The day after Christmas, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the Anglican Church, who devoted his life to ending apartheid in South Africa breathed his last. Archbishop Tutu, along with Nelson Mandela, is widely known to have led the South African white regime’s struggle to abolish the apartheid system implemented against many black people from 1948 to 1991. For this achievement, he became more famous when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Although the direct cause of his death was not revealed, the recurrence of cancer diagnosed in the late 1990s and the recent frequent access to the hospital, and the old age of 90 years old are considered the reasons.
How can I remember him and say something about him to you? Let’s follow a brief timelines in relation to the topic of this writing. The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that he is a human rights activist who has fought against “racism” throughout his life. Born in the Johannesburg slums, he worked as a school teacher and started a family, and was only ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960 when he turned 29. From 1978 to 1985, he served as secretary-general of the South African Church Council and entered the campaign against black discrimination in earnest. It became the centerpiece of promoting the brutality of the police against black people, preaching peace, and leading the democratization of South Africa and the struggle for black freedom. In 1986, he became the first African-American to become an archbishop in Cape Town.
In April 1994, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, came to power and went on to politics. From the large salaries received by Mandela’s government ministers to the corruption of former President Jacob Zuma’s government in 2018, he continued to play the role of a “moral conscience” that caused direct criticism.
Archbishop Tutu, who served as chairman of South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation Committee,” was also actively evaluated for pioneering the path of racial reconciliation with the slogan “No future without forgiveness.” Later, he also published a book titled this slogan. In this writing commemorating him, I reflect on what the basic idea was behind in this cry of “No future without forgiveness.” This is what I would like to think about and share with readers of this newsletter published by ALL Forum. Of course, it must have been the Christian faith that inspired him and gave him the power to overcome all kinds of adversity throughout his life as an Anglican priest and human rights activist, but I would like to remember the spirit of Ubuntu, a traditional South African idea he advocated with Mandela.
According to Tutu, Ubuntu has so many meanings that it is difficult to define in aword as the ideological root of his peace movement. Given a person who is “generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate” you could say that the one is true and sincere to Ubuntu. Or you could say “I am human because I belong, I participate, I share.” Among various definitions and interpretations of it, however, I prefer Tutu’s own paraphrase: “I am because we (you) are!” The strong and insightful words could definitely encourage people to care for others regardless race, sex, age and nationality. It must apply not only to peoples in Africa but those in Asia also. I have often used the sentence in my lectures for online courses on Catholic social teachings by ALL Forum for Asian young Catholics. The talks in last year was the case.
In Fratelli Tutti , Pope Francis mentions “Each of us is fully a person when we are part of a people.” (no.182) Pope Francis’ focus on brotherhood and social fraternity emphasizes the urgency of Ubuntu or ‘interconnectedness’ in reality. Yes, it is necessarily related to another his thoughts in point: “Everything is interconnected” which appears three time in Laudato Si as they are.
This idea comes to be culminated in the idea of “We (humans) are (a part of) nature” (LS, no.139). If we take it seriously we could get out of such a die-hard dualistic world views which divides into the two: humans or nature, heaven or hell (earth), men or women, good or bad, and clergy or laity…etc. Nearly all of theologians and church people too have been so heavily indoctrinated by the “subject-object” dualistic thinking that many of them read the No.139 and don’t even notice how revolutionary it is. If we do, it will lead us to setting up a whole different relationship with other humans, nature, and all things in universe. Therefore, it is important for us to “change” such world views and put it into practice in many movements led by Fath-based organizations (FBOs) especially ecological movement. Remembering Tutu and his Ubuntu, that should be one thing at least we should be willing to learn from for the better world.
The relationship of justice and peace is shown in the first sentence of the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: (Whereas) “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” The Human Rights Commission made no attempt to formulate a rational theory of human rights. They were so eager for peace in the world after so many years of horrible devastating warfare with enormous loss of human lives that they accepted that all people form one human family: Based on their only good model of human rights, the Bogota Declaration of Human Rights, they also accepted human dignity as the basis of human rights, thanks to the persuasive oratory of Dr. Charles Malek of Lebanon. Cardinal Walter Kasper later wrote that the social contract theory is inadequate to explain human dignity “in its fullness” without the help of Judeo-Christian revelation.
To understand violations against peace we have to understand violence. It is “an extreme form of aggression, such as an assault, rape, murder and it has many causes, including frustration, exposure to violent media, tending to see others actions as hostile, even when they are not.” There is an increased risk of violence by “drinking, insults and other provocations, environmental factors like heat, overcrowding.” WHO has in its definition of violence “the intentional use of force,” but the worst violence in many parts of Asia is usually spontaneous and often has something to do with religion.
Religious basis for conflict
A growing number of conflicts in Asia are based on differing religious interpretations. There conflicts are all analyzed deeply from a religious background in Just (the International Movement for a Just World), the monthly foldout magazine published by Dr. Chandra Muzzafar, a Malaysian. Many intellectual solutions are offered, which, if heeded, may reverse harmful policies of the past. “Violence against sacred spaces oftentimes engender (sic) conflicts deadlier and intractable. As a result, this kind of conflict becomes increasingly difficult to resolve.”2) Dr. Chandra makes a reasonable argument against Israeli expansionism and often opposes the “hegemonic” worldview of the USA. Such alarming words should be avoided, since they arouse opposition rather than win over an opponent.
Catholic peace organizations
Most peace organizations are founded and run by dedicated laity. The Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in May 1933, is radically pacifist, committed to the poor and to basic change in society. Pax Christi International is a non profit, non-governmental, pacifist organization working on a world-level. Large numbers of U.S. bishops
are members. It has prepared a handbook on non-violence and its techniques. It works for “peace with justice.” The International Fellowship for Reconciliation (IFOR), though not a Catholic body, is open to people of all religions and has six Nobel laureates as members. It was founded in 1919 to overcome the spirit of revenge against Germany in the harsh treaty after World War I. It has six areas of concern: Decade for a culture of non-violence, non-violence education and training, youth empowerment, interfaith cooperation, disarmament and gender justice. IFOR has a vision of the human community based on the conviction that love has the power to change unjust structures. It seeks justice as the basis for peace.
Secular Asian Organizations
The Institute of Pace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi is the leading South Asian think tank. It studies nuclear issues, disarmament, nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism, armed conflict and peace processes in the region. It also has a China Research Program. A high-level Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council was formed on September 5, 2012. The body is intended to help regional peace efforts in a fastmoving and more complex world. Long-standing conflicts between governments and Muslim majority areas in Thailand and the Philippines, quarrels over islands in the South China Sea, religious attacks in Aceh are all issues the proposed Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council could help resolve. The Asian Human Rights Centre in Hong Kong is the leading agency for justice and peace activities and for legal action in Asia. They carry out thorough case studies on major issues in many countries of Asia.
Promoting and practicing peace
There are many ways of practicing peace. They can be found abundantly on the Internet. There are 50 ideas on doing peace and 100 ideas for creating a more peaceful world. Commenting on Nick Mele, a Pax Christi USA National Council member, in his recently published Becoming Nonviolent Peacemakers. Eli S. McCarthy proposes that we think about nonviolent peacemaking in the context of virtues rather than in either of the two prevailing frameworks, just war rules or strategic choices.
McCarthy’s ideas tie nonviolent peacemaking and nonviolence in general more closely into Catholic social teaching and moral theology, something that has been entering Catholic discourse on war of late through a kind of backdoor admission that violent action is no longer a viable choice in the twenty- first century. A little more than halfway through his book, McCarthy poses two key questions about moral training and practice: “Who are we becoming?” and “Who ought we to become?” Some of the common methods of working for peace are: fasting, human chain, boycott, pen strike, slow-down, sitdown, gherao (surrounding), procession, demonstration, strike, poster, leaflet, banner, badge, signature campaign, giving news to media, pressure movement, analyze successful movements.
All theological seminaries of Asia should have courses to increase the social awareness of seminarians, their ability to recognize and analyze violations of justice and peace, especially those of a social nature. Educating the trainers of diocesan CJP groups is also essential for keeping them abreast of the ever-changing nature of the social condition. They must be imbued with the Catholic social teachings that are essential for the pursuit of peace. These may be found in the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church but are much more concisely stated in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The right to pacifism is defended: “those who renounce violence bear witness to the serious physical and moral risks involved in the use of violence. In order to defend human rights they make use of non-violent means that are available to the weakest.
It is a legitimate option for Catholics to be pacifists. Pacifism can be a way of bearing witness to love, as long as the rights and duties of other people or communities aren’t harmed.” (n 2306)
The criteria for a just war are important for all to know, and all the conditions must be met:
The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave and certain;
All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
There must be serious prospects of success;
The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver that the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. (n2309)
[Note that the declaration of war by a legitimate authority is missing from the conditions.]
World Peace Day on January 1st is an occasion for the Pope to teach the whole world about different approaches to peace. In his State of the World address to representatives of 177 countries having diplomatic relations with the Vatican Pope Benedict told them that he was “personally struck by the feeling of fear which often dwells in the hearts of our contemporaries in the face of terrorism, the threat of war, famine, disease and environmental degradation.” He urged them to say “NO TO WAR”! He stated that “war is always a defeat for humanity.” The solution of differences “will never be imposed by recourse to terrorism or armed conflict, as if military victories could be the solution.”
In the United States there have been education programs and courses since the 70s. Five areas of Justice and Peace Studies are recognized: “war, peace and arms races; social, political and economic justice; conflict regulation; the philosophy and practice of non-violence; a just world order.”3) In addition, Justice and Peace elements are incorporated in about 25 per cent of other subjects.
Besides the formal courses, many opportunities are arranged for the students to carry out community service for the benefit of the poor. For degree programs the students may spend a semester or two in developing countries in order to see up close their many problems in striving to break out of poverty. Social service may lead them to challenge the society in which they live.
On the other hand, their service may be predominantly for the rich. Fr. Henry Volken, SJ, founder and director of the Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, told us how, as seminarians, they were sent out to dig a pond or tank for the whole community of a village to use. They finished the task and went home feeling good. Only later did they learn that the tank was on a rich man’s property and by force he kept others from using it. So our social endeavors should always begin with social analysis to look below the surface for the true causes at work, often in a hidden way.
1) www.apaorg » Psychology Topics. Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology.
2) Satha-Anand, Chaivat, “Understanding the Global Threats of Violence against Sacred Spaces, Just, 2012, 12 (9): P. 11.
3) Fahey, Joseph J. “The Nature and Challenges of Justice Education” in Justice and Peace Education: Models for College and University Faculty,” 1975, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, p.3.
Globalisation, liberalisation and neoliberalism have become the most discussed and debated concepts today. These three processes are seen to have interactional impact on the entire global family. But the important facet of the evolution of these processes is that their area of influence is not just limited to economic sphere alone but seems to affect the entire societal processes. While the debate about the very process, the objective, the path pursued, and the consequences have been highlighted in various forums, globalisation and neoliberalism as a phenomenon escapes any simplistic understanding.
Understanding Globalisation and Neoliberalism
The term globalization used in 1985 by Theodore Levitt has assumed various meaning to different people. Roland Robertsor speaks of globalization as a process by which the world is becoming more and more “a single place”. At the risk of adding to the fragmentation in its connotation we can distinguish between twc different generic classes of meanings attributed to it. First, the spreac of human civilization, artifacts, institutions, patterns of living information and knowledge to span the planet earth. Second, a policy deliberately aimed at spreading certain institutions, modes of doing business, producing and trading commodities, services and information across all the states of the world.
From this type of analysis we can distinguish the following features: 1) there is a spread of international trade in goods and commodities. 2) People migrate from one country or region to another temporarily or permanently. 3) Money or means of payment are exchanged on an increasing scale between different countries and regions. 4) Capital flows from one country to another to help produce goods and services. 5) Finance without direct link with production of goods and services flows between countries. 6) Trans-National Corporations or TNCs have replaced MNCs which increasingly engage in the activities listed above. 7) Technology is traded between different countries. With the WTO frontier technologies take an increasingly proprietary form. 8) The spread of print and electronic media. 9) The growth of international trade and production of services of all kinds like shipping, insurance, banking, health care and of course finance( A.K. Bagchi: p 3219).
Before we move on to understand neoliberalism, let us try to understand liberalism. Liberalism is understood as a radical conception of capitalism that tends towards an absolutist view of the market, transforming it into the means, the method, and the end of all rational and intelligent human behaviour and in the course of time the social behaviour. Based on this conception,
people’s lives, views, the function of the society and the policy and priorities of the government are subordinated to the market. Once this market becomes absolute it is unfettered, with no financial, labour, technological, administrative or human restrictions. This also in the course of time converts some ideas of the economists of modern capitalism into a total ideology. Liberalism is essentially an economic doctrine that gives paramount importance to macroeconomic variables such as growth and inflation with no attention to income distribution, job security, food security, environmental degradation, people’s right or justice.
“Neo-liberalism” is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer (Elilzabeth Martinaz: pl). In common parlance, neoliberalism is a term describing a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that stresses the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalised trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state. At one level neoliberalism is an ideology. Literally “neoliberalism”’ means the “new liberalism’, and “liberalism” in its continental European (as opposed to North American) sense means “‘free market economics”. As such it is a resurrection of the orthodox “laissez faire” economic ideology that prevailed until the great slump of the 1930s.
This ideology contended that free market economies will run smoothly, steadily producing more wealth. Any problems that arise are supposedly a result of “unnatural monopolies” (especially in the labour market), which prevent the free movement of prices and wages pulling : supply and demand together. State intervention is seen as distorting | the economy and has to be restricted to defending private property, : national defence and, in the monetarist version of neoliberalism, overseeing the money supply (Chris Harman: p 4).
Role of the Church
Church is one of the most globalised global institution. It is a beneficiary of globalisation and at the same time has been speaking ; out against the evil effects of globalisation. John Paul II has been ; speaking and writing about globalisation. ‘It is disturbing to witness a globalization that exacerbates the conditions of the needy, that does not sufficiently contribute to resolving situations of hunger, poverty and social inequality, that fails to safeguard the natural environment. These aspects of globalization can give rise to extreme reactions, leading to excessive nationalism, religious fanaticism and even acts of terrorism.All of this is far-removed from the concept of an ethically responsible globalization capable of treating all peoples as equal partners and not as passive instruments. Accordingly, there can be little doubt of the need for guidelines that will place globalization firmly at the service of authentic human development — the development of every person and of the whole person — in full respect of the rights and dignity of all (John Paul II, May 2, 2003).
Challenges before the Church
Neoconservatism: While the rich and the powerful in powerful and rich nations are propagating and profiting through neoliberalism, the Church seems to move in the direction of neoconservatism. Rituals, rubrics and rules become dominant denying the people an opportunity to change according to the time.
Ghettoisation, parochial structure and mind set: Though ecumenism and being in the world are spoken, there is move towards ghettoization and parochial structure and mindset formation. Instead of being a believing community, we are a divided group.
Minority syndrome: In many of the South Asian countries, the church suffers by the minority syndrome. Often time, this is its own make up. Due to this it is not able to move out and work with other communities to face the challenges of neoliberalism.
Clericalism: The Catholic Church in many parts of South Asia/India suffers due to clericalism. Due to this lay leadership remains a dream. Once the clergy is out, there is vacuum and all kinds of elements at times tend to fill this vacuum.
Far removed from the reality
Non-negotiables are overlooked: it appears that at times, the Church is busy with many negotiable aspects of religion, spirituality, ecclesiology etc that it fails to engage itself with non-negotiables.
Opt for soft ministries: more and more Church personnel are opting for soft ministries like counseling, pentacostal type of preaching, ecospirituality and thus social action which engages in structural change is relegated to the background.
Possibilities before the Church
Rooted and Universal Church – GLocal response is possible: The Church is the global entity which is locally rooted and universal or global. In this capacity, it is in the best of the position to respond to globalization in favour of the vulnerable.
Emerging lay leadership: Progressively lay leadership is emerging and entering into many areas which were considered to be the domain of clergy till now. Moreover, the laity on its own merit is entering into politico-administrative stream where policies are made or unmade. They are playing a very crucial and critical role.
People still have faith in the Church: Irrespective of many drawbacks, the believing community still has lots of faith in the Church.
Greater openness, sensitivity and commitment: It is an encouraging trend that greater openness, sensitivity and commitment to Christian values, principles and communities are there. There is also openness to traditions and change.
Church has the opportunity to continue to be the Church of the poor and vulnerable: It is this which gives Church in predominantly Christian milieu and otherwise the opportunity to bear witness to the Good News of the Gospel.
Crisis can be converted into opportunity: At different sections, situations and milieus the Church is converting the crisis into opportunity and progressing towards greater integration and involvement.
Emerging People’s Theology: The emergence of people’s theologies like dalit theology, tribal theology, feminine theology, environment theology have opened up avenues for putting the pastoral cycle in practice leading to hope and liberation of those who are discriminated and marginalized.
“Rejoice and be glad” (Mt 5:12) is the Exhortation on “the call to holiness in today’s world”. Pope Francis highlighted that holiness reflects the Beatitudes, holiness is Joy, and holiness is the Foundational Vocation. The pope invites everyone to become saints in a practical context.
So how do I live my vocation to holiness in my daily life? I am very happy to join the ALL Forum Online Course on the exhortation “Rejoice and Rejoice”, although I have also read, studied, meditated, etc. on this topic, but this online course has left me In my feelings, emotions:
I am more convinced that the journey which I am on with “A Cloud of Witnesses”, encourages me to know that many people of all backgrounds respond to the call to holiness. In communion, “Surrounded and led by the friends of God, … I do not carry alone what I cannot carry alone. All the saints of God are still there to protect and support me”, and because of this my life is lighter and more peaceful.
To become a saint is not to withdraw from work or to devote myself to prayer, but to become a saint is to live in love and bear witness to God’s love. I am called to this holiness in a very personal way according to my state of life and mission, as I live the present moment to the fullest; with love, trust and commitment to the plan which God has laid out. Due to which I feel that my life has meaning, happiness, joy, peace…
Furthermore, my degree of sanctification is determined by the degree to which Christ takes possession of me so that each day I become more like Jesus in the way I think, speak, act, and live my life expressed through relationships with God, brothers and sisters and creation. Gradually it formed in me a life of balance between contemplation and activity. It was Jesus Christ who contemplated me, sending me to my fellowmen, where I discovered His hidden presence, you in turn send me back to the contemplation of Christ. This invites me to try to see God in each person, in every thing (seeing God’s image in brothers and sisters, in the poor, in the sick, in the flowers, in the grass, in the birds… small everyday things with great love)
The more I become a saint, the more I have to bear fruit in my life every day. Every day I try to fight with my selfish, passionate, sinfulness… daring to go against the current to live the call to holiness. Although I still have many weaknesses and limitations, I am always convinced of God’s love and grace for me through the intercession of the saints.
Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) organized a Four Days Live-In Seminar on Art and Spirituality in collaboration Hast-o- Neest (Institute of Traditional Studies and Art) from 9- 11 December 2021 at Theological Institute for Laity (TIL), G. T. Road Sadhoke, Distt: Gujranwala. The main theme of the seminar was “Sacred Art and Spirituality”. Total 45 participants from different places and religions attended the seminar.
The Aims and Objectives of the program of the seminar was led by Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz. He said that prejudice is far from spirituality and through these seminars we can bring people towards spirituality. Nowadays, when it comes to religions, everyone is running to kill each other. But when it comes to art and science, everyone agrees and accepts each other.
The main purpose of every art in all societies and all over the world is to bring it to reality. The purpose of art is to draw mankinds attention to reality, which leads us to follow to God. Adding on He said that according to Christian tradition, respect for other religions is a common duty of all of us and through it, we can reduce violence.
The role of religion in society is to bring God among the people with its reality. The creator of the universe from the beginning has called the environment heaven (Firdaus or Aden). God has given it to mankind as a protector. This land is turning into barrenness of unrest. We have to perform our responsibility sincerely with God. We have to strive not only for peace but also to play an important role in reforming and modernizing humanity. No religion in the world can monopolize God. No religion can discriminate against God by measuring its beliefs, principles, rules, acts of piety, and faith truths.
Doing these kinds of actions that religious exploitation of God and religious violence. Such platforms help us to become better human beings and believers. We human beings must strive for interfaith understanding, human unity, solidarity and cosmic balance and peace.
The seminar was divided in five Sessions as follows:
Dear Readers, Firstly i would like to wish you all warm regards and best compliments of the season. The past year has been a very difficult year for each one of us. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic a lot of suffering, abuse, discrimination and oppression took place. Millions of innocent people lost their lives either due to illness, natural calamity or catastrophic political/social systems.
We dedicate this month to remind ourselves of all the losses which we have bared, of all the issues and problems which we have strived through, caused or remained silent about; and mainly of all the people whom we have lost.
We also dedicate this time to reflect upon the injust military coup situation in Myanmar, Uyghur genocide in China, the Extra Judicial Killings in Philippines, the injustices against people of HongKong and Taiwan, nuclear armament and war threats in the Korean Peninsula, migrant distress, radical fundamentalism, bilological degradation due to aggressive industrialisation and all forms of oppression across the world and demand for PEACE!
We begin this New Year with great hope to strengthen and spread a strong message of Peace, inspired and motivated by the definition of ‘Ubuntu’ quoted by the very famous belated Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu “I am because We are”. And therefore ALL Forum invites you the readers to enlighten ourselves and worktogether in our own ways because we truly believe that Peace is Possible.