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Cardinal O’Malley announces new Archdiocesan Social Justice Ministry

Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston in May 2013. O’Malley announced the creation of an Archdiocesan Social Justice Ministry in Boston to address a variety of social issues. GEORGE MARTELL/ THE PILOT MEDIA GROUP

Cardinal Sean O’Malley recently announced the creation of an Archdiocesan Social Justice Ministry in Boston to advise him on social issues.

The announcement was made Saturday at the annual Social Justice Convocation of the Archdiocese of Boston, held at Boston College High School in Dorchester.

In his remarks, O’Malley said the advisory board would be assisting him in efforts of social service.

“Our call to discipleship includes bringing the resources of Catholic teaching and tradition,” he said, “to issues which threaten human dignity in our society or which can enhance the dignity and protect the rights of all people.”

The process to create this ministry was headed by Pat Dinneen, who proposed the idea of an annual gathering as a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.

“This is really a call to go beyond charity and actually start eradicating some of the root causes of social injustice,” Dinneen said. “So, it’s very exciting.”

The process is still in early development, Dinneen said, but she said she hopes to have more details by early 2019.

“The reason to announce a permanent social justice ministry is that we’ve had this convocation now for 10 years, and we mobilize people from across the archdiocese,” Dinneen said. “There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm and networking and dreams about collaboration, but then people go back home to their parishes and their work, and they get distracted,”

Evelyn Sanchez, 19, of Medford, said she supports the new ministry and what it could mean for local Catholics.

“Well, considering I am Catholic, I think that’s actually a really good idea,” Sanchez said. “It’ll bring awareness, of course.”

Sanchez said she thinks the creation of this ministry is likely the result of an increase in racist attacks.

“I’m assuming [the ministry was created] because recently there’s been an increase in violence and stuff like that regarding race,” Sanchez said.

While they are just in the planning process, O’Malley said that the future ministry has big ambitions and will cover many aspects of the community.

“The topics which the Archdiocese’s Social Justice Ministry will address are too numerous to summarize here,” O’Malley said during his speech. “But they certainly are evident in the questions surrounding protection of immigrants and refugees, in the urgent issues of climate change and care for creation, in the struggle of families to find affordable housing in the Boston area, in the need for decent jobs with just wages and in the continuing struggle to guarantee racial equality and civic peace.”

Dinneen explained that the ministry wants to work with many diverse groups, including young people, refugees and immigrants, and people from other faiths. She said they plan to include business leaders, legal experts and workers’ organizations that are committed to social justice issues on their advisory board, alongside faith leaders.

The ministry will not just be an advisory board for the Cardinal, Dinneen said. In order for it to be successful, he said, they want it to be present on a more local level as well.

“Every Parish should have a social justice ministry,” Dinneen said. “And it may not be the same at every parish — local issues — but what we want to do is develop resources, speakers, lessons learned that we can share with each other and develop a real grassroots movement from the parishes up.”

James Contompasis, 26, of Somerville, said he has been involved with the Catholic Church and thinks the church already focuses on social justice.

“Some of the positives of the Catholic Church has been [the] social justice ministry [which has existed] for a long time,” Contompasis said. “I used to be involved with it when I was younger, so it’s a good thing.”

Armani Nova, 23, of Brighton, said she thinks this ministry is a good move for the Archdiocese.

“I think it’s positive,” Nova said. “I think it’s nice to see the Catholic Church getting involved in other stuff other than religion. But, I mean, as long as they’re doing good, I don’t really see it hurting anybody.”

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