A beacon to the rest of the world
(Model for Ecumenical and interfaith engagement)
31 July 2014
In the dark shadow of intense conflict, faced with the tragedies unfolding in Syria, Gaza, Somalia, CAR, Nigeria, Ukraine and Iraq it is tempting to give into cynicism or despair and believe that our actions will make no difference. But as Martin Luther King said “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
So it matters where we stand and what we say and do. Will we stand by while nations fracture and people suffer or will we find the courage to commit to a bold re-imagining of our traditions and stand together as a beacon to the rest of the world? Is it naïve to believe in hope and to be idealistic? As Christians, not to devote ourselves to bridging divisions is to abandon our very reason for being.
We are realistic about the messiness of human life and the need to start with people where they are. Let’s not forget that Jesus Christ charged us with the radical obligation to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). So we are called to work for the Common Good, not only by living in solidarity with vulnerable communities, but also to be personally committed to reconciliation between the fractured relationships that blight our world, from the local to the global. Across our different traditions we can model the collaboration we know is so needed and, together with others of different faiths and secular allies, do the patient work to discern the conditions required for all to flourish. Rather than striving for independence, we aspire to interdependence.
News about our work
Planning is now underway for our pilot Common Good Conversation, designed to generate a ‘language of hope’. The pilot event will take place in mid October and focus on the very human subject of ‘Home’. We hope to develop a model that can be applied to any topic, and enable people of different circumstances to discern the Common Good together through dialogue.
We are pleased to report progress with our collection of essays on the Common Good. Our co-editors, Peter McGrail and Nicholas Sagovsky, members of the T4CG Steering Group, are bringing together leading thinkers and theologians across the faith traditions. Manuscripts are due for completion at the end of September and all being well the book will be published before the General Election next year.
Our cross-party Common Good discussions in Parliament continue, following the success of our first dinner in June. We are now planning a seminar in November for MPs and Peers to come together across party divides and discuss how Common Good thinking and the principles of Catholic social thought can be a helpful tool to discern policy. We are delighted to be taking this forward in partnership with Christians in Parliament.
Our approach is always relational, we consult widely and collaborate with other Common Good initiatives. So far we have operated on a pro bono basis, but now with momentum building around our work and further plans in view, we need to establish some basic core resources. We are setting up as a small charity and are now in fundraising mode. So far this year we are fortunate enough to have support from Westminster Abbey One People Fund, CCLA, MB Reckitt Trust, and the Church Urban Fund. Please get in touch if you are in a position to help and would like to be involved. We aim to remain small and continue working in relationship with like-minded organisations.
A flavour of what’s going on
- We were interested to hear the Church of England’s debate on the Common Good at itsGeneral Synod in mid July. Click here to read the motion and Steven Saxby’s amendment, together with recordings of the debate and the official background document along with our briefing paper.
- A group of influential experts and academics gathered at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on July 11-12 for a seminar on ‘The Global Common Good’ to discuss a more inclusive economy and governance for the common good. Click here for the statement and to see the interesting list of signatories. Much of the groundwork for this and other progress in the business field is thanks to patient work behind the scenes by our friends atBlueprint for Better Business.
- You may like to get hold of the latest edition of Crucible: The Christian Journal of Social Ethics, which is guest edited by Hilary Russell, a member of T4CG Steering Group. This edition is titled ‘Together for the Common Good’, and includes commissioned articles by Angus Ritchie, Niall Cooper, Simon Duffy and Maria Power.
- In her paper, Maria Power, also a member of the T4CG Steering Group, explores ‘A partnership in pursuit of the Common Good’ – the example of Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock during the 1981 Toxteth riots. We are featuring this article in our growing collection of Opinion Pieces.
- We are now seeing ecumenical Christian partnership on a global level with Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin and their joint initiative against modern slavery. This is collaboration on an unprecedented scale and we’re sure you will be inspired by this story, the latest addition to our collection of case studies examining joint action for social justice between Christian traditions.
- We are delighted to share a three-lecture series ‘Religious Convictions and Secular Politics’ by the leading Jesuit Professor Frank Turner SJ in our Opinion Pieces. He brings unrivalled international experience – from Liverpool to Iraq, Colombia, Syria, Lebanon and Israel-Palestine, to Brussels and finally San Francisco, where he will shortly take up a one-year appointment as Professor of Catholic Social Thought.
- We’ve heard many positive reports about Anglican Social Theology an important new book edited by Malcolm Brown, featuring chapters by Anna Rowlands, Jonathan Chaplin, Alan Suggate and John Hughes – whose tragic and untimely death we are mourning. We hope that the vision of the book will serve to breathe new life into the social tradition of the Church.
- To enable Christians to be effective voices for good in society, Evangelical Alliance have started a new training initiative called the Public Leader, intended to encourage a culture of public leadership in the UK.
- Identifying specific steps to place ethos and purpose at the heart of finance, a new report‘Virtuous Banking’ by ResPublica with Sir Richard Lambert, calls for social purpose, a Banker’s Oath, shareholder duty, trust and promoting diversity as the keys to banking reform.
We hope you find this and the Resources on our website helpful. We are always open to suggestions so don’t hesitate to get in touch – after all, we’re working Together for the Common Good.
Warmest wishes for the summer,
Together for the Common Good