October 3, 2011

OTTAWA — Canada's Catholic bishops have encouraged young Catholics to commit themselves to building a "more just and joyful society."

In a message released Sept. 22, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace urges young Catholics to participate in furthering the "Millennium objectives for development."

"The Catholic Church shares all of humanity's common quest for peace and happiness, and supports efforts of individuals and groups working to eradicate poverty, illness, injustice, inequality, human rights violations, and environmental exploitation," says the Message to Young Catholics on Social Justice.

"This witness of solidarity flows from God's love for humanity as revealed to us in Jesus Christ."

The bishops urge young Catholics not to give way to the temptation of discouragement and "take refuge in personal comfort."

Rather, they should find encouragement in the Bible through examples of struggles of injustice found in the examples of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and "the Virgin Mary who as a young woman welcomed Jesus, the one sent by the Father to bring good news to the poor."

The message cites 1 John: "I write to you, young people, because you are strong and God's word remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one."

"Inspired by Scripture, you can use your courage and energy to overcome obstacles that may appear insurmountable," it says.

The message includes quotations from young Catholics involved in leadership - from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Canadian Catholic Students' Association and Catholic Christian Outreach.

"In a society heavily focused on consumption and the accumulation of material wealth, it is important to remember the Gospel values of simplicity, generosity and justice for all," the bishops' message says.

The message reminds young Catholics of Pope Benedict's message to World Youth Day 2011 about how western culture "tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue without relevance for the life of society."

"However, for those who live in communion with Jesus Christ, what matters most is 'faith working through love' (Galatians 5.6)," the message says. "The personal and social dimensions of faith are indissoluble."

The bishops urge commitment to social justice as a "concrete way" to offer Christian hope and witness to Christ's love by raising awareness "of global issues in light of the Church's social teaching."

It urges young Catholics to involve themselves in Catholic social justice agencies and to become active in their parishes.

The message can be read in full at www.cccb.ca.