REGINA/MOOSE JAW — Anti-poverty and the lack of federal and provincial anti-poverty strategies were highlighted at two functions: Oct. 16 by the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry in downtown Regina and Oct. 18 at the Light a Spark, Set a Fire archdiocesan social justice conference held at Moose Jaw’s Vanier Collegiate.
Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan in his keynote to delegates at the social justice conference based his address on Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel, in which Pope Francis calls for a new evangelization in the church.
“Evangelization and social justice are connected,” said Bohan. “We evangelize when we confront injustices in our society.” The archbishop said the church has been in a rough period: the sex abuse, discouragement, people drifting from the church and securalism have to some degree succeeded in pushing the church to the margins as being irrelevant. “But there remains a strong undercurrent of strength and faith. We are starting to recover some of our energy.”
The archbishop said Catholics should not look like they’re coming from a funeral but show the joy in our lives because we are followers of Christ. “Pope Francis says things cannot remain as they are. We must change,” and the pope is encouraging everyone to evangelize and be missionaries. “We have a better alternative to what secular society is offering us, and that is the good news,” said Bohan.
Peter Gilmer of Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and supporters Oct. 16 in Regina’s central downtown street mall handed out lunch bags that contained an apple and a fridge magnet reminding people that poverty exists and neither the federal nor Saskatchewan governments, despite having promised to do so, have implemented an Anti-Poverty Strategy. “It is a reminder that we have made those moral and legal obligations nationally and we continue to call for an anti-poverty strategy that moves us toward the elimination of poverty in Saskatchewan,” said Gilmer.
The social justice conference featured a variety of presenters in four sessions, each speaking on different subjects related to a secular society and poverty, consumer economy, working with the poor, social determinants in health, missionary work within Canada, suggestions for how an anti-poverty strategy would work and three sessions on the oil industry, two of which had to be cancelled because the presenters were ill.
Dale Homberg is a retired Moose Jaw resident with a particular interest in how the controversial practice of “fracking” is used to extract previously unavailable deep oil. He explained that fracking could provide a revenue source for Canada’s maritime provinces, revenue which could be used for education and health and could benefit the poor through increased social programs.
Bohan’s talk was delivered beside the earth balloon, a 5.2 metre high globe of the earth. The outside depicts the earth’s surface and the inside shows the earth’s diverse ecosystems.