Archives April 2022

Multilateralism Diplomacy For Peace in the World

By Niru Maya Tamng

The process of bringing together more than two nations or parties in obtaining diplomatic solutions to transnational problems is known as multilateral diplomacy. Following the destruction of World War II, the United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 with a single mission: to maintain worldwide peace and security. However, conflict prevention remains a little-known part of the UN’s mission. Meanwhile, the most efficient and desirable use of diplomacy is to reduce tensions before they become a source of conflict, or, if conflict does occur, to move quickly to limit it and resolve its root causes. By resolving United Nations resolution A/RES/73/127 on December 12, 2018, the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established and marked on April 24, 2019, as “a means to promote the values of the United Nations and to reaffirm the faith of our peoples in the purposes and principles enshrined in its Charter, to reaffirm the importance and relevance of multilateralism and international law and to advance the common goal of lasting and sustained peace through diplomacy” (United Nation, 2022).

The UN set aside the day to underscore the importance of the UN Charter in resolving conflicts peacefully. On this day, the United Nations reaffirmed its Charter and ideals by revising the norms and practices that nations adopt to address the ever-increasing issues of isolation and safety (Hadjikoumis, 2021). On an international day like this, the most important message is that we must honor our commitments. But in the past few months, we have witnessed how humanity is vanishing due to the war and conflict between various nations such as the Taliban’s invasion of Afghanistan and Russia over Ukraine. This current geopolitical crisis comes on top of other major global crises like climate change and the ongoing COVID pandemic, as well as a slew of other threats such as biodiversity loss, financial instability, water, energy, and food insecurity, digital disruption and manipulation, and much more. In such situations, the UN has not supported the victim parties with military aid but instead helped the effect civilians and refugees to evacuate and place them in different developed counties by providing aid and benefits to them. However, though the UN may provide them with a safe and comfy place to stay, the civilians have lost their home country forever, which is more miserable.

Multilateralism DiplomacyIn conclusion, we may have seen the UN is silent in case of war between different nations but in reality, it does not want to make more losses by involving in the dispute between two nations with military force instead it has tried to prevent it in many ways. If the war occurs, then it has helped the refugees and civilians to have a better and safe place to live. Therefore this day “International day of multilateralism democracy for Peace” has many scopes and plays an important role in making the world a place with less dispute and conflicts.

Cardinal Kim and Religious Pluralism in Asia

By Dr. Paul Hwang

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council, and it is also the year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan, who has passed away some 10 years ago and most passionately introduced and spread the results and documents of the council to the Korean church. In honor of the deceased, for the readers of this month news letter of ALL Forum, I would like to briefly talk about the spirit of poverty and religious and cultural pluralism that Cardinal Kim usually emphasized.

Not much is known about the relationship between Cardinal Kim and FABC. However, according to the testimony of Thomas Fox, founder of the Catholic weekly in the US, and Catalino Arevalo SJ, dubbed the “Father of Filipino theology,” one of the actual founders is Cardinal Kim. In particular, Cardinal Kim’s the ‘spirit of being poor’ seems to have gained great resonance and sympathy when Asian bishops first met in Manila in 1970, and also inspired the famous Triple Dialogue of FABC, especially dialogue with the poor which is its founding spirit. Pope John 23, who convened the council, advocated the “Church of the Poor” ahead of CELAM or liberation theology, which must have influenced cardinal Kim’s view of the church as well as the council.

Therefore, the link between the council and Cardinal Kim can be said to be this spirit of poverty, and it can be said that it was deeply engraved in the spirit of FABC through Father Arevalo. Therefore, it is presumed that Cardinal Kim was the one who inspired Father Arevalo, who formalized the three-dimensional dialogue with poor people, various religious traditions, and rich cultural diversity at the 1st General Assembly of FABC in Taipei in 1974.

This reasoning includes that not only cardinal Kim’s spirit of poverty but also religious and cultural pluralism stemming from the multi-religious situation in Korea influenced the spirit of triple dialogue. In this way, it can be said that Cardinal Kim had a great influence on the basic theological principle and pastoral direction of FABC as well as the structure and formality of the establishment of it.

While inheriting the spirit of dialogue in the council, the Asian face of God’s salvific economy is revealed by placing it in the context of religious and cultural pluralism in the triple dialogue. It is said that there is an inseparable relationship between the great religious traditions of Asia and the lives of the people, that is, religious and cultural pluralism, and the lives of the poor as subjects. Through this relationship, Asian Christianity forms ‘wholeness’ as holiness. In other words, salvation in Asia is not limited to the walls of churches, but is realized within these relationships with other religions and cultures.

In this regard, of course, Vatican II has something to say. This is because the Gaudiem et Spes or Joy and Hope, one of the most important documents of the pastoral council, clearly shows the advocacy of religious and cultural pluralism by saying, “We foster within the church herself mutual esteem, reverence and harmony, through the full recognition of lawful diversity” (para. 92). If the council accepts diversity and pluralism in such a basic form, the FABC differs in that it comprehensively turns it into the context of “true value” and “something that should be honored and promoted.”

Cardinal Kim’s inclusive and open view of other religions also seems to have had a great influence on the triple dialogue. He said, “The Council emphasizes the study of discovering appropriate spiritual values not only in Confucianism and Buddhism but also in shamanism.”

The Cardinal did not only mention shamanism, but ask to embrace it by putting it side by side with the great religious traditions calling for active inclusion. He also said that the church should try to open its heart to other religions. In another place, he once again talked about it by saying, “Korean Catholicism is still deeply immersed in the way of conversation in life with other religious traditions and philosophy such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, shamanism, etc.”

The fact that this proposal came out in the 1970s and 1980s shows how open Cardinal Kim is to the reality of life of religious and cultural pluralism in Korea and Asia. This is all the more so “religious pluralism” in the churches in the world including Asian’s, almost 50 years after he mentioned it as such, is being treated like something to be avoided or suspected of.

IMCSAP webinar on ‘Empowering Women in the Church and Society

On the 31st of march 2022 International Movement of Catholic Students hosted a Webinar with the theme ‘Empowering Women in the Church and Society’. The resource person for the webinar Professor Dr. Ana Maria Bidegain, from the International President, International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA-Pax Romana) shared her insight on three key aspects.

  • Equality between man and woman – a central dimension of Christianity: Biblical perspective and the teaching of the church.
  • What empowerment is and how the forms of power in the society and church work
  • The experience of IMCS building a Synodal Church has allowed for women’s empowerment.

She further explained on how the ‘Rise Of Women’ in church and society is a ‘Sign Of The Time’ and also expressed how the movements have given birth to a ‘New Theology’ entailing a pedagogical and theological maturity which is the basis of Liberation theology and also of Catholic Feminist Theology.

The webinar was joined by around 35 catholic Youth from Asia. This Webinar also marks the launch of IMCS AP’s Comission on Women Empowerment And Gender Equity.

Interreligious Dialogue – An Essential Element of Evagelization

By James H Kroeger MM

One of the truly remarkable waves of mission renewal in the wake of Vatican II has been the Church’s commitment to elucidating the vision and encouraging the practice of interfaith dialogue. It was only in 1964 in his first encyclical Ecclesiam Suam that Pope Paul VI introduced dialogue as a framework for envisioning the mission of the Church in the contemporary world. The Council document Nostra Aetate (1965) provides a foundational vision for this dimension of evangelization. Pope John Paul II was an indefatigable apostle of dialogue in his writings and world-wide pastoral visits, always taking an opportunity to meet the followers of various religions. He summoned the leaders of the world religions to assemble in Assisi in 1986, 1999, and 2002; Benedict XVI invited a return to Assisi in 2011, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Assisi gathering.

The mission encyclical of John Paul II has a lengthy section devoted to interfaith dialogue (RM 55-57). His conviction was clear: “Interreligious dialogue is a part of the Church’s evangelizing mission” (RM 55). Asia’s bishops are also deeply committed to dialogical evangelization: they have stated: “Mission may find its greatest urgency in Asia; it also finds in our continent a distinctive mode — dialogue” (FABC V: 4.1). Being a truly local Church in Asia “means concretely [being] a Church in continuous, humble and loving dialogue with the living traditions, the cultures, the religions [of Asia] (FABC I: 12). The Church has made significant progress in this area since Vatican II; however, as the world witnesses—almost daily—the need for authentic, substantial interfaith dialogue remains an urgent imperative. Effective and successful dialogue efforts are graces to be sought in prayer.

FOUNDATIONAL MISSION THEOLOGY

Essential to an adequate appreciation of the waves of renewal in mission in the Vatican II era is a deepened comprehension of missiological foundations. Underlying the renewed approaches and concrete initiatives of mission one finds profound theological reflection. Particularly significant areas have been: Christology, Kingdom Theology, Pneumatology (cf. RM 430) as well as catholicity, the paschal mystery, and the triunity of God. Although not always grasped or appreciated by most Catholics, mission theologians have made a significant contribution to Church renewal. One brief example may suffice to illustrate how a renewed missiology has fostered the missionary growth and dynamism of the entire Church.

Pneumatology, the theology of the Holy Spirit, has prospered since the Council. In Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI emphasized that “the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization’’ and that “evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit” (EN 75). Pope John Paul II elaborated upon the vision of Paul VI; one entire chapter of Redemptoris Missio (21-30) is devoted to the Spirit’s role in mission. As noted earlier, John Paul II’s mission vision has been significantly influenced by Vatican II; Catholics “ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known to God offers everyone the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery” (GS 22; cf. RM 6, 10, 28). The theological foundations of mission contain great potential for the transformation of all Christians and their local Churches.

Indigenous Peoples’ Spirituality and the Land

By Rev. Yangkahao Vashum

In the tribal society, the land is owned by the community in general. For example the land tenure in Naga society is well reflected in the report that follows: In Nagaland, each tribe had a well demarcated territory within the villages inhabited by that tribe were located, with well-defined boundaries. Though the practice of each tribe differed, the village land was generally classified as (a) common village land, (b) clan land, (c) individual land, and (d) morung land.

The village council was responsible for the management. Clan land was mostly jhum land owned by a particular clan certain areas, usually terraced land were owned by individuals. Some portion of the village land was designated for morung where the young boys slept there. 1) Similar system is also found among the Khasi-Jaintias of Meghalaya. The land is classified into Ri Kynti (clan land) and Ri Raij (community land). 2) The principle behind this land system is to ensure that no one in the village is made landless and poor. In the past, landlessness and beggars were unknown to the tribal society.

The cited report is expressive of the land system among the tribals in the Northeast India in general. In most cases, it is the community or the village that owns the land. The village chief holds the nominal ownership of the land. 3) The village chief is normally assisted by the village council, the people’s representatives. However, the ultimate power rests in the hands of the people as a whole, who empower the chief and the council to carry out the tasks on behalf of the village.

Although the land is in the hands of the people, like the Hebrews, the indigenous believe that “the earth and everything in it belongs to God.”(Ps.24:1). The Creator is the ultimate owner of the land. Therefore, land is a gift of God to the people. Secondly, for the indigenous people, land is life. Land is central to their lives. Their whole life activity revolves around the land and its surroundings. It is central to their identity, history, spirituality, economy and their very survival. Land is life because the land has her own distinct life; the land is never a dead object. It is a living entity endowed with spirits. “In a non-literate society the land is their scripture through which they read about the spirits and God and create myths and songs.” 4)

Thirdly, the importance of land to the indigenous people lies in the fact that even the Supreme Being is understood in relation to the land. A number of the Northeast Indian tribes including the Aos, Sangtams and Chang Nagas call their Supreme Being, Lijaba. Li means “soil” and Jaba means “enter”, meaning “the one who enters” or “indwells in the soil.” 5) It is the belief of the people that Lijaba enters into the earth with the seeds and rises up again along with the crops. Hence for the people, the blooming flowers, trees bearing fruits and rice signify the presence of the Creator. Thirdly, the tribal people’s notion of time and history are related to the land. Their yearly calendar and agricultural activities are based on the cycle of the earth. All the festivals, dances and songs of the people are connected with land.

Moreover, their religious activities are all centered on the land. R. R. Shimray poignantly puts it, “Every mountain, every range, and every ridge has a legend and every peak a tale to tell.” 6) Fourthly, tribals believe that it is the land that owns the people and not the other way round. The people know that it is the land that gives them their identity. Land is therefore highly respected. Fifthly, people’s ethical life is again closely related and based on the land. As long as one lives on this earth, one is expected to live an honest and truthful life. Honesty, truthfulness, sincerity and faithfulness are highly valued virtues among the tribal people. First, they believe the Supreme Being is everywhere and knows everything.

And so they live in the constant awareness of the presence of the Supreme Being. Secondly, they also believe that land is older than human beings and therefore the land is wiser than the humans. One of the tribal wisdom says: “The land never lies; do not lie to the land.” Swearing in the name of the Supreme Being and the land is like an anathema. Only for resolving serious cases such as land or boundary disputes, when every possible effort fail, people resort to swearing in the name of the Supreme Being by eating a lump of soil. Normally, the one who gets sick or dies prematurely is declared the guilty one.


Ref:

1) Planning Commission, The Report of the Working Group on the Land System Among Tribals in the North Eastern India, May 1984.

2) R.T. Rymbai, “The Traditional Ecological Concepts of the Khasi-Pnars,” in The Tribal Worldview and Ecology, Tribal Study Series no.2, ed. A. Wati Longchar and Yangkahao Vashum (Jorhat: Tribal Study Centre, 1998), 16.

3) There are tribes like the Kukis of Manipur and the Sumis of Nagaland where land holding is in the hands of the village chiefs.

4) Thanzauva, Theology of Community, 130. For a detail discussion on tribal concept of land refer to Yangkahao Vashum, “Theology of Land: A Naga Perspective,” in The Tribal Worldview and Ecology, Tribal Study Series no.2, eds. A. Wati Longchar and Yangkahao Vashum (Jorhat: Tribal Study Centre, 1998),69-94.

5) A. Wati Longchar, “A Creation-Poem of the Ao Nagas: A Theological Exploration,” in The Tribal Worldview and Ecology, Tribal Study Series no.2, eds. A. Wati Longchar and Yangkahao Vashum (Jorhat: Tribal Study Centre, 1998), 16.

6) Shimray, Origin and Culture of the Nagas, 6.

Pluralism in Asia

By Neilan D’Souza

The month of April is very important for us Christians as we celebrate the feast of Easter. The significance of Easter as we all know lies in the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day from the dead. His resurrection is the most important miracle of the Christian faith. Easter also marks the beginning of a liturgical new year. With this message of newness that ‘Christ is risen’ and a renewed spirit of the new church year, how should we Christians introspect our own faith?

One simple way of introspecting our own faith is to recognise the religious diversity of a society (where we live) or country, promoting freedom of religion; in other words practicing ‘Pluralism’. Asian society today has become extremely polarised religiously due to the prevailing political situations. Harmonious and peaceful religious teachings are being fundamentalised in order to provoke hatred, leading to drastic attacks in our own societies.

Many such examples can be observed today, be it the misunderstanding & mistreatment of Muslims in Korea by the majority (Buddhists, Confucians & Christians), Hindus & Christians in Pakistan by major Islam, Christians & Muslims in India by major Hindus, Intolerance against Christians and between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka, Disputes between Christian and Islamic communities in Indonesia; all which has broadly been used to instigate fear in minority communities leaving them vulnerable.

When we observe such events taking place in our communities, we must not refrain ourselves from helping the oppressed communities because it does not involve our faith or religion, but rather support, protect or become a voice for the suffering communities. This engagement is very important because it strengthens our faith and helps develop ties between religious communities in our society and largely in Asia.

On the 24th of April as we commemorate the The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, we as Christians must practice ‘Pluralism’ which in many ways aids the world in developing multilateral relationships including diplomacy for peace.