Articles tagged with: Gerry O'Hanlon SJ

Justice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

on Friday, 09 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Economics, Church

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

PdfIconJustice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

Justice in the Global Economy is a concise account of the crisis which humanity is currently facing: ‘We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental’ (Laudato Si’, § 139). Of particular interest is the recommendation that Jesuits and colleagues have direct engagement with poorer communities and, in particular, that we turn ‘our institutions into instruments for economic justice’.1 The latter is spelled out in terms of harnessing research resources and advancing knowledge in favour of poorer people, networking to focus on policy issues, lobbying in this direction, and realising the potential of our professional schools in faculty, students and alumni to bring about changes to the status quo.2

Catholic Social Teaching and Housing

on Friday, 22 May 2015. Posted in Issue 76 A Dysfunctional Housing System?

PdfIconCatholic Social Teaching and Housing

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ


‘Have youse (yis) no homes to go to?’ – the traditional, plaintive cry of long-suffering publicans, trying to clear their premises after closing time, can sound somewhat hollow and ironic to many in today’s Ireland. We live at a time when housing supply does not meet demand; when, in the wake of the collapse of the property bubble, home-owners may struggle to meet mortgage repayments and many fear re-possession; where those in negative equity may find themselves unable to move from their current home even when there are pressing family or financial reasons for them to do so; where waiting lists for social housing are at an alarmingly high level, and where many are unable to access or remain in private rented accommodation because of unaffordable increases in rents in many areas.

Catholic Social Teaching and Inequality

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconCatholic Social Teaching and Inequality

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

The Question

My 92 year old uncle Rory recalls with fondness a time back in the 1940s and '50s when he used to go for the odd drink in summer time with the then-goalkeeper of the Irish soccer team, a relative through marriage. Rory, a tradesman, was earning about IR£10 a week; Tommy, a soccer star playing in England, earned about IR£20. The differential in earnings was no bar to social relations. Would there be the same ease of relations if the footballer were earning a 100 times, a 1,000 times what the ordinary person earns, as is the situation today?

In the Preface to their book, The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett state: ‘At an intuitive level people have always recognized that inequality is socially corrosive’.1 They go on to argue that, beyond intuition, the evidence shows that less equal societies have poorer outcomes in nearly every social domain.2 This implies, counter-intuitively, that even the very rich benefit from a more equal society.

Restoring the Fabric of Irish Economic and Social Life – A Theological Reflection (Part Two)

on Wednesday, 12 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Economics, Church

Gerry O'Hanlon SJ

For Part One of this article click here.


In Part One of this article,1 I discussed some of the core features of the currently dominant economic model and the part they played in bringing about our prolonged economic crisis. In particular, I raised questions regarding the overarching role accorded to ‘the market’ and the increase in the size and reach of the financial sector; the growth in inequality in incomes and wealth; and the underlying assumption that ‘growth is good’. I suggested, in Part One, that there is need to construct a ‘redemption narrative’ which can offer ‘vision and hope, galvanising our society towards effective action’. In this second part, I will look at the socio-cultural, political and theological resources which might contribute to that process.

Restoring the Fabric of Irish Economic and Social Life: A Theological Reflection (Part One)

on Friday, 19 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions

Banking or gambling? © iStock
Banking or gambling?                  © iStock



Writing in the euphoric aftermath of the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and of President Barack Obama in May 2011, but in the context of the ongoing economic crisis, clinical psychologist, Maureen Gaffney, noted that people respond to big crises in two main ways – ‘by constructing redemption stories or contamination stories’, and said that ‘these stories significantly affect how people respond to the crisis’.1

A New Economic Paradigm?

Written by Gerry O'Hanlon SJ on Thursday, 31 March 2011. Posted in Issue 63 A New Economic Paradigm?, 2010

A New Economic Paradigm?


The virus of global recession, with its virulent manifestation in Ireland, has raised the question of what antidotes are possible. What lessons can we learn from the past, in order to plot a more secure way into the future? In particular, the question arises as to whether we need to consider a new, more socially responsible, economic model, and not just a reform of the old one, which arguably, despite its undoubted partial successes, has shown itself to be unsustainable.1

A New Economic Paradigm? In the Concrete

on Thursday, 31 March 2011. Posted in Issue 64 What Direction for Recovery?

Towards a New Model

A New Economic Paradigm? In the Concrete – Towards a New Model

A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at ... (Oscar Wilde)

It is good to remember that utopia is nothing but the reality of tomorrow and that today’s reality is yesterday’s utopia. (Le Corbusier)

Politics left to managers and economics left to brokers add up to a recipe for social and environmental chaos. (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury1)

The Great Transition – New Economics Foundation

In October 2009, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), an independent think-and-do tank based in Britain, published The Great Transition,2 its version of how things could ‘turn out right’ by 2050. The transition in question is to an economic model capable of responding to the situation of crisis that we find ourselves in and based on the values outlined in the first article in this series, published in the March 2010 issue of Working Notes.3 The model contains seven major steps, some aspects of which I will outline briefly.


Some Christian Perspectives on Health and Sickness

on Wednesday, 03 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ
May, 2009

Some Christian Perspectives on Health and Sickness


‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’ – this, now non-politically correct, maxim from the North of England applies pretty well to the common human experience of taking good health for granted, while becoming anxious at the onset of illness. But, of course, there may be good reason for such anxiety – even minor ill-health causes inconvenience and loss of energy, while major illness, chronic or acute, brings great suffering and raises serious life and death questions. In what follows, I want to propose some Christian perspectives on health and sickness that may help to address some of the questions that arise at both a personal and a societal level.

Crime and Punishment: A Christian Perspective

on Wednesday, 02 July 2008. Posted in Issue 58 Time for Justice?

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ
July, 2008

pdf Crime and Punishment: A Christian Perspective



Balancing the diverse elements of justice

At the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles, it was usual to distinguish between paramilitary prisoners and ODCs – ‘ordinary decent criminals’. The terminology is suggestive, even provocative: is it ever right to consider criminals as ‘ordinary’, much less ‘decent’? Certainly, it would be altogether wrong to trivialise the plight of victims, and especially victims of violent crime, by too lightly using a euphemism like ‘ordinary decent criminals’.

How Much Equality is Needed for Justice?

on Tuesday, 13 November 2007. Posted in Issue 56 The Anniversary Issue

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, theologian and staff member of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
November, 2007

How much redistribution is needed for Justice?

pdf How Much Equality is Needed for Justice?




Critics of Ireland’s decade-long economic boom often, with an eye to justice, express considerable concern about ‘rising inequality and about the core features of the strategy adopted by the Government to combat poverty’.1 This is so despite the fact that since 1994 the percentage of the population living in ‘consistent poverty’ appears to have fallen from 16 per cent to 7 per cent.2 However, since the late 1990s, ‘relative income poverty’ has persistently remained around 20 per cent, higher than it was in 1994.3 Would it be more just to return to a poorer but more equal Ireland, or is this the wrong kind of question to ask? Can we say instead that this is not a choice Ireland needs to make?4


We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

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.