In a national pastoral letter to all Catholic parishes in Scotland to mark Justice and Peace Sunday on 6 January 2008, President of the Justice and Peace Commission, Bishop Peter Moran has chosen refugees and asylum as his theme. The text of the letter is shown below, followed by information on how parishes can maximise the impact of Justice and Peace Sunday.
“In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.” The Wise Men came to the new-born king. They came to acknowledge his dignity. But in today’s Gospel we hear how the Wise Men themselves were exploited by Herod. And in last Sunday’s Gospel we heard how their visit forced the Holy Family into exile. In today’s world, millions of people are in exile from their own country. Some move for better wages or conditions – the migrants. Some move in desperation – the refugees. Some move because of danger and terror – the asylum-seekers.
Migrants are at risk of being exploited. If Herod could exploit the Wise Men, how much easier to exploit strangers who don’t speak the language. At Bethlehem, hardly anybody recognised the dignity of the baby in the stable: migrants today can so easily lose their dignity. We recognise that Christ child as our King. We claim to be citizens of his kingdom. “In his days, justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.”
Many parishes in Scotland have Justice and Peace groups. They work for fair trade, for an end to the nuclear threat, for justice for refugees, and other urgent causes. Nationally, the Justice and Peace Commission promotes the same aims. Today, as its President, I appeal to you particularly for the dignity of those in exile and those who are exploited. But what can you do?
Here are some simple but effective actions:
1.Find out more – from newspapers, magazines, or the Justice and Peace website.
2.Join a Justice and Peace group – or start one if none exists near you.
3.Give what you can to today’s collection for the work of Justice and Peace.
4.Talk Justice and Peace – bring it into conversation with friends.
5.Smile to the migrants you meet working in the shops and restaurants.
Justice and Peace has to start right here among us, right now.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Bishop Peter Moran
Further resources at the Scottish Catholic Media Office.