Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987. Access current and past issues here.
The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice is an agency of the Irish Jesuit Province, dedicated to undertaking social analysis and theological reflection in relation to issues of social justice, including housing and homelessness, penal policy, environmental justice, and economic ethics. Established in 1978 by a small group of Jesuits living and working in Ballymun, on the northside of Dublin city, the Centre was intended to promote social justice and critically examine issues of structural injustice and poverty.
The original focus was on researching and commenting on the high level of poverty, unemployment and poor access to jobs and training in Ireland at that time. Staff within the Centre also provided support to local community groups, for example in the area of strategic planning. As the years went by, the social challenges facing Ireland changed, and so too did the Centre. Theological Ethics in a Neoliberal Age is an effort to consider the economic ethics of Ireland in a time of prosperity few could have imagined in the 1970s.
The mission of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice is to promote justice for all through social analysis, theological reflection, action, education, and advocacy.
The Centre was founded in 1980, when Ireland was in the midst of serious economic recession, unemployment, and emigration. At that time, the Centre engaged heavily with the issues of poverty and inequality, economic justice and unemployment, drawing on the work of Jesuits living in communities who were on the margins of society due to economic deprivation. The focus on economic justice has persisted to the present day, producing analysis of economic inequality, ethics, and anti-poverty strategies across the decades. This work has adapted to changing circumstances, from the booming economy of the Celtic Tiger era, through the years of austerity following the 2008 crash, right up to this contemporary period of apparent recovery.
The long-standing work of Jesuits including Peter McVerry SJ in the area of homelessness and the issues that contribute to it and result from it has informed the Centre’s ongoing awareness-raising in the areas of housing policy and reform, housing inequality, and housing sector regulation.
The Centre has also advocated for penal policy reform, focussing on a wide range of issues including juvenile crime and the treatment of young adults in prison, overcrowding, women in prison, prison healthcare, rehabilitation and the impact on prisoner families.
As global awareness of the effects of climate breakdown has intensified, the Centre during the last decade has introduced advocacy on climate change and biodiversity to its agenda, tackling themes of population displacement, ecological economics and politics, and taking inspiration from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
Theological reflection has always been the nexus of the Centre’s work. Considering social issues from a Christian perspective which is guided by the tenets of Ignatian Spirituality is one of the unique aspects of JCFJ's approach.
The Centre’s team recently moved to new offices in Gardiner St, part of the inner city parish in North Dublin and works there together with Jesuit Refugee Services, the Irish Jesuit Mission Office, the Jesuit Community and the Jesuit inner city parish.
Work of the JCFJ
The societal issues that the Centre focuses on are complex and require thorough research and well considered plans for action. Rather than offering short-term solutions, independent analysis and reflection is undertaken in order to tackle structural injustice. The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has developed a reputation for credibility, competence and compassion in several key areas of public policy. The policy focus of their work shifts organically over time, as it is a priority of the Centre to respond in a relevant way to the changing needs of society.
Current focus areas include:
All JCFJ's work is grounded on Theological Reflection informed by Ignatian Spirituality and Catholic Social Teaching.
Values & Guiding Principles
- JCFJ's mission is underpinned by the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
- It is recognised that engaging the structural causes of injustice and exclusion demands an openness to learning and a willingness to consult outside native traditions. Humility is not just a practice to commit to in relationships but a way of proceeding in thinking critically.
- In solidarity with people on the margins, JCFJ works together with colleagues, partners, peers, educational institutions, political organisations, faith communities and people of goodwill to deploy knowledge, skills, and resources in responding to the signs of the times.
- Fostering change by challenging economic, social and political structures that perpetuate injustice and exclusion in speech and actions.
- Ignatian Inspiration
- Drawing upon characteristic Ignatian practices, to seek right relationships directed towards contemplative activism.
The JCFJ is an initiative of the Society of Jesus in Ireland, implementing the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society, especially the task of walking with the excluded and caring for our common home. JCFJ works closely with the Jesuit European Social Centre in Brussels and is an active participant in the Higher Education for Social Transformation project. Member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition and collaborators within EcoJesuit.