Letter to the members of the three Comboni Institutes on Justice/Peace and the Integrity of Creation
1. Filled with fresh hope, the three general councils of the Comboni institutes greet you at the beginning of the new Millenium. May God’s Spirit empower us in this jubilee year 2000 to live our Comboni missionary vocation with a renewed commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
Purpose and content
2. We address this letter to all the members of the three Comboni institutes. May it strengthen the process of reflection and discussion, prayer and conversion in this jubilee year and lead to a deeper analysis and to joint action!
In our missionary service we shed the light of God’s Word on the social, economic, political and religious reality in which we live. Together with the Christian communities, we work for integral human development. It is our aim to empower people so that they become agents of justice, peace and their own liberation. Drawing from Scripture and our Comboni tradition we want to widen the horizon to the global context and set some pointers for concrete action. We hope that this may help us to let the commitment to justice, peace and integrity of creation “come down from our heads to our hearts.”
Justice and Peace and recent Synods
3. Over the last 40 years the commitment of the Church to justice, peace and integrity of creation has passed from the periphery of mission to its heart.
The Synod of Bishops of 1971 gave great impetus to this development with the widely known text: “Action on behalf of Justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
The Synod for Africa offers a concrete application: “If the proclamation of justice and peace is an integral part of the task of evangelization, it follows that the promotion of these values should also be a part of the pastoral program of each Christian community.” .
The Synod for America invites us to work together with people of other religions: “Persons of different beliefs must feel themselves drawn … to work together for peace and justice.”
The Synod for Asia extends the invitation to all humankind: “In the service of the human family, the Church reaches out to all men and women without distinction, striving to build with them a civilization of love, founded upon the universal values of peace, justice, solidarity and freedom, which find their fulfillment in Christ.”
In the final message of the Synod for Europe the bishops call upon Europeans to be committed to the welfare of the whole world such as supporting the cancellation of debts of the poorest nations.
II. The world in which we live and work as missionaries
Towards an analysis
4. Before we reflect on our concrete action for justice, peace and integrity of creation we need to look at the world of today.
On the threshold of the twenty first century a “globalized” society is spreading all over the world and interacting in various ways with local and traditional cultures and societies. It is experienced in different ways in the various regions of our planet. At times it is beneficial, at times threatening and at times corrupting. It reaches everywhere and yet, it is hard to grasp. It is ambiguous, ambivalent, with both positive aspects and destructive ones for the life of the people. What may be advantageous for one country may be detrimental for another and set off a negative chain reaction.
5. “There is an economic globalization which brings some positive consequences such as efficiency and increased production which, with the development of economic links between different countries, can help to bring greater unity among peoples and make possible a better service to the human family.”
Technological transformation and communication offer new possibilities for knowledge and creativity. This leads to an increase of higher quality products at better prices and to a better control of some diseases. In fact the expansion of material goods could create hope for everyone.
The “globalized” society makes cultural and religious exchange easier and offers new possibilities by providing access to the way in which groups of people live, think and feel. Never before has there been the possibility of having such an insight into the underlying systems of values, meanings and views of the world, which are expressed in a given culture, in language, gestures, symbols, rituals and styles. The free flow of information on the world wide web helps local and non-governmental justice and peace groups to network in their effort of promoting human rights and the rights of marginalized groups and minorities.
One of the signs of hope present at the turn of the millennium is a greater awareness of our responsibility for the environment. The renewed interest of people in the earth and in the equitable use of the world’s resources is increasingly seen as a matter of justice toward future generations who will inherit whatever we leave them.
Problems and challenges
6. While acknowledging the positive values of globalization, we are concerned about the problems and challenges which seem to take different forms in each continent where we live and work as missionaries.
7. Africa is a continent with diverse situations. In a world controlled by rich and powerful nations it is often considered an irrelevant appendix but in fact is exploited and even manipulated. Many African nations are still in the grip of famine, war, racial and tribal tensions, political instability and the violation of human rights.
Certain problems have their roots outside the continent and therefore are not entirely under the control of those in power or of national leaders. But others are the result of a manner of governing often stained by corruption, tribalism, mismanagement and the lack of commitment to the common good on the part of political leaders.
In spite of a growing global awareness of human rights, there are still customs and practices which deprive women of their rights and the respect due to them.
Increasing poverty, uncontrolled urbanization, corruption, the international debt, the arms trade, the problem of refugees and displaced persons, demographic concerns and threats to the family, the spread of AIDS, the survival of the practice of slavery in some places, figure among the fundamental issues in Africa.
8. In America we encounter problems that threaten the dignity of the human person, the family, marriage, education, working conditions, the quality of life and life itself. Neo-liberalism leads to massive external debt, unemployment and the reduction and deterioration of public services. Further consequences are: the destruction of the environment and natural resources, the growing distance between rich and the landless poor, together with the exclusion and cultural repression of minority groups such as indigenous and Afro Americans who are put in a situation of ever increasing inferiority.
“Unfortunately, in many parts of America women still meet forms of discrimination. It can be said that the face of the poor in America is also the face of many women.”
Poverty and underdevelopment in rural areas and the allure of entertainment and prosperity in the city are indications of the complex phenomenon of urbanization.
Corruption affects public structures as well as individuals. It creates a situation which encourages impunity, the illicit accumulation of money and the lack of trust both in political institutions and in the administration of justice.
The drug trade and drug abuse represent a grave threat to the social fabric of American nations. It contributes to crime and violence, to the physical and emotional destruction of many individuals and communities and it also leads to the ruin of governments and erodes economic security.
The stockpiling of weapons in some countries is a cause of instability and a threat to peace.
The weight of the economic, political and military power of the North over the rest of the continent results in an unhealthy imbalance.
9. Rapid changes are taking place within Asian societies. Among them is the emergence of huge urban conglomerations, often with large depressed areas where organized crime, terrorism, and the exploitation of the weaker sectors of society thrive.
Migration too is a major social phenomenon, exposing millions of people to situations which are difficult economically, culturally and morally. People migrate within Asia and from Asia because of poverty, war, ethnic conflicts, and the denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The establishment of giant industrial complexes is another cause of internal and external migration, with accompanying destructive effects on family life and values. There are also religious reasons for migration such as the steady departure of Christians from countries of the Middle East.
Tourism has a devastating influence upon morality in many Asian countries, manifested in the degradation of young women and even children through prostitution.
Several Asian countries face difficulties related to population growth, which is not merely a demographic or economic problem but especially a moral one.
There are millions of oppressed people who for centuries have been kept economically, culturally and politically on the margins of society.
The poverty and exploitation of women remains a serious problem throughout the continent.
There are also millions of indigenous people throughout Asia living in social, cultural and political isolation from the dominant population.
Existing religious tensions are at times manipulated to serve political ends.
10. In Europe we find an increasing economic inequality between East and West, with violent nationalism and hedonistic individualism as negative consequences.
Unemployment in some places in Eastern Europe runs at more than 50 percent.
There is an all-too-real danger of a new division of the continent.
One result of economic chaos has been massive Eastern migration to the West accompanied by an influx of new immigrants from Northern Africa, the Middle East and other countries. This has confronted more affluent Northern European nations with vast demands for social services. At precisely this moment of threat to the poor and newly marginalized, European governments are rolling back their social safety nets. Immigration laws have been tightened and reflect a growing “fortress” mentality.
The human person is valued according to the capacity to make money; this intensifies individualism and the race to earn and to own; the weak and the sick fall by the wayside.
11. The consumption of fossil fuels together with the ongoing deforestation produces a greenhouse effect leading to atmospheric pollution and to an increase in temperature which could provoke incalculable disasters linked to drought and to the rising level of the oceans.
The emission into the atmosphere of industrial chemicals (CFCs), found in dry cleaning solvents, sprays, and various insecticides leads to the destruction of the ozone layer which protects life from the ultraviolet radiation responsible for various diseases.
There is a global and systematic attack on life. Many species of animals and plants are threatened by extinction. Fertile land is misused and air, water and land poisoned through pollution. The death of trees and rainforests, the threat of desertification of many parts of the world with the inevitable consequences of hunger and misery are all cause for concern.
The population of the world is growing rapidly while two thirds of the world’s population are poor.
The main contaminators of the planet are the rich and industrialized countries. They are also responsible for the use, misuse, waste and appropriation of the world’s resources.
12. National economies are destabilized by the free flow of international financial speculation which leads to food shortages in spite of increased food production. Projects of multinational companies often do not take the local population into account. Poor people are seen as an obstacle and threat to the interests of the economic and political elite. This leads to immense imbalances and a great concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a few. Whole communities are destroyed because of structural injustice, and as a consequence criminality, social unrest, inequality, misery, greed, corruption and violence are on the increase worldwide.
The debt burden
13. While there is plenty of blame for the increase in foreign debt to go round – irresponsible creditors, corrupt borrowers –, the bottom line is that governments of impoverished countries are diverting limited resources from meeting the basic needs of their people, from health care, education, and other socially beneficial programs to pay the interest. Much of the debt is the result of ill-conceived development projects, the flawed policies that creditors required of recipient countries in exchange for assistance, and shortsighted decisions of their own leaders. Much of the borrowing benefited only the elite in the receiving countries and the arms trade, whereas the burden of paying the debt falls upon the most impoverished members of society.
War or warlike situations
14. Many of us have been working for years in situations of war and continued violence. The war in Sudan e.g. has produced so much suffering and the death of two million people. Many have been born, have grown up and died in the middle of this war and did not know any other reality. But for some people inside and outside the country the war has become good business.
The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has killed thousands of people and nobody can give an answer as to the why.
The sad story of the war in the region of the Great Lakes, especially in Congo, has left many thousands dead, others are refugees or homeless within their own countries.
Uganda, Colombia, Mexico and other countries are experiencing ethnic or political tensions that have their roots in regional or at times even global interests.
The many faces of poverty
15. When widening our horizon we realize that poverty has many faces. It is much more than low income. It also reflects poor health and education, deprivation in knowledge and communication, inability to exercise human and political rights and the absence of dignity, self-confidence, self-respect and security.
There is the impoverishment of entire nations, poverty that destroys the identity of the local cultures and religions where essentially everyone lives in poverty. And, there is also environmental impoverishment. Behind these faces of poverty lies the grim reality of desperate lives without choices, and, often, governments that lack the capacity to cope.
In the world and for the world
16. In this wounded world we are called to search for concrete answers and to reach out to all men and women without distinction, striving to build with them a civilization of love, founded upon the universal values of peace, justice, solidarity and freedom and on the integrity of creation. We want to deepen our awareness of the causes and consequences of the current problems and foster among ourselves a new way of thinking and acting. To achieve this we need to be nourished by the Word of God and motivated by the Comboni charism.
III. God’s dream, a life giving relationship
Inspired by biblical justice and the jubilee year
17. The Hebrew words for justice in the Bible (sedeq, mishpat, sedaqah) refer to the solidarity with a group of people rather than to the rights of individual persons. These words have all to do with social relationships.
They also reflect who Yahweh is. “Moved by compassion, God vindicates the rights of the oppressed against the agents of death.” This distinguishes Yahweh from the other gods. The Exodus story of the Bible presents Yahweh as the God of the victims of political, economic, cultural and religious systems.
The book of Leviticus describes a Jubilee Year every fifty years during which social inequalities are rectified: slaves are freed, land is returned to the original owners, and debts are cancelled. Biblical justice means to sort out what belongs to whom, and to return it to them. It calls for the right distribution of goods and for the access to the sources of life. When things are alienated from those to whom they belong by God’s design, there can only be conflict, disorder and death. Biblical justice expects and causes things to change, and things must change if there is to be abundant life.
The Kingdom of God and life giving relationships
18. Jesus never defined the Kingdom of God. He described it in parables and in concepts like life, glory, joy and light.
Paul describes the content of the Kingdom of God with “justice, peace and joy.”
In the New Testament the concept of justice is linked to the Kingdom theme insofar as justice refers to life-giving relationships. The whole ministry of Jesus is geared towards re-establishing those relationships on which the covenant was built. His image of God as the compassionate one and the Good Shepherd is concerned with life-giving relationships. His constant critique of those who ostracized whole groups and his untiring effort to bring the marginalized back into the covenant community indicate how Jesus perceived his mission. He saw it in terms of re-establishing relationships which would give life to those whose life had been “diminished” because injustice had been done to them. He demanded the establishment of God-willed relationships, worthy of the Kingdom that had come with him.
Integrity of Creation
19. We belong to creation and creation has been entrusted to us, but we are not the lords over creation. The Bible is clear on the fact that creation has its own dignity, its own rights and reasons for being, quite apart from its role of sustaining humans. Creation is not there primarily to meet human needs.
The Bible asserts that Yahweh tends creation. God can and does reach into areas which are inaccessible to humans. The Noah story embodies a concern for the whole web of creation and, therefore, when Yahweh commanded Noah to conserve nature, it has a profound message for our modern world. In the book of Job God asserts that creation is meant to serve all creatures. The Bible has, however, no ready-made answers to ecological questions.
Jesus himself was in tune with nature and walked “lightly” on the earth. He enjoyed an intimacy with the created world which is evident from his parables and stories.
Based on our faith in Jesus Christ, we are continuously challenged to respond in a creative way to today’s problems concerning the integrity of creation.
Shalom - the fullness of life
20. Peace is a reality that follows wherever justice reigns. Peace cannot exist without justice. When Jesus heals a person he says: “Go in peace.” This peace is not only physical but social as well. The Hebrew word shalom means wholeness, reconciliation. It is the condition of those who live in complete harmony with themselves, with their fellow-people, with nature and with God. It means not only the absence of war but also the fullness of life. Like the Kingdom it is both a gift and an urgent task for the Christian.
The “peacemakers” of the beatitudes are people who actively commit themselves to bring about peace in its full biblical sense, people who are prepared to face the issues, to tackle the obstacles which prevent such peace, if necessary by direct action.
Shalom is the ultimate state of fulfillment, the reconciliation of the whole created world with God. This is the peace that Jesus was to bring to this world.
God needs us to set people free
21. The Lord is determined to set oppressed people free and end the suffering of this world. But he needs people who are willing to give their talents and gifts to discover new ways through which he then will accomplish his dream. God has created us for a specific service which he has not given to any other. The privilege of being a missionary consists in having been called to share in a special way in the mission of Christ for a life giving transformation of the world into God’s final design. In the Comboni missionary family we have a good tradition of this struggle for transformation.
IV. In the footsteps of Daniel Comboni and in line with our tradition
Comboni’s holistic option
22. Daniel Comboni had the transformation of the African world of his time at heart. He was sensitive to the human, social, religious and cosmic cry of Central Africa. It needed to be liberated from idolatry and superstition, but also from slavery, hunger, disease, famine and marginalization. Comboni described people who live in these or similar situations as “the poorest and most abandoned”. He made a preferential option in their favor and sought the collaboration of others. Full of hope he saw the purpose of mission in the “regeneration of Africa.” In our missionary presence and action we are challenged like Comboni by the current needs of Africa to make common cause with the African people.
This holistic missionary approach became part and parcel of the charism of his institutes. According to Comboni it is the task of missionaries to help build Christian African communities which contribute to the formation of a society according to the principle of justice and peace. That is why Comboni not only wanted seminaries for the formation of local priests and pastoral agents, but also universities for the training of African leaders in the political, cultural and scientific fields.
His methodology is still valid today when we work for justice and peace: to empower local people as the main agents of their own liberation and transformation , to show and practice solidarity with them, to network around the world , to be part of a team , and to aim for integral human promotion.
In Comboni’s footsteps
23. In the Comboni missionary family we have a tradition of engaging in the struggle against injustice. Some of our members, because of their commitment to justice and peace were expelled from several countries and others who remained were violated, misused and even killed. Our magazines also distinguished themselves by denouncing injustices. This evangelical dimension is already present in our ‘Rules’ which invite us to engage in the struggle for total human liberation and to promote the values of the Kingdom.
We need to grow in this commitment, to name and examine the root causes of systemic structures of oppression in the economic, political, social, cultural and religious fields. We are challenged to build the culture of non-violence and of peace and to promote the respect and the defense of Human Rights and of Creation.
24. With the beginning of the new millenium we live in a favored time. It challenges us to make a special effort in building life giving relationships that bring us closer to a society where all people live in dignity as sisters and brothers in harmony with all of creation.
We long for a society in which no one remains excluded from work and from access to basic goods; a society in which all can live securely, look towards the future with hope, share the natural environment and preserve the beauty and species of the animal and plant world for the generations to come.
We long for a society based on solidarity and fundamental equality and complementarity of women and men where nobody is exploited because of sex, age or race. We long for a society where globalization serves the human person rather than aiming at profit.
We envision a society which respects the cultural traditions of each nation, and is sensitive to the weak and marginalized.
We dream of a democratic society which also integrates traditional decision making and is based on Gospel values.
V. Our commitment to building life giving relationships
The need for conversion
25. God’s dream and our commitment to building life-giving relationships are very different from the current “prosperity” model. Development identified with economic growth does not take into account the majority of the people in the world nor does it lead to justice and peace since it is rooted in the personal violence of greed. The resources on which this “prosperity” is based are limited and therefore, liable, sooner or later, to run out.
God gives us a world with resources abundant enough for everyone’s nourishment, shelter and even for sharing. It is by being in harmony with the whole of God’s creation that we fulfill our mission as human persons. We are aware of the changes required in our attitudes, life-style, habits, skills, organization, and priorities without which we cannot help building a society of justice and peace.
To start within our own ranks
26. Reconciliation within our own ranks is the first step towards building life-giving relationships. Each one of us is challenged to move from the “I” of ones’ own plans to the “we” of harmony in diversity through solidarity, mutuality and dialogue. Wherever we succeed to break down walls of division and prejudice we overcome the forces that lead to death and create prophetic openness towards a future of grace, justice, peace and reconciliation with God, with our brothers and sisters and with creation. The spirit of the Jubilee is the logic of the Gospel that calls for a change of hearts to replace injustice with justice, despair with hope, hatred with forgiveness.
New challenges for ongoing formation
27. A qualified missionary ministry today requires a continuous process of renewal and growth and a thorough preparation to deal with the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious realities. All our commitments must therefore, be based on a valid global analysis, a sound creation spirituality and the social/political teaching of the church. We need to examine our formation programs in this light, make use of the thirst of young people for justice, peace and the integrity of creation and work on situations in our own life that are not in line with this commitment.
Re-qualification of our missionary service
28. There is a wide scope for re-qualifying our missionary service. This means that some will need a preparation in the field of economics, politics, human rights questions, conflict resolution, peace building and social communication. Some will need a specific preparation to live and work in situations of violence and war.
A radical change in attitude
29. The present ecological crisis gives new meaning and urgency to the Gospel’s invitation to a simpler life style. An act of sensitivity to the environment is not easy to decide upon, especially when the poor themselves usually cannot afford ecologically sound options. Something considered normal in one culture may have quite a different significance in another. With respect for the people we use material means and resources well: energy and water, paper, books, vehicles, tools, machinery, computers and other professional equipment.
There are both personal and communal opportunities to avoid unnecessary environmental pollution, and to be aware of the consequences of our choices. Choosing to live simply may include buying with care, using less, re-educating, reducing waste, recycling, re-using and repairing. Any particular choice may be small, a practically insignificant gesture, but it has a value as a sign of sensitivity to the rights of others and to future generations, and of respect for creation.
Sensitivity to people and their rights
30. To work well requires professional competence and organizational efficiency, and in vital tension with these are the Gospel values of charity, forgiveness, gratuity, reconciliation and hospitality. The place where we work and live should be physically accessible and culturally welcoming to the people for and with whom we work. This includes just wages, social security, good working conditions and other requirements of justice. Realizing how some poor people actually face their hardships and survive could be an indispensable compass for our economic comprehension, cooperation and action.
Investment and financial administration
31. It is a continued challenge to avoid investing in corporations involved in the production of war material, in child labor, in the exploitation of women and in excessive environmental degradation. Pope John Paul II speaks of human responsibility “to limit the risks to creation by keeping in view not just revenue and profitability, but the common good and the sustainable development of peoples.” Exercising responsibility for our financial resources may begin with taking care to use money well. At the very least this means using it honestly, not being arbitrary, accounting for income and expenses with transparency, and using accounting methods appropriate to the size and type of a given project. If we are not transparent in financial matters at personal and community levels we cannot lobby against corruption, mismanagement and economic injustice at national and international levels.
Networking and cooperation
32. The experience of the complexity of social issues and the relative powerlessness of an isolated individual effort calls for networking in advocacy and lobbying. Networking means pooling creativity, intelligence and strength with those of others to face major problems of great complexity.
Modern technologies (Internet) make networking ever more possible and inexpensive. Effective networking, like any other social project, requires good planning, leadership, discipline and resource. Cooperation often means sacrificing one’s own preferences or immediate interests. We acknowledge complexity, diversity and pluralism, and we affirm cooperation itself as a positive value and an important sign of the times. Those with whom we cooperate may be individuals, groups, organizations, public entities, churches and intergovernmental bodies.
The types of cooperation include exchange of information or joint work on specific issues, involvement in coalitions and participation in networks.
Cooperation in the Comboni Institutes
33. We give special emphasis to the cooperation within and between the Comboni institutes in the light of the complementarity of ministries and seek to unify and integrate initiatives among ourselves that are done by charismatic individuals on a rather personal basis. Cooperation itself is a significant witness to the new world that we believe in, hope for and work for.
VI. Pointers for concrete action
34. To allow our commitment for justice, peace and integrity of creation to come down from “our head to our heart” we plan in our personal lives and in our local communities a concrete action program. In analyzing the personal, community and social/political context and after community discernment we may discover surprising opportunities to heal internal conflicts and also to develop initiatives in areas like: liturgies, reconciliation, awareness building, marginalization, ecology, situations of violence, human rights issues, land issues, employment, ethnic conflicts, corruption, child labor, role of women, homeless, landless, lobbying etc.
Provincial and continental level
35. At provincial and continental level coordination shall help to facilitate the different efforts and widen the horizon beyond the urgently felt local needs.
The provinces and delegations and, where applicable, the continents draw up awareness and training programs for their members.
They also commit themselves to select and train some lay people - favoring women where possible - to be agents for justice, peace and reconciliation in their own country.
They also shall highlight and disseminate local and continental JPIC issues, support networking and lobbying on provincial, inter-provincial and continental level and, prepare special JPIC pages in our Comboni magazines.
36. At the level of the institutes we support the provinces and communities with special attention to the global and intercontinental concerns and coordinate global networking.
37. We dedicate the year 2000 to prayer for peace and invite our families and friends to do the same. By joining information and lobbying networks we support efforts that push for more justice and peace in national and international decision making like the cancellation of unpayable and unjust debt. We participate in and organize letter writing campaigns involving benefactors, human rights groups, other missionary institutes, Bishop’s Conferences and the Vatican. (appeals e.g. to the United Nations’ Secretary General, the Security Council, World Bank, IMF, WTO, the European Parliament, the US government, the governments of our provinces etc.).
Special jubilee initiative of the Comboni institutes
38. The jubilee year is a unique opportunity to push for reconciliation, peace and for an end of the wars in countries where we work, like Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia , Sudan etc.
We feel united in a special way to the Sudanese people in their painful struggle for justice and peace. Together with them we share and treasure the work and message of Daniel Comboni and the efforts of the sisters, brothers, lay people and priests who followed in his footsteps. For 45 years, conflict and war have dominated the social, economic, political and religious lives of the people. We note with great concern the agonizing effects of this war: the loss of so many innocent lives, the huge number of displaced people and refugees, resulting in so much suffering, impoverishment and dehumanization. The root causes of this ongoing civil war are complex, but include economic exploitation, monopoly of political power, racial and religious discrimination, disputes over natural resources, political weakness, a lack of democracy and a common vision for the future.
We condemn the ongoing religious harassment like confiscating church property, bulldozing of schools and prayer centers, use of food for proselytization and imprisonment of church personnel.
We appreciate the various efforts for peace making: the letters of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the initiatives of forming a national justice and peace commission, the reconciliation gatherings of the New Sudan Council of Churches, various other reconciliation and peace-making efforts at international and grass-root level.
39. The three general councils of the Comboni institutes have decided to help create and sustain in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo etc. a society of peace with justice and respect for the dignity of the human person. In working for this goal they have appointed a Jubilee committee. The committee shall develop concrete programs and organize initiatives ad intra and ad extra of the Comboni institutes.
Initiatives ad intra could be along the following lines: training in a theology of active non-violence and in the preparation for work in violent societies and places of risk, helping members of our institutes to cope emotionally with experiences of instability and violence as well as training in peace building and in conflict resolution.
Initiatives ad extra could be: Peace building and conflict resolution conferences or workshops, together with interested church and other organizations in the context of the war torn African countries.
40. The Jubilee Year in ancient Israel wasn’t practiced to perfection. But some debts were cancelled, some servants set free and some land returned to those who had lost it. The periodic Jubilee Year was a good course correction because it set a lot of people back on their feet.
In his apostolic letter “The Coming Third Millenium” Pope John Paul II clearly states: “It will be necessary, especially during this year, to emphasize the theological virtue of charity… From this point of view … how can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church’s preferential option for the poor and the outcast? … Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world.”
This is an invitation to look at the world, the church and our Comboni family with the eyes of the poor, “to be present in their midst with simplicity, committing ourselves to the defense of life and the removal of the causes of poverty in the world.
Celebrating the jubilee of redemption, in the context of the present social, economic, political and religious difficulties, we are inspired anew by Comboni’s passion for the regeneration and transformation of the world. Our common tradition invites us to make a fresh start into the third millenium with the impetus and courage of blessed Daniel Comboni and move from the Pierced Heart of Jesus - the source of life and reconciliation - to the Heart of today’s world.
May the Jubilee Year help us to live more simply, more justly, more respectfully and in greater solidarity with all of God’s creation.
Rome, 1 January, 2000
World Day of Peace
Program of Action on a Culture of Peace of the United Nations
A. Aims, strategies and main actors
1. The Program of Action should serve as the basis for the International Year for the Culture of Peace and the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
2. Member States are encouraged to take actions for promoting a culture of peace at the national level as well as at the regional and international levels.
3. Civil society should be involved at the local, regional and national levels to widen the scope of activities on a culture of peace.
4. The United Nations system should strengthen its ongoing efforts for promoting a culture of peace.
5. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization should continue to play its important role in and make major contributions to the promotion of a culture of peace.
6. Partnerships between and among the various actors as set out in the Declaration should be encouraged and strengthened for a global movement for a culture of peace.
7. A culture of peace could be promoted through sharing of information among actors on their initiatives in this regard.
8. Effective implementation of the program of action requires mobilization of resources, including financial resources, by interested Governments, organizations and individuals.
B. Strengthening actions at the national, regional and international levels by all relevant actors.
9. Actions fostering a culture of peace through education:
a) Reinvigorate national efforts and international cooperation to promote the goals of education for all with a view to achieving human, social and economic development and for promoting a culture of peace;
b) Ensure that children, from an early age, benefit from education on the values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life to enable them to resolve any dispute peacefully and in a spirit of respect for human dignity and of tolerance and non-discrimination;
c) Involve children in activities for instilling in them the values and goals of a culture of peace;
d) Ensure equality of access for women, especially girls, to education;
e) Encourage revision of educational curricula, including textbooks bearing in mind the 1995 Declaration and Integrated Framework of Action on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy for which technical cooperation should be provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization upon request;
f) Encourage and strengthen efforts by actors as identified in the Declaration, in particular the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aimed at developing values and skills conducive to a culture of peace, including education and training in promoting dialogue and consensus-building.
g) Strengthen the ongoing efforts of the relevant entities of the United Nations system aimed at training and education, where appropriate, in the areas of conflict prevention/crisis management, peaceful settlement of disputes as well as in post-conflict peace-building;
h) Expand initiatives promoting a culture of peace undertaken by institutions of higher education in various parts of the world including the United Nations University, the University for Peace and the project for twinning universities/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chairs Program.
10. Actions to promote sustainable economic and social development:
a) Undertake comprehensive actions on the basis of appropriate strategies and agreed targets to eradicate poverty through national and international efforts, including through international cooperation.
b) Strengthening the national capacity for implementation of policies and programs designed to reduce economic and social inequalities within nations through, interalia, international cooperation;
c) Promoting effective and equitable development-oriented and durable solutions to the external debt and debt-servicing problems of developing countries, interalia, through debt relief;
d) Reinforcement of actions at all levels to implement national strategies for sustainable food security, including the development of actions to mobilize and optimize the allocation and utilization of resources from all sources, including through international cooperation such as resources coming from debt relief;
e) Further efforts to ensure that development process is participatory and that development projects involve the full participation of all;
f) Integrating a gender perspective and empowering women and girls should be an integral part of the developing process;
g) Development strategies should include special measures focusing on needs of women and children as well as groups with special needs;
h) Development assistance in post-conflict situations should strengthen rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation processes involving all engaged in the conflict;
i) Capacity-building in development strategies and projects to ensure environmental sustainability, including preservation and regeneration of the natural resource base;
j) Removing obstacles to the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in particular of people living under colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation adversely affecting their social and economic development.
11. Actions to promote respect for all human rights:
a) Full implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action;
b) Encouraging development of national plans of action for the promotion and protection of all human rights;
c) Strengthening of national institutions and capacities in the field of human rights, including through national human rights institutions;
d) Realization and implementation of the right to development, as established in the Declaration on the Right to Development and the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.
e) Achievement of the goals of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004)
f) Dissemination and promotion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at all levels;
g) Further support for the activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the fulfillment of her/his mandate as established in General Assembly resolution 48/141 of December 1993, as well as responsibilities set by subsequent resolutions and decisions.
12. Actions to ensure equality between women and men:
a) Integration of a gender perspective into the implementation of all relevant international instruments;
b) Further implementation of international instruments promoting equality between women and men;
c) Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, with adequate resources and political will, and through, inter alia, the elaboration, implementation and follow-up of the national plans of action;
d) Promote equality between women and men in economic, social and political decision-making;
e) Further strengthening of efforts by the relevant entities of the United Nations system for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women;
f) Provision of support and assistance to women who have become victims of any forms of violence, including in the home, workplace and during armed conflicts.
13. Actions to foster democratic participation:
a) Reinforcement of the full range of actions to promote democratic principles and practices;
b) Special emphasis on democratic principles and practices at all levels of formal, informal and non-formal education;
c) Establishment and strengthening of national institutions and processes that promote and sustain democracy through, inter alia, training and capacity building of public officials;
d) Strengthening democratic participation through, inter alia, the provision of electoral assistance upon request of States concerned and based on relevant United Nations guidelines;
e) Combat terrorism, organized crime, corruption as well as production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs and money laundering as they undermine democracies and impede the fuller development of a culture of peace.
14. Actions to advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity:
a) Implementation of the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and the Follow-up Plan of Action for the United Nations Year for Tolerance (1995);
b) Support activities in the context of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations in the year 2001;
c) Study further the local or indigenous practices and traditions of dispute settlement and promotion of tolerance with the objective of learning from them;
d) Support actions that foster understanding, tolerance and solidarity throughout society, in particular with vulnerable groups;
e) Further supporting the attainment of the goals of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People;
f) Support actions that foster tolerance and solidarity with refugees and displaced persons, bearing in mind the objective of facilitating their voluntary return and social integration;
g) Support actions that foster tolerance and solidarity with migrants;
h) Promotion of increased understanding, tolerance and cooperation among the peoples, inter alia, through appropriate use of the new technologies and dissemination of information;
i) Support actions that foster understanding, tolerance, solidarity and cooperation among peoples and within and among nations.
15. Actions to support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge:
a) Support the important role of the media in the promotion of a culture of peace;
b) Ensure freedom of the press and freedom of information and communication;
c) Making effective use of the media for advocacy and dissemination of information on a culture of peace involving, as appropriate, the United Nations and relevant regional, national and local mechanisms;
d) Promoting mass communication that enable communities to express their needs and participate indecision-making;
e) Taking measures to address the issue of violence in the media, including new communication technologies, inter alia, the Internet;
f) Increased efforts to promote the sharing of information on new information technologies, including the Internet.
16. Actions to promote international peace and security:
a) Promote general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, taking into account the priorities established by the United Nations in the field of disarmament;
b) Draw on, where appropriate, lessons conducive to a culture of peace learned from “military conversion” efforts as evidenced in some countries of the world;
c) Emphasize the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in all parts of the world;
d) Encourage confidence-building measurers and efforts for negotiating peaceful settlements;
e) Take measurers to eliminate illicit production and traffic of small arms and light weapons;
f) Support for initiatives, at the national, regional and international levels, to address concrete problems arising from post-conflict situations, such as demobilization , reintegration of former combatants into society, as well as refugees and displaced persons, weapon collection programs, exchange of information and confidence-building;
g) Discourage the adoption of and refrain from any unilateral measure, not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, that impedes the full achievement of economic and social development by the population of the affected countries, in particular women and children, that hinders their well-being, that creates obstacles to the full enjoyment of their human rights, including the right of everyone to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being and their right to food, medical care and the necessary social services, while reaffirming food and medicine must not be used as a tool for political pressure;
h) Refrain from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion, not in accordance with international law and the Charter, aimed against political independence or territorial integrity of any State;
i) Recommends proper consideration for the issue of humanitarian impact of sanctions, in particular on woman and children with a view of minimizing humanitarian effects of sanctions;
j) Promoting greater involvement of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts and, in particular, in activities promoting a culture of peace in post-conflict situations;
k) Promote initiatives in conflict situations such as days of tranquility to carry out immunization and medicine distribution campaigns; corridors of peace to ensure delivery of humanitarian supplies and sanctuaries of peace to respect the central role of health and medical institutions such as hospitalized and clinics;
l) Encourage training in techniques for the understanding, prevention and resolution of conflict for the concerned staff of the United Nations, relevant regional organizations and Member States, upon request, where appropriate.
· Vatican: http://www.vatican.va
· MISNA: http://www.misna.org
· EMI: http://www.emi.it
· SEDOS: http://www.sedos.org
· The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice: http://www.haguepeace.org
· Africa Europe Faith And Justice Network, Bruxelles:
· Third World Network: http://www.twnside.org.sg/souths/twn/trade.htm
· Focus on the global South: http://www.focusweb.org
· Oneworld http://www.oneworld.org/
· International Centre for Trade and sustainable Development (IATP) http://www.iatp.org
· Friends of the Earth
· Consumers International
· People for Fair Trade http://www.peopleforfairtrade.org
· Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch: http://www.tradewatch.org
· Millennium Round (European Parliament Green Party) http://www.millenniumround.org
· Institut pour l’agriculture et les politiques commerciales (IATP) http://www.iatp.org/
· Public Citizen. http://tradewatch.org/
· World Trade Organization (WTO) http://www.wto.org
· Commission Européene DG1 http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg0/dg1newround.htm
· Center of Concern http://www.coc.org/coc/
· Jesuit Social Apostolate Secretariat http://www.maple.lemoyene.edu/jesuit/sj/
· Jubillenium World Network http://www.jubillenium.com
· Jubillenium Manifesto 2000 http://www2.unesco.org/manifesto2000
· The Jubilee 2000 Project http://www.jubilee2000.org
· The Jubilee 2000/USA Campaign http://www.j2000usa.org
I. Introduction 1-3
Purpose and content 2
Justice and Peace and recent Synods 3
II. The world in which we live and work
as missionaries 4-16
Towards an analysis 4
Positive aspects 5
Problems and challenges 6
Ecological concern 11
Social Sin 12
The debt burden 13
War or warlike situations 14
The many faces of poverty 15
In the world and for the world 16
III. God’s dream, a life giving relationship 17-21
Inspired by biblical justice and the jubilee year 17
The Kingdom of God and life giving relationships 18
Integrity of Creation 19
Shalom - the fullness of life 20
God needs us to set people free 21
IV. In the footsteps of Daniel Comboni
and in line with our tradition 22-24
Comboni’s holistic option 22
In Comboni’s footsteps 23
Our dreams 24
V. Our commitment to building
life giving relationships 25-32
The need for conversion 25
To start within our own ranks 26
New challenges for ongoing formation 27
Re-qualification of our missionary service 28
A radical change in attitudes 29
Sensitivity to people and their rights 30
Investment and financial administration 31
Networking and cooperation 32
Cooperation in the Comboni Institutes 33
VI. Pointers for concrete action 34-39
Local Level 34
Provincial and continental level 35
Institutes’ level 36
All levels 37
Special jubilee initiative of the Comboni institutes 38
Jubilee Committee 39
VII. Conclusion 40
Appendix A: Program of Action on a Culture of Peace
of the United Nations
Appendix B: Useful Websites