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Why The ACSJC Was Created

The life and teachings of Jesus Christ call us to work for justice, peace, human rights, and development. All Christians share by their baptism in the mission of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus describes this mission in the following way:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To let the oppressed go free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. (Luke 4:18-19)

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) was set up by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) in 1987 as the national justice and peace agency of the Catholic Church in Australia. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference mandates the ACSJC to promote research, education, advocacy and action on social justice, peace and human rights, integrating them deeply into the life of the whole Catholic community in Australia, and providing a credible Catholic voice on these matters in Australian society. In this way the ACSJC seeks to bring good news to the poor, release to captives, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. The ACSJC is accountable to the ACBC through the Bishops' Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development.

Photo First ACSJC MeetingThe first ACSJC Meeting

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How The ACSJC Works

The work of the ACSJC is based on Catholic Social Teaching and is a contribution to this living social justice tradition. The ACSJC works in ways that affirm and express the following beliefs:

  • Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and has an inalienable and transcendent human dignity which gives rise to human rights.
  • People are always more important than things. People are never a means or an instrument to be used for the benefit of another.
  • Every human person is equal in dignity and rights. Every human community, every race and culture is equal in dignity and rights. The human family is one because we are all children of the one God.
  • We are all really responsible for each other and must work for social conditions that ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential.
  • Every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and of the wellbeing of the whole human family.
  • God intended the goods of creation for the use of all, and so everyone has a right to access the goods of creation to meet their needs.
  • Responsibility should be kept as close as possible to the grassroots. The people or groups most directly affected by a decision or a policy should have a key decision-making role.
  • More encompassing groups should only intervene to support smaller, more local groups in cases of need, and where this is necessary in order to coordinate their activities with the activities of other groups in order to promote the common good.
  • Respect for and the development of human life require peace. Peace is not the mere absence of war; it is the fruit of a just order. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.
  • Human beings are part of God's creation and are called to act as stewards safeguarding the integrity of creation.

Approved by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference on 8 December 2000, taking effect on 1 July 2001 and amended following the review and changes to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference structures in 2006.

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