The wind of Pentecost moves our struggles !!!
The Seventh 'World Social Forum' was held in Nairobi from 20th to 25th January 2007. The first such Forum was staged in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2001 and continued to be held in the same city for the next two years until the venue for the Fourth 'World Social Forum' was changed to Mumbai (India) in 2004. The 'World Social Forum' was started to provide an open platform for social movements, networks, Organizations and groups to meet, to know one another and to discuss issues of common interest and importance.
The 'World Social Forum' is held at the same time of the year as the 'World Economic Forum' which meets in Davos (Switzerland), and where the very rich and powerful of our world meet to work out their strategies to promote growth and maximize profit at almost any cost. The former was started as a radical critique of the contemporary world economic order which thrives on exploitation and social injustice, all the while enriching the very few at the expense of the masses of poor and disadvantaged in our world.
This year, the first time that the Forum was staged on African soil, has seen the issue of the teeming millions of slum-dwellers (two and a half million in Nairobi alone!) around the towns and cities of the South of our world move very much to fore of the Forum's concerns. All in sharp contrast, it must be said, to the vitality, vibrancy and colour of the most marginalized of Continents. The major themes treated at the Forum were the debt burden of many developing countries; access to water for all; the environment; land rights for pastoralists and minority groups; EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements) between the European Union and many nations of the developing world; HIV/Aids; housing; human rights; gender issues; wars and conflicts like Iraq, Darfur and Somalia.
The 'Comboni Family', borne of the passion of Daniel Comboni for Black Africa, could not miss such a golden opportunity: some fifty Comboni Sisters, Brothers, Fathers and Lay Missionaries from all over the world accepted the invitation to meet in Nairobi from 19th to 27th January 2007 to participate in the 'World Social Forum', and thereafter to a couple of days reflecting upon matters of common interest and concern with the help of a Brazilian theologian, Father Marcelo Barros and an Irish theologian of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Sister Patricia Lonegan. It was an important moment of fraternity and sharing where we experienced the presence of the Spirit, that not only focussed our attention on many of the world's problems but also on the hopes, dreams, and vision of the poor and marginalized in our midst. We had a profound feeling that as Members of the Comboni Family we should be more and more rooted in the struggles and sufferings of the People of God with a spirituality that will help us to resist a world economic order that dehumanizes our people and our very selves.
In the light of this encounter, the process of theological reflection over the last days, the experience of our daily lives and our prayer together, we believe God’s Spirit is continuing to call the 'Comboni Family' in the following ways:
1. - Collaboration within the Comboni Family.
We recognize that co-operation strengthens our respective ministries and is an invaluable support in journeying together towards the Kingdom. We therefore feel the need:
- to foster co-operation through common reflection and meetings;
- to include in the 'Comboni Family' all who were born from the charism of Comboni:
Religious and Lay Institutes; former Members of such Institutes; groups; and NGOs;
- to allow ourselves and our lifestyle to be challenged and converted by the poor;
- to be more hospitable and welcoming as befits our missionary spirit;
- to promote leadership that is more open to prophetic vision and approaches from the grassroots;
- to make use of already existing channels to continue theological reflection and the exchanging
of our experiences;
- to encourage further theological reflection on our charism and Mission in the Arabic-Islamic
world, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. In this regard we would recommend that the
existing 'Continental Groups of Theological Reflection' be organized with the active
involvement of all the Members of the 'Comboni Family';
- to hold a similar Meeting on the occasion of the forthcoming 'World Social Forum' in 2009.
2. - Networking between Organizations, NGO’s and groups representing Civil Society.
Networking is necessary because:
- it is a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God and is part of our charismatic inheritance
- in today’s globalized world we cannot work on our own, but rather need to join forces to
influence the decisions of the vested interests in the present world order (politicians,
Therefore we wish to commit ourselves anew to:
- network internationally with Organizations, NGOs and groups representing Civic Society
dedicated to the betterment of the human situation and the protection of creation (Vivat,
- network nationally and/or locally with Churches and with those religious and civil
organisations which share some of our basic principles and values, and who are involved in
similar areas of work to our own. As a response to the pressing needs of the moment, we wish
to become more involved in the international campaigns against EPAs (Africa) and ALCAs
3. - Empowerment of People.
Letting go is very painful. Following the example of John the Baptist and Daniel Comboni, we want to strive to enable the people we are privileged to serve to become the true authors of their own destiny. We can only do this by believing and trusting in their gifts, talents and abilities.
In the past we were often called to be a 'voice for the voiceless’. Today we recognise that the 'voiceless' often have a 'voice' and can speak for themselves. Our task is to accompany them in such a journey of empowerment, to listen attentively to them and enable them to have their voices heard. In this light, we should intensify our efforts in the formation of local leaders, willingly leave positions of leadership and foster the concept of self-reliance. This does not, of course, take away from our work of advocacy and our duty to speak out on behalf of those yet unable to speak up for themselves.
4. - The Priority of the Poor and Disadvantaged.
We ask the 'Comboni Family' to make our 'option for the poor' more meaningful by inserting our Communities among the poor and under-priviledged, with life-styles marked by simplicity and sobriety. This is the way to personal and communitarian conversion: for if we abandon the poor,
it means that we have abandoned God and betrayed our Mission.
We therefore need to:
- live and pray with the poor;
- convert ourselves to a more sober and simpler life-style;
- keep our houses open to receive the poor and one another;
- ask for the gift of solidarity among ourselves and with the poor and oppressed;
- recognise the dignity of the poor: they are the subject of Evangelization;
- recognise the gifts and talents that God has given to the poor for the good of the community;
- share their dreams, inspirations, struggles, insecurities, hopes and joys;
- be attentive to the marginalized, both ad intra and ad extra.
Since we are privileged people (having the benefit of a good education, ample resources at our disposal, the opportunity to undertake further studies, the ability to travel, ...) our 'option of the poor' obliges us to return to the poor from what we have abundantly received.
5. - Justice and Peace/Integrity of Creation.
The gospel passage from St. Luke (4:16-21) makes clear that Justice and Peace/Integrity of Creation is an integral part of our Mission and of the work of Evangelization.
We commit ourselves to greater endeavour in the field of JP/IC by:
- recognizing that our commitment to this work is primarily evidenced by our relationships with
other Members of the Comboni Family, with our workers and with our collaborators;
- co-operating more closely with Local Churches and Organisations on such issues;
- conscientizing Local Communities with regard to such concerns, and encouraging them to
become actively involved as protagonists in their own right;
- calling upon each Province to establish a commission or similar body to encourage reflection
among the Members of our Institutes on such issues;
- promoting theological reflection on JP/IC issues on a continent-wide basis.
6. - Promoters of Dialogue, Builders of Bridges.
We believe that God’s Spirit is calling the Comboni Family to promote dialogue and build 'bridges' among the peoples, cultures and religions where we are present by:
- developing a spirituality of dialogue and reconciliation following the footsteps of Jesus, the
crucified Lord, who stretched out his arms to embrace all;
- readily supporting the poorest and most abandoned;
- encouraging the encounter of diversities;
- deconstructing our often deformed perceptions and prejudices of others, healing our memories
and those of the people whom we are priviledged to serve.
To further such work, we wish to adopt the following methodologies and strategies:
- to be open to ecumenical, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue through personal relationships
and through our respective ministries;
- to foster an attitude of dialogue and reconciliation through formation and education, starting
from our very selves;
- to treasure the traditional ways of reconciliation among the peoples with whom we work.
These are the fruits of these days of being together as Members of the Comboni Family after the 'World Social Forum'. We are conscious that we are not saying new things contained already in our previous documents and tradition but we offer them to you in the hope that you too will find new encouragement and strength as we had during these days of fraternity and sorority. As the disciples of Emmaus, we have perceived the Spirit of Jesus among us and in the struggles of the many people of good will who believe that “ANOTHER WORLD IS INDEED POSSIBLE” !!!
List fo participants
Comboni Missionaries Fathers & Brothers
Province of Tchad
Fr. Daniele Frigerio
Fr. Paolino Tipo Deng Amayldh
Province of Congo
Fr. Giampaolo Pezzi Trebeschi
Province of Ecuador
Br. Roberto Misas Ríos
Delegation of Egypt
Fr. Simon Mwaura Mbuthia
Delegation of Eritrea
Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tessama
Province of Ethiopia
Fr. Pedro Pablo Leobardo Hernandez Jaime
Province of Italy
Fr. Dario Bossi
Fr. Alberto Pelucchi
Fr. Alessandro Zanotelli
Fr. Franco Moretti
Province of Kenya
Fr. Luigi Cocchi
Fr. Paolo Latorre
Fr. Daniele Moschetti
Br. Alberto Parise
Fr. Francesco Pierli
Fr. Mariano Tibaldo
Fr. John Webootsa
Province of Khartoum
Fr. Abraham Hailu Weldu
Province of Malawi/Zambia
Fr. Tiziano Laurenti
Province of South Africa
Fr. Jerome Anakese
Province of South Sudan
Fr. Antoine Komivi Kondo
Fr. Celestino Invaha Seabra
Fr. Markus Lorenz Koerber
Province of Uganda
Fr. Martin James Devenish
Fr. José Carlos Rodriguez Soto
Province of Germany
Sc. Gregory Schmidt
Comboni Missionaries Sisters
Province of Ecuador/Colombia/Perù
Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi
Province of Egypt
Sr. Anna Maria Sgaramella
Province of Eritrea
Sr. Tseghereda Yohannes
Province of Southern Sudan
Sr. Elena Balatti
Sr. Anna Maria Gastaldello
Sr. Paola Moggi
Secretariat Mission ad Gentes
Sr. Maria Cassarino
Coordinator HIV/aids prg Rome
Sr. Maria Amabile Martinelli
Sr. Maria Soledad Saenz Rico
Province of Kenya
Sr. Orietta Pozzi
Sr. Maria Del Carmen Ballesteros Manzano
Sr. Teresita Cortes Aguirre
Sr. Fernanda Cristinelli
Sr. Rosemary Nassali
Sr. Encarnacion Perez Garcia
Sr. Carla Rova
Province of Veneto
Sr. Maria Teresa Ratti
Province of Middle East
Sr. Maria del Rosario Fernandez Ramiro
Province of Veneto/Lombardo Centro Meridione
Sr. Italia Rina Serato
Province of Northern Sudan
Sr. Maria Angelica Guadalupe Castillo Sanchez
Sr. Ann Lucy Wanjiku Njoroge
Sr. Loredana Dalla Libera
Province of Uganda
Sr. Fernanda Pellizzer
Province of U.S.A.
Sr. Giovanna Rita Sguazza
Province of Zambia
Sr. Eulalia Capdevila Enriquez
Sr. Maria Rita Oliva
Lay Comboni Missionaries
Luca Clochiatti (Italy)
Susan Marie Coopersmith (USA)
Monica Gaspari (Italy)
Ariane Kunze (Germany)
Fr. Marcelo Barros Benedictine (Brasil)
Sr. Patricia Lanigan Medical Missionaries of Mary (Ireland)