Archives March 2021

Webinar The Military Coup and People’s Uprising in Myanmar, and How Asian Religions can Support & Promote Solidarity Interreligiously

An Urgent Webinar:
The Military Coup and People’s Uprising in Myanmar, and How Asian Religions can Support and Promote Solidarity interreligiously?

On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar’s military staged a coup that detained several high-ranking government officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on the same day. General Min Aung Hlaing refused to recognize the election results held on the 8th of November, 2020, calling it a fraudulent election and took power hours before the new National Assembly opened and declared a state of national emergency.

Myanmar, which had been ruled by the military regime for a long time had transferred its military power to a civilian regime through elections in 2015. The country which had just begun to take a step towards democracy is now in danger of returning to a military dictatorship once again. In response, Myanmar’s people have taken to the streets again despite the horrible and harrowing memory of thousands of people massacred in the “8888 Uprising,” which was a huge resistance against the military rule on the 8th of August, 1988. More than a month into the present coup, the situation in Myanmar is getting worse, with the number of deaths and injuries increasing as the military crackdown intensifies.

In Myanmar, where the majority of the people are Buddhists, the Catholic Church, being a minority religion, lacks a strong influence; but earnestly hopes for solidarity of Catholic churches in Asia and the world for that matter.

Therefore, Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum, NCCP in Philippines, and RTRC in Thailand are jointly organizing an immediate online webinar to consider how we as followers of religions together can support and have solidarity with the Myanmar people. For this webinar we will invite two actors; one is a well-known Buddhist activist monk from Myanmar and a Diocesan Priest from Thailand situated near the Myanmar border to share vivid stories about the current situation there and discuss how peace-loving religions in Asia could unite and support.

Schedule: March 26, 2021 (Friday) 7:00-9:00 pm Philippine time
● Flow:

  1. Presentation by both the Presenters
  2. Discussion – after presentations by both the Presenters the talk is open for the online participants.
  3. Audience in online zoom and in real-time YouTube broadcasting if possible.

● Presenters:

  1. “Military coup and Buddhist response – more solidarity is needed!” -Ven. Bhikkhu Mandalar Zan / mandalarzan@gmail.com
  2. Religious response to the military coup in Myanmar-Ko Htwe/ Project Manager of Lay Mission Institute, Myanmer

● Discussion Panel:

  1. Ms. Norma Gonos / Director of Apo Governance and Indigenous Leadership Academy, Philippines
  2. Rev. Irma Mepico / Assistant Program Coordinator of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations
    (CUER) -NCCP, Philippines
  3. Prof. Francis Lee / Executive director of JusPeace, Korea
  4. Fr. Vinai Boonlue, SJ/ Head of Euro Burma Office Foundation

Jointly Organized by ALL Forum, NCCP, RTRC

Join this webinar

Fratelli Tutti’s View on the World Today and Reflection

Fratelli Tutti’s View on the World Today and Reflection

By Dr. Paul Hwang, Director of ALL Forum

Let’s briefly introduce chapters 1 and 2 of the encyclical from the perspective of ‘See-JudgeAct’, the empirical methodology that has become the traditional methodology of Catholic Social Teachings (CSTs) since Vatican II especially
the document Gaudium et Spes. As shown in the reality analysis of “The Joy of the Gospel” or Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ view on the reality of world today seems reflected from the title “Dark Clouds over a Closed World.” The Pope points out one by one how the world is closed and what the dark clouds in the closedworld mean.

First, there are movements for peace and friendship, but more extreme and aggressive nationalism, religious fanaticism, and new forms of selfishness are spreading. Globalization has brought all peoples in the world much closer, but not like the relation of brother and sisters. Cultural colonization is taking place, with individual interests prioritized and community life weakened, and as a result, only consumerism and individualism are emphasized. In many countries, economic polarization has become a tool of politics, lacking sound discussions or plans for everyone to improve people’s lives and develop common good. In a world where “throw-away culture” is prevalent, not only food and goods but also humans are often treated as such. Poor and disabled people, human foetuses, and the elderly are considered “no longer necessary.” The reality that the elderly are dying in indifference and isolation under the Covid-19 situation, and increase in racism, makes us ask back the ultimate purpose of economic growth and human development.

Today, human rights and human dignity are not respected equally in many countries. Many forms of injustice persist due to economic systems that do not hesitate to exploit, abandon, and kill humans. And women do not enjoy the same rights as men, and human trafficking or modern slavery is practiced in many parts of the world. The joint declaration of Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb in 2019, which became a basic spirit for “All Brothers” or Fratelli Tutti, clarifies this point. “In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity.” (“Human Fraternity”)

We save the whole human race by saving one person, which is also emphasized in All Brothers. “True, a worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved
together.” (no. 32)

Modern digital culture takes off, monitors, and anonymizes people’s lives. Digital media gives the illusion of communication, but it can prevent the development of real interpersonal relationships by losing contact with specific reality. However, the Pope emphasizes that “True wisdom demands an encounter with reality.” (no. 47). We can find the truth in the conversation we have together, and it requires patience. Information without wisdom prevents you from realizing the core of the problem or the meaning of life. The process of building brotherhood is only possible when
you are free to meet. This open attitude in Asian situations leads to the wisdom of acknowledging and accepting religious and cultural diversity and pluralism. Such attitude is also shown in the joint declaration: “In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as
the code of conduct” (Human Fraternity)

In Chapter 2, Pope Francis continues the aforementioned problems with the theme of “Who is my neighbour” in the “Good Samaritan” (Lk 10:25-37) among the parables of Jesus in the gospel. In Jesus’ time, the Jews ignored and hated Samaritans, saying they lived in areas where pagan rituals were practiced, considering them as filthy and repulsive beings. Jesus completely reverses the conventional idea in the parable, stressing that it was not the priest or the Levine, but the
ignored Samaritan who helped the abandoned Jews. The Samaritans went beyond cultural and historical barriers and became borderless neighbours to the wounded Jews. There are many parts in the Bible that ask people who are far from related to their neighbours or even strangers to embrace them. The Old Testament texts (Ex 22:20 and 23:9; Lev 19:33-34; Num 24:21-22) remind us of the memories of the Jews once living as strangers in Egypt. Even in the New Testament, it appears several times (1 Jn 2:10-11; 3:14; 4:20), including the phrase “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Gal 5:14).

In this context, we can better understand the importance of the Good Samaritan parable. This story asks us to rediscover our calling to build new social bonds as citizens of each country and around the world. We are created to pursue love and cannot be indifferent to pain. We will meet a suffering person anytime soon, so “Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritan or indifferent bystanders.” (no. 69) Such a Good Samaritan story is constantly being present in our daily lives. We can say that the core of faith is to participate in creating a just society that cares for the suffering. Therefore, in the final document of the Second World Bishop’s Synod, Justice in the World(1971) it is clear: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as 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.” (no.6)



Joint Statement in Support of Garo (Mandi) People of Madhupur Garh, Bangladesh who fear eviction from their land

Joint Statement in Support of Garo (Mandi) People of Madhupur Garh, Bangladesh who fear eviction from their land


We the undersigned organizations across the world condemn the act of eviction of local indigenous communities from their land by the declaration of National Park, Eco Park and reserve forest in the name of recovering forest land by the Bangladesh governments’ Forest Department. The Forest department is conspiring against the local indigenous community consisting of Garo, Koch and Barman in order to capture their inherited lands from their ancestors.

According to a report published in the different national dailies, the government has decided to recover the country’s occupied forest lands. The eviction drive is supposed to start from January 30. We have also learnt that this drive will start from Gazipur first and Tangail has been kept second in the list. Local indigenous people have been passing days in fear of eviction.

Image courtesy of IMCS
source: https://imcsap.org/joint-statement-in-support-of-garo-mandi-people-of-madhupur-garh-bangladesh-who-fear-eviction-from-their-land/

In this regard, Indigenous people of Tangail’s Madhupur Upazila staged a demonstration in the Upazila on 31st January 2021, bringing an allegation that the forest department is attempting to evict them from their own land in the name of recovering forest lands. Terming the forest department’s attempt to evict them a conspiracy, hundreds of people from Garo, Koch and Barman communities brought out a procession and formed a human chain in Madhupur bus stand area. They also submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through Madhupur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Arifa Zohura.

Article 10 of the UNDRIP says, “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.” Article 19 of the declaration says, “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” As a member country of the United Nations, Bangladesh needs to follow the UNDRIP properly.

The United Nations has recognized this customary and traditional land right and called on member states to take action. There are several UN declarations in this regard. The convention, namely ILO Indigenous and Tribal Population Convention 107 was ratified by the government of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972. Article 11 of this convention says, “The right of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of the populations concerned over the lands which these populations traditionally occupy shall be recognised.”

Article 12 (1) says, “The populations concerned shall not be removed without their free consent from their habitual territories except in accordance with national laws and regulations for reasons relating to national security, or in the interest of national economic development or of the health of the said populations.” And article 12 (2) says, “When in such cases removal of these populations is necessary as an exceptional measure, they shall be provided with lands of quality at least equal to that of the lands previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present needs and future development. In cases where chances of alternative employment exist and where the populations concerned prefer to have compensation in money or in kind, they shall be so compensated under appropriate guarantees.”

Image courtesy of IMCS

On February 15, 2016, the Forest Department of the Environment and Forest Ministry issued a gazette notification declaring 9,145 acres of land in Madhupur Garh area—home to the Garo, Barman and Koch indigenous peoples—as reserved forest under the Forest Act 1927. The government made this decision without taking the free, prior, and informed consent of the indigenous peoples of Madhupur. It provoked fear that lives of more than 20,000 forest-dependent indigenous peoples living in the area would be adversely affected. The communities have since been protesting against this decision. Local indigenous leaders alleged that the main objective of the government’s move is to grab the lands of indigenous peoples by manipulating loopholes in the Forest Act, 1927.

We call upon the Government of Bangladesh to immediately stop this Eviction process. This is a blow against human rights. As per the ILO C107 Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957, the Bangladesh government should recognize the lands traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples at Madhupur Garh.

Organizations:
1.All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF)
2.Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
3.Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY)
4.Asian Lay Leaders Forum (ALL Forum)
5.Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum
6.Bangladesh Banai Development Organization
7.Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement
8.Bangladesh Jatiya Hajong Sangathon (BJHS)
9.International Movement of Catholic Students- (IMCS-Pax Romana)
10.International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs- (ICMICA-Pax Romana)
11.International Movement of Catholic Students (Pax Romana) Asia Pacific, Manila, Philippines
12.International Movement of Catholic Students, Nepal
13.North South Initiative (NSI), Malaysia
14.Union of Catholic University Students of the Republic of Indonesia
15.University Catholic Chinese Students Association (UCCSA), Taiwan
16.Eirini Freri – European Coordination (JECI-MIEC) International Young Catholic StudentsInternational Movement of Catholic Students, Brussels, Belgium
17.Jorge Parra Herrera, Latin America Coordination, European Coordination (JECI-MIEC) International Young Catholic Students- International Movement of Catholic Students, Quito, Ecuador

Solidarity With the Students and civilian leaders of Myanmar

Solidarity With the Students and civilian leaders of Myanmar

Solidarity Statement by International Teams of IMCS Pax Romana and ICMICA Pax Romana

It is with a great sense of duty and concern that we the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and the International Movement of Catholic Students condemn in strongest terms the recent attacks on due process, justice and democracy in Myanmar.

Eleven years ago, the nation moved from military rule to democracy after ruling the country for decades. On early hours of Monday, 1st February, 2021 the military organized coup took place and the elected leaders of the people, especially the top echelon of the NLD leadership have been arrested and Aung San Suu Kyi taken to unknown locations for detention, under unsubstantiated charge of the violation of the country’s import-export laws.

It is important to alert the military that the world is watching most especially the young people of Myanmar whose future and destiny they are toying with.

We strongly advocate for a round table dialogue between the military high ranking officials, led by the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, and the Civilian Leaders, to return power to the civilian leaders and call on the Civilian Leaders to address the concerns of the military if any.

We appeal to the students, youth and women of Myanmar to maintain peace and harmony as their plight is a global concern and we won’t rest until normalcy returns to Myanmar.

We call on the international community to intervene in this constitutional violation of the rights of democratically elected leaders so that participatory democracy is returned to the people of Myanmar.

Sign:
International Teams of IMCS Pax Romana and ICMICA Pax Romana



Asian Christian perspectives on Harmony

Asian Christian perspectives on Harmony

by FABC, FOR ALL People of ASIA Vol.2

An Active Commitment to Harmony

Every Christian has a mission to help restore harmony in this world of tension and conflict. We have not only been given peace. We are called to be peacemakers. Having experienced what it means to be a new creation, what it is to enter into harmonious relationship within ourselves, with God, with our fellow human beings and with the rest of creation, we are empowered to proclaim and share the harmony we have experienced. We can fulfil this as individuals, as a Church-community and in collaboration with others.

A Call for Self-Examination

There is an urgent need for the Churches in Asia to make self-examination of their world-view, their faith-vision, their inner life, their attitudes, their relationships, their structures and programs of pastoral action. The Second Vatican Council sets us an example in this direction. The council was primarily a selfexamination by the Church of its mystery in relation to God and his world. It gave a radical description of the Church as a sacrament of intimate union with God and of the unity of the humankind; it is a sign and instrument of such union and unity (LG, no. l). The Church must first embody and realize itself this union and unity of which it is a sign. Then it must radiate this harmony in its relationship with the world.

The Need for a New Self-Understanding of the Church

Institutionalization has made the Churches in Asia insular and self-serving structures, rendering it almost impossible for them to enter into the mainstream of history, culture and the national life of the people. The Church has to go through a fresh process of understanding itself and reidentifying it self in relation to the concrete communities – ethnic, religious – whose life and struggle we share.

Focus on the Formation of Christian Community

The Christian community has to appreciate this new vision of harmony and manifest it in the way it lives its daily life. The mission of the community is in a way a communication of its own inner life of harmony. A community that is beset with continual tensions and conflicts cannot fulfil its mission of bringing harmony to the world.

Formation for a life of harmony in the Christian com munity can take different forms, depending on the circumstances. One of the most effective ways is perhaps to make the parish a communion of communities wherein the faith vision can be meaningfully lived and translated into action. In the small communities within the parish, prayerful reflection over the word of God, against the background of multireligious, multi-ethnic community we share with others, will make the members more sensitive to the problems of social injustice, discrimination, conflicts, etc. The members will thus be enabled to forge ties with other groups of other religious traditions, and collaborate with them matters of justice and peace.

A Prophet Leadership of the Community

Every disciple of Jesus and the whole Christian community has also to play a prophetic role, i.e., a liberative leadership in the spirit of the Gospel and the praxis of Jesus. Different groups, such as men, women, youth, etc., need to be formed in this kind of leadership; and it has to be an ongoing process in the parish community through prayer sessions, discussions, seminars, etc. The liturgical life of the parish can be an effective instrument to instil in the people the vision of harmony and develop in them leadership with a true ecumenical spirit.

Prophetic Leaders

We must develop prophetic leaders among both the clergy and laity who can spread this broader vision. Such training in leadership must become part of the seminary training of priests. The formation of lay leaders in this vision of harmony should take place in different levels in the Church. A systematic training with regular courses, seminars, etc., is an urgent need. The model and inspiration for Chris tian leadership is Jesus himself in praxis; it was a liberating leadership in the sense that it was contextual, prophetic, ready to face conflicts in solidarity with the oppressed.

Teams of resource persons, or task forces, need to be developed to effectively conduct the training programs, be they in the diocese or the region or the country.

Formation in the Family

The disharmony in our society often has its roots in the disharmony in the home. When there is harmony in every home, the nation will be peaceful. In a family centered on God suffused with love, the primacy of relationships over things, as well as the correct relationship with things will be fostered. The family should be the first school of a dialogic way of life. Respect for the faith of our brethren of other religious traditions, and concern for issues of social justice, need to be initiated in the family. Religious and social contacts, participation and involvement of brotherhood need to be encouraged.

Training for Conflict

Dealing effectively with conflictual situations is a social skill which must be learned. If we as Christians and promoters of harmony want to be effective in our work, we must acquire the skills needed for this delicate task. Training programs for leaders, clergy and laity, must be devised by the experts in the field and made use of by all who wish to engage in the task.

A Discourse on Laity and Participatory Church

A Discourse on Laity and Participatory Church

by Hamid Henry

The Church Teachings on the Laity

Paul Lakeland in his The lay theologian in the Church observes that since the end of the Vatican Council there have been many changes in the church, whether in the spirit of the Council or in reaction to it. He adds: ‘since Vatican II , the laity have been understood to be as integral to the Church as the clergy. Anticipated in Pius XII’s remark that ‘the lay faithful… ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church but of being the Church, Lumen Gentium went to considerable lengths to rehabilitate the laity as full members of the Church, sharing a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ. (LG 32)

The active role of the laity in the mission of the Church is the subject of the Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem. The genuine apostolate they exercise is one of bringing the gospel and holiness to men… penetrating and perfecting the temporal sphere of things through the spirit of the gospel (AA2). In this apostolate the Holy Spirit distributes charismata to the laity, from which arise for each believer the right and duty to use them in the Church and in the world for the good of mankind and for the up building of the Church’ (AA 3). To focus our overriding concern in the language of Vatican, we might ask whether theological learning is an appropriate charisma of the lay apostolate. Indeed, the question of whether theology is an ecclesial charisma or an official function in the church is itself highly germane. The identification of the lay apostolate with ‘witness in the world’ has usually gone along with a commitment to what Gustavo Gutierrez calls the ‘separation of planes ‘, that is, he relegation of the laity to teaching by example what they have learned from the clergy. Too frequently this simply mirrors and disguises clericalism.

There are, for example, one or two passages in recent documents where it seems that the Church might recognize a lay role even in theology. Discussing the lay apostolate, Lumen Gentium adds that ‘the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the hierarchy’, and even that lay people ‘have the capacity to be deputed by the hierarchy to exercise certain church functions for spiritual purpose’ (LG 33).

Apostolicam Actuositatem sees the laity in the parish ‘bringing to the Church community their own and the world’s problems as well as questions concerning human salvation, all of which should be examined and resolved by common deliberation’ (AA 10). It is difficult to imagine this being done effectively without some theological reflection, it should be reassuring that the bishops go on in the same document to call for theological training where appropriate. Those laypeople whose apostolate ‘is one of making the gospel known and men holy’ must ‘learn doctrine more carefully’ (AA 30). And to that end there should be more ‘centers of documentation and study… for the better development of natural capacities of laymen and laywomen’.

The Participatory Church

What exactly is meant when a term such as ‘participatory church’ is used? We need to be clear that organizationally speaking, this is in fact, something new. It is much more than simply doing what we are already doing now; but doing it more effectively. New hockey sticks will not make for a better football team! Moreover, it is not just one more new project like a school or a dispensary, where one searches for the funding, completes the job and then carries on as before. Building participatory church is a process: it is the very process of creating participative structures that brings about a participatory church. Because of deeply embedded non participatory habits, fostered by both cultural and ecclesial practice, it is not something that will come about quickly or easily.

Inevitably, it is a project that will meet with resistance and rationalization. This will be especially the case among those who mistakenly fear that they have much to lose by facilitating more participative structures. There will be a tendency to borrow the terminology but not change the reality. Some may well wish to make of it a participatory church in the sense of many of the lay faithful busily involved in carrying out what the priest tells them to do. For others, what seems to be on offer is a kind of participatory church ‘by decree.’ A meeting decides it is a desirable goal and this goal is decreed and a participative church is then deemed to have come into existence, though in reality, nothing has changed. Yet again, for others it means developing the life of the church even more around festivals, prayer conventions, visits of holy shrines, as if a participatory church were to be equated with fanfare. Sometimes it seems as if it is a kind of subterfuge: we repaint the shop front, re work the advertising, invest a new logo but continue to trade in exactly the same product and with the same management structure.

By contrast, a truly participatory church is a spelling out of the theological truth-reemphasized in Lumen Gentium, that the mystical reality of church is made visibly firstly in the People of God. It seems to tease out the full implications of the vocation to communion, drawing deeply on the Pauline theology of the variety of the gifts and the unity of the body.
To this way of thinking, Christ calls each of the baptized to be a friend and not just a servant and, as a friend, brings them into his confidence and shares his project and the means of its accomplishment. It is a theology that sees the full active and conscious participation in the sacred liturgy called for in Sacrosanctum Concilium, as something pertaining not only to the laity’s participation in the priestly office of Christ, but also in his office of prophet and king and thus calling for free, active and conscious participation in the process of evangelizing cultures, and the decision-making processes at the service of this evangelization. In short, its point of departure is the re-discovery of the baptismal vocation as the foundation for active and responsible participation in the life and organization of the church.

Conclusion

The different ministries which are being practiced in the Church must be community centered. They must be used for the betterment of the people without discrimination. Through them, the Church should move along with the people especially with the poor. Through them she is called to live in communion as human family in order to help strengthen and support each other. Unless the Church inserts herself in the day to day existing realities, it cannot claim to be a “participatory church.” Therefore in order to be the true Church of the poor, she must stand with the poor, downtrodden, oppressed and homeless. She has to play a prophetic role in the Asian context.

Situation amidst the Military Coup in Myanmar

Situation amidst the Military Coup in Myanmar

by Robert Mang, Lay Mission Institute, Myanmar

Greeting from Myanmar, I wish that everyone is in good health. You may know what is going on and taking place in our country. It is very hard to accept and live under the control of military coup.

The military has retained our leaders, Aung San Suu Kyi (State Counsellor), U Win Myint (President) and others who are working in special department since 1st February 2021. They did not recognize and accept the results of the election held in 8th November 2020. Due to that event, they have taken the power from our elected government and arrested all who are in government. As soon as they have taken such power, the internet was shut down, the people are filled with anxieties and all happiness are gone. We, people of Myanmar, did not accept the military coup at all. That is why, we are on strike in order to get Democracy back as soon as possible from the military. Another crooked move that the military performed on 12 February is that they released many criminal prisoners and asked them to rob, burn houses and make all sorts of threats and riot across Myanmar.

attribution: VOA Burmese, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2021_Myanmar_Protest_in_Hleden.jpg

In response to this, concerned about our safety and security and losing a sense of purpose for our future because of the military coup, every night at 8 p.m., we drum all sorts of instruments as a means of self-protection and alarming of the thieves, casting out of the evil spirit of those unjustly national power takers. Moreover, every night, we form ourselves watchmen for our own wards to protect our homes and our people from thieves, policemen and military because they go around at night and arrest leaders of demonstration and those involved in CDM (civil disobedience movement). The current situation is very serious and getting dangerous day by day. The People of Myanmar are in danger of death during the demonstrations because the police are using deadly weapons there. Up until now, many demonstrators have been arrested, around 16 demonstrators killed, some are already homeless due to the burning their houses from the military and many more are wounded and undergoing serious medical care.

In conclusion, we are helpless, insecure and no future anywhere. Let your voices be heard to others who haven’t known yet and support us with your powerful prayer.

Reflection on the Online courses

Reflection on the Online courses

By Nomi Munir, Theological Institute of Laity, Pakistan

congratulate ALL forum for this online course. This is a good way to bring Asian Lay leaders together and to train them for leadership. This online course provides an opportunity for the lay to reflect and share their views at the Asian level. The topics “Documents on Vatican II”, “Basic Understanding of Church Teachings”, “Basic Theology on the Lay People in the World” has been introduced in a very convincing way to bring the lay leaders to reflect and think about the role of laity in church and society.

Mainly this course has led us to discover what the scripture says, what it means, how it applies to our lives, and how to respond appropriately to its message. This is also helpful in the formation and expression of godly character, qualities and essential Christian attitudes in keeping with scriptural emphasis. This course has also provided and directed us in the development of a Christian lifestyle in obedience to the will of God and the pattern of Christ and has also encouraged us to live it with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Theology is one of the fundamental ways through which the laity of the church can understand, think carefully and live out what they believe. Theology speaks more about Him, His glorious, powerful, and great works such as creation, providence, redemption etc. The church is God-centered, first it invites us to come towards God and then go to people for proclamation of His glory. Theology does not exist as a knowledge but motivates us to serve and practice the teachings in our daily life.

No doubt theology is the attempt to know God more deeply. But it leads us deeper in worship, personal transformation, and more effectively in church ministry. It is also more practical because we learn about God, we know Him and we come closer to Him, we get to share and practice God’s love with others as well as empty ourselves and accept others. It teaches us to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, different church ministries and invites the lay leaders from different places to understand the laity and church in different perspectives.

In addition, developing relationship with other people is the foundation for change. Connections and accepting people with different ethnicity is key in building communities that are powerful to spread and practice the teachings of different beliefs.

From Dark Clouds to an Open World

From Dark Clouds to an Open World

By Neilan D’souza

The world we live in has become an unjust world. The sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems outdated. Civilization almost everywhere is suffering from political distress, armed conflicts, discrimination, homelessness and environmental catastrophes. Corporations and Governments everywhere are favouring economic power and growth over well-being of the people by exploiting natural resources, oppressing indigenous communities and others of their rights, and leaving behind a trail of destruction which leave communities no choice but to suffer.

Even though we have numerous global institutions fostering Peace, Justice and Solidarity; in today’s world, it has become immensely difficult to enforce good practices and sustain peace in this world.

As outlined by Pope Francis, we are living under Dark clouds in a closed world which needs healing. This healing will not be possible if we continue to live in a self-centred and selfish manner. Each day offers us a new opportunity and a new possibility to take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies. We have the space we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting into place new processes of change. We need to utilize these spaces and build inclusive societies which look beyond ethnical, cultural, racial, religious and communal differences so that we can foster a just and peaceful world.

In this third issue of our E-Newsletter we invite our readers to reflect on the various atrocities taking place in the world around us and join us in solidarity to uphold and promote peace and justice in our daily lives