Conver18

  • Let me begin with Matthew 14:13-21, the story that teaches us about feeding 5,000 people. The story comes immediately after Matthew provides the reader with the news that John the Baptist’s head had been placed on a platter and displayed at a fancy birthday party at King Herod’s palace. Essentially, the government killed the baptizer because he had become an inconvenience. John, let us remember, was the one who had greeted Jesus while both were still in the womb (Lk 1:39-55) and who had prepared Jesus’ way by baptizing him into his prophetic vocation (Mt 3:13-17).

  •    The role of Father Gustavo Gutiérrez was key: he made us see that liberation did not come only from political parties, but that what the poor needed and the world needed was a prophetic voice; that it would remind us that fidelity to God cannot be done by forgetting the poor. That helped us a lot in our pastoral work. These were the words of the priest and companion on the way, Jorge Álvarez Calderón, during the Eucharistic celebration held on June 7 in the Basilica of the Rosary and Convent of Santo Domingo, in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the life of the Peruvian Dominican, internationally recognized for his theological work.

    Father Gutierrez has dedicated his whole life to finding an answer to a great question: how to tell the poor that God loves him, when the reality of his life seems to be the denial of all forms of love? 

  • The MEIC, Italian member of Icmica Pax Romana, meeting in the monastery of Camaldoli in Tuscany for its annual session, asked itself, by listening and dialogue, how to imagine and implement forms of participation in society and within the Christian community.

    Democracy

       

                    We look with great concern at this historic moment, which is characterised by a crisis of democratic forms of participation and governance and, more deeply, of the very principles of democracy. The idea prevails that governing means opposing interests, thus exasperating rather than healing the social divisions: between Italians and foreigners, between north and south, between poor and rich, between young and old, between those who have guarantees and those who have not, between national needs and European responsibilities...

    We are aware, as men and women who care about civil and democratic life, that we have responsibilities in not having always grasped the extent of this process of degradation of democracy. As Christians and citizens we therefore consider it urgent:
    - to rediscover those values and that civil passion that inspired the moment of the country's democratic construction when it was possible to combine a political vision of the common good with skills;
    - to actively participate again in the social and political debate, convinced that, in the confrontation between different instances and in the search for adequate mediation, a cohesive civil community is built which is open to the future;
    - to commit ourselves to building itineraries of political culture, relaunching the European project on a popular and institutional level for an inclusive coexistence, based on solidarity, in the context of a social market economy;
    - collaborate with other associations and lauch study initiatives to meet the global challenges of our time, such as the divorce between truth and communication and the separation between finance and the real economy, seeking possible solutions and promoting good practices at the local level (as also suggested by Pope Francis in Laudato Si');
    - promote the introduction of new forms of participation in the system of representative democracy in order to inform, discuss and deliberate on key issues.

    Synodality

    Synodality is a constitutive dimension of the Church, a dimension yet to be realized in the ordinary experience of our communities. As Christians we therefore consider it urgent:
    - to create networks of relationships, contributing to the development of a model of the Synodal Church that recognizes and values the charisms of each individual;
    - to initiate a reflection on the role of the laity in the decision-making processes of the Church, starting from the parish level, valuing the skills of each person in a style of co-responsibility with equal dignity;
    - to contribute to fraternal dialogue among the Christian Churches, promoting an exchange of good practices and experimenting with forms of synodality;
    - to have formative paths to common synodality for lay people and priests;
    - to promote community discernment on ecclesial and civil matters, and to exercise co-responsibility in the decision, execution and verification of the choices made.

    Translated from Italian by Philippe Ledouble

  •    I was born and grew up in Cameroun, a country of 22 million inhabitants, located in West Africa, which became “independent” (if at all this word means anything in Africa) in 1960 after a colonial history involving the Germans, the English and the French. Since 1960, Cameroon has had only two heads of state: the first ruled from 1967 until his sudden resignation in 1982. The second, his then prime minister, took over in 1982 and is still in power at 85 years old and there are indications that he wants to seek another term. During these 58 years of political independence, there have been many elections but only God knows whether any of these has ever been democratic. In other words, in my 48 years of existence, I have known only two heads of state. The sad truth is that after many years of poor governance, Cameroon in now confronted with a quasi-civil war, which is basically a crisis of social justice. It is from this context, which of course, is not representative of the whole African continent, that I am speaking about political crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Some people broke my office window in the middle of the night and came in to search for evidences against them, they give me death threat” said a Jesuit priest from Gujarat who is a human rights activist. I was in his office to learn about his works and it was the time of national 2014 elections. During this time, when many citizens were buying the pro-development agenda of a promising political party; there were some who were constantly ensuring the safeguard of democracy. This tug of war among the citizens got the nation a ruling government which is no less than a nightmare.

  • Asian democracy is invariably uneven, ranging from the regressive democracy of Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam to the more authoritarian in China, South Korea, and finally the more robust democracy of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Democracy is a phase in the political theory of Barbara Geddes who explains how the different kind of totalitarian regimes, from military, single-party, personalist, or amalgams of pure types, morph into different post less-totalitarian and more democratized regimes. In other words, democratization leads to the downfall of dictatorship which is facilitated by poor short-term economic performance. On the other hand, greater economic development leads the citizens to demand for greater democratic governance.