The Australian Church will celebrate Social Justice Sunday on 25 September. The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2016-17 is entitled A Place at the Table: Social justice in an ageing society. It celebrates the value, dignity and significant contributions of older people to the life of the community.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv is the Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC), which has developed resources for parishes, schools and communities.
In the Diocese of Parramatta, Bishop Vincent will launch the statement locally on Sunday 25 September at Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath, commencing with Mass at 9.30am followed by the launch from 11am-noon. The national launch took place in Sydney on 6 September.
The number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double by the middle of the century. This has been rightly described as ‘the great success story of human development’. Increasing numbers of older people have an excellent chance of enjoying good health and an active life for many years.
In solidarity with all generations, older people have a rightful place in the heart of community life. The bishops confront the utilitarianism in our society that values people only for what they produce and contribute economically and that, at worst, can regard older people as burdensome or dispensable.
In a society in which older people are being asked to work beyond the traditional retirement age, the bishops call for the benefits of work to be shared equitably. We must be especially aware of the needs of those who enter retirement in poverty or are particularly vulnerable to economic hardship, social isolation or exploitation.
The bishops consider the circumstances of those who are approaching the end of their lives and warn of the loneliness, ageism and abuse that older people can experience. In particular, the bishops warn about implications of the current community debate on euthanasia.
The bishops call for communities of mercy and love – where people reach out and minister to vulnerable older people, where bonds between generations are built up, and where no one is cast as being a burden or as rivals to younger generations.
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has developed resources that are available for download free of charge. These resources include liturgy notes, a PowerPoint presentation and resources for parishes, schools and social justice groups.
To download a copy of the statement, click here.
Copies of the statement, prayer cards and Ten Steps leaflets can be ordered from the ACSJC tel (02) 8306 3499 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org