Pope Francis does not tire of reminding us of”.

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20 February 2024, 09:00