Birmingham J&P assembly focuses on global financial crisis

The impact that the global financial crisis of the past twelve months has had at a national and parish level, and in particular on families and individuals, was the focus of the Fifth Annual Assembly of the Birmingham Justice and Peace Commission, held at St Peter's Catholic Secondary School in Solihull in the West  Midlands.

The day-long conference on the theme 'God or Mammon?' was attended by more than 150 delegates from parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham, other churches, organisations and justice and peace groups across the West Midlands.

The opening reflection was given by Bishop William Kenney, CP, Diocesan Administrator, and a member of the Justice and Peace Commission.

There were two keynote addresses and delegates took part in 14 discussion groups and workshops, where plans of action were formulated to implement in parishes.

George Gelber, until recently Senior Policy Adviser to CAFOD, spoke about the financial crisis and its effect on the poor. He described how the initial financial crisis had broadened out into a fully-fledged development crisis, affecting numerous areas where deprivation already existed, and highlighting the lack of balance in the world economy.

Mr Gelber gave specific examples of countries that depend on world market prices for minerals, agricultural products and commodities in general, which are at the mercy of price fluctuations beyond their control.

Clifford Longley, the Catholic journalist and broadcaster, spoke about the crisis in capitalism and the common good during which he emphasised that the recent Encyclical Letter, "Caritas in Veritate", by Pope Benedict XVI, provided a coherent spirituality for
Justice and Peace activity.

The two keynote speakers were joined by Helen Moseley from CAFOD's West Midlands office, in a lively question and answer session.

Afterwards, David Jenkins, Administrator of the Birmingham Justice and Peace Commission, said: "This was a most worthwhile Assembly. The enormity of the global financial crises is overwhelming. But, delegates left determined to take small initiatives and help raise awareness of the social teachings of the Catholic Church in parishes and among individuals."

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