Archbishop of Wellington John Dew launched Caritas’ Social Justice Week 2011 (11-18 September) on Wednesday with a pep talk to Catholic secondary students in a Wellington school gymnasium.
Archbishop Dew addressed the group of 20 students from St Patrick’s and St Catherine’s Colleges, Kilbirnie on the Social Justice Week theme ‘On a level playing field: fair play and the common good.’
He noted the group’s recent success in regional kapahaka competitions, and said, "We are meant to use our talents, and to strive for excellence and for achievement." We expect competitions to be won fairly and squarely, on a "level playing field" where all have a chance of success. However Archbishop Dew noted that in society there are a lot of inequalities. He said many New Zealanders do not experience our society as a level playing field.
Armed with a whistle and bundle of green, yellow and red cards, Archbishop Dew said, "It’s time to blow the whistle on inequality. It might mean showing some people a red card if they promote policies and ways of living that mean some people are getting a lot more than others who are struggling.
It would be great if New Zealanders put as much enthusiasm and effort into ensuring we have a fair society, as we do into cheering for success on the sporting field".
He said working for the common good means looking beyond what is just good for me, to what it is good for the wider society. It is about ensuring "everyone has a chance to grow and develop equally".
He urged the students to "pass the ball" and take the message to their colleges, families and wherever they are – to remind people that striving for a better society means looking out for everyone, and not leaving anyone behind.
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services has released a statement calling for shared responsibility for a fair society.
"Make sure you all get green cards, and not red cards," he concluded.
Learn more about Social Justice Week 2011