The International Conference “A Politics Rooted in the People” was an online event which took place on 15 April, and organised principally by the Centre for Theology and Community, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Katholische Hochschule für Sozialwesen in Germany. However, there was a strong presence and input from people with a community organising background (people active in Citizens UK, for example) but also from Ireland, Italy, Portugal and the United States of America.
There were various elements to the conference but one was led by Jessica Wilkinson, Youth Coordinator for the Leeds Diocese, along with Tom Chigbo (Senior Organiser for Leeds Citizens) and Rev Dr Joe Cortis (who heads up Caritas Leeds). Youth Officer Ryan Wilkinson had put together a video about the group known as ‘The Twelve’. This is a group of young adults and older children who have been meeting regularly throughout lockdown to explore their faith and dialogue with Bishop Marcus about the issues that are important to young people. A lot of positive comments were received about this video and the workshop itself. The vidoe can be accessed here https://youtu.be/0WKOdif6unw
The conference theme was based on the title quote by Pope Francis (included in the book ‘Let us Dream’) and was all about how we reinvigorate a ‘Politics for the Common Good’. Pope Francis made a short video for the conference expounding this theme that politics ‘must not be for the people but with the people’. He encapsulated this idea with the phrase ‘inclusive populism’ – to distinguish it from the narrowly nationalistic trends that are seen in a number of countries today. It is about ‘securing a life for all people that is worthy of being called human’. This is something that cannot be done without taking true account of the culture and social values of communities.