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Is economic growth creating more jobs?

The Irish Centre for Faith and Justice has responded to a Special Report from Jesuit Secretariat in Rome on global economics and justice. In the opening article, Professor James Wickham, Director of the think-tank TASC, writes that economic growth does not automatically create more and better jobs, and the changing nature of work – a key theme in the Secretariat’s Report – is resulting in increasingly precarious work that militates directly against social justice and equality.

In early 2016, a Special Report of Promotio Iustitiae called ‘Justice in the Global Economy – Building Sustainable and Inclusive Communities’ was published by the Jesuit Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology and for Higher Education in Rome.

The Report is part of the thrust of the pontificate of Pope Francis on the need for action in the face of ongoing poverty and growing inequality, and severe environmental decline. It specifically focuses on economic conditions, recognising that “the global human community stands at a critical junction”. Bringing a Gospel perspective to important economic and public policy questions, the Report asks: “Will the economic development advancements we are clearly capable of making benefit all people, or will they be reserved for a privileged few?”

Following the publication of the Report, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice was invited to reflect and respond to this important document. This response is documented in a new issue of Working Notes (Issue 79, December 2016), the Centre’s journal. The issue gives serious consideration to some of the major social, economic, and environmental justice challenges presented in the Report.

Catherine Devitt, environmental justice officer with the Jesuit Centre, focuses on the Report’s theme of the unattended fragility of our common home. In her article, Devitt argues that although economic globalisation has generated considerable benefits for humanity, these same processes are pushing the planetary system towards breaking point.

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ responds to the Report’s invitation to identify and explore particular challenges arising in ‘different regions and local situations.’ Providing a theological reflection, he argues that one of the key problems in contemporary Irish society is the difficulty in linking challenging issues with an operative grasp of faith and spirituality. O’Hanlon SJ concludes his article by outlining steps towards a renewed theology.

Finally, Brian Flannery, Education Delegate with the Irish Jesuit Province, explains how the promotion of justice is integral to a Jesuit education. In responding to the Report’s call for Jesuit institutions to work for economic justice, Flannery raises the challenging question of whether or not our fee-paying school system is part of the problem. The article concludes by highlighting the importance of reflecting on how Jesuit works challenge social, economic and environmental injustice.

All the articles from this issue of Working Notes can be read online and hard copies are available from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The Special Report Justice in the Global Economy is available online from the website of the Jesuit Curia in Rome: 

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