Now it’s getting interesting. Very probably as a result of what happened in the lead up to, and subsequent publication of, the Ryan report on abuse in industrial schools, Reynolds and Healy have gone independent. That’s Brigid Reynolds and Sean Healy, you know, formerly CORI Justice? Oh wait, Fr. Sean and Sr Brigid? Right, now we’re on the same page.
To me their move to establishing Social Justice Ireland is a relatively significant shift in the way that we talk about justice in Ireland. Reynolds and Healy have clearly become frustrated with what they see as institutional foot-dragging over Ryan and its implications for the Conference of Religious in Ireland (Cori). I know that there has been some considerable cardiac introspection on the ways in which Cori has responded to the Ryan report. Taking their tent down from ‘leafy’ Donnybrook and pitching it in the new frontier that is Sandyford says as much about the new organisation as anything else.
Social Justice Ireland is unambiguously linked with the Gospel message:
We understand justice in the Biblical tradition as a harmony that comes from fidelity to right relationships with God, people, institutions and the environment.
But central to SJI is a conception of justice as the promotion of
relationships so that human rights are respected, human dignity is protected, human development is facilitated and the environment is respected and protected.
There are a lot of other strategic objectives but the point I wanted to make is that cleaving themselves from Cori and setting themselves up as an independent organisation means that they’re now away from the political and ideological cover provided by a significantly powerful Church. Not many understand that the religious orders and congregations are a very different animal from the diocesan Church. This breakway group (Continuity Cori?) is a further example of how ‘independence’ is constantly re-evaluated within what is often mis-percerived as a monolithic organisation.
By including “the environment” they’re also seeking to attract a group of religious who who understand that it’s not just God’s people that need saving. They have unambiguously made social policy about choices we can make and in this, reach out to a constituency that find it difficult to marry their niggling social conscience with materialism. Catholic social thought is often talked about as the Church’s best kept secret. I hope that Reynolds and Healy shout it from the highest building in Sandyford so that we can hear it better.
Yea, and the madness continues: the Irish Times do not even provide a hyperlink from the story to the site, just the static url.