Social Justice Week 2018
Each year the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand set aside a week in September for Social Justice Week. In 2018 it ran from 9 to 15 September and the theme was Enabling Communities: Everyone has a part to play.
In 2018 from the 9th to the 15th of September, we focused on disability and participation. How can we encourage more enabling communities, affirming that everyone has a part to play in our society?
"Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed."
Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, 1998
In New Zealand, almost a quarter of us live with disability, often experiencing more discrimination and marginalisation than those of us without disability.
Disability is not about individual impairment, but about society. The New Zealand Disability Strategy says: "Disability is something that happens when people with impairments face barriers in society; it is society that disables us, not our impairments… It is something that happens when the world we live in has been designed by people who assume that everyone is the same."
We are all valuable before God, and we all have the same desire to experience life more abundantly, as Jesus promised us. God has called us together as one body – in fact, it is our diverse gifts and abilities that make us the Body of Christ. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it" (1 Cor 12:26).
It is the duty and responsibility of each of us to play our own part to the fullest and remove every barrier that stands in the way of our brothers and sisters from doing the same.
Throughout August we hosted interactive workshops. Then, during Social Justice Week, communities worked to encourage and enable each of us to participate more fully in the life of our church, and our nation.
As part of Social Justice Week 2018, we joined with local Church organisations to hold interactive workshops in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington to reflect on disability and participation in our community, and discuss concrete actions we can take towards creating more inclusive spaces.