I went to my first meeting of the peace and justice group in one of the local Catholic parishes, a small group of religious sisters and lay members of the church.
I became immediately aware I was the only male present, that’s not an unusual situation in church gatherings, but I thought that issues of peace and justice might have prompted some male response.
“Don’t men do peace and justice?” I asked.
“No”, said one of the sisters, “that’s what’s wrong with the world”.
Her response was tongue-in-cheek, but the point was valid. There aren’t many women at the forefront of international conflicts, nor are there many women involved in violence, nor are there many women involved in exploitation, nor are there many women involved in most of the activities that make the world a worse place.
I really enjoyed the meeting; there was discussion of big issues, about campaigning to get Ireland to keep its pledges on overseas aid, about urging Irish politicians to uphold Irish neutrality, about the need for non-violence and passive resistance if campaigns were to be successful. It made a change from usual church meetings I attend where the focus is on fund-raisers, or the heating in the church hall, or getting maintenance work done, or a hundred-and-one other dull things.
But why no men for peace and justice? Okay, there are men involved in most of the bad stuff in the world, but surely there are good guys as well?
My mind went back to the story of Good Friday, when all the men had fled; the women remained there with Jesus. On Easter morning, while the men remained locked away, the women went to the tomb to meet with the risen Lord.
Is the membership of Johnstown Peace and Justice Group all female because in a world that has no time for Jesus, it is a small group of women who remain faithful?