Vatican II and Justice in the World

Dr. Paul Hwang – Director of ALL Forum

Gaudium et Spes and Justice in the World

In this year we celebrate the 50 th anniversary of publication of the Justice in the world , the final document of the 2 nd World Bishops’ Synod in 1971. As we have seen often in this section of the newsletter, the document was not born out of nothing. It has had much to do with and been much influenced by Vatican II especially Gaudium et Spes or Joy and Hope (1965), one of the most important documents of the first world pastoral council. Indeed, before the Vatican II documents, it could find its trace in the Mother an Teacher (1961), or Mater et Magistra, and Peace in the World (1963) or Pacem et Terris , the both encyclicals written by Pope John 23. It was Gaudium et Spes which clearly provided the idea of the just economy order in the world (no. 85) for the first time among the Church’s official documents.

We could find a more integrated perspective on Catholic Social teachings when it comes to relation of justice, peace and equality. Firstly, it shows a close connection between justice and peace issues by stating “In order to build up peace above all the causes of discord among men, especially injustice, which foment wars must be rooted out.”(no. 83, and no. 84-87). Secondly, from the perspective of justice, equality, and human dignity, it suggests ‘genuine human development’ as follows: “To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination.” (no.66)

Action for Justice as Constitutive Dimension of the Gospel

These paragraphs in Gaudium et Spes mentioned right above and the encyclical Populorum Pregresio or On the Development of Peoples (1967) written by Pope Paul XI, which succeeded the spirit of the former, directly influenced the Church’s perception of justice and peace as if it is just one concept. Similarly, the document Justice in the World raised the issue of justice in earnest by proclaiming that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a 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, stress added.) It also insisted that “Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one’s neighbor.” (no.34).

Church Renewal or Reform in the Document

One of most important paragraphs in relation to Church renewal after Vatican II in Catholic Social Teachings was stated in the Justice in the world by stating “While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, she recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and life style found within the Church herself.” (no. 40). No Church document mentioned justice within the Church as seen in the document. It goes on to point out “We also urge that women should have their own share of responsibility and participation in the community life of society and likewise of the Church. We propose that this matter be subjected to a serious study employing adequate means: for instance, a mixed commission of men and women, religious and lay people, of differing situations and competence.” (no. 42-43) It also recognized and stressed just wage and important role in the Church for lay people: “Those who serve the Church by their labor, including priests and religious, should receive a sufficient livelihood and enjoy that social security which is customary in their region. Lay people should be given fair wages and a system for promotion. We reiterate the recommendations that lay people should exercise more important functions with regard to Church property and should share in its administration.”(no. 41) In this sense the document surely is one of the champions for Church renewal in many aspects.

Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno I

Social Justice in Quadragesimo Anno I

by Dr. Paul Hwang –   Director of ALL Forum

Historical background

ALL Forum has been holding an online course on major documents of Pope Francis including ALL Brothers or Fratelli Tutti for Indonesian Catholics including youth.

Mentioned in one session already, Fratelli Tutti has a historical background similar to Pope Pius XI’s 40th Anniversary or Quardragesimo Anno (1931). The latter was published for the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891), which marks the 130th anniversary this year. The first papal document which what we called “Catholic Social Teachings” is a good example of social doctrine.

The 40th Anniversary came almost immediately after the Great Depression (1930), in a situation of fascism in Italy that was Mussolini’s iron fist rule and Hitler’s rush to power in Germany. The encyclical is Pius XI’s attempt to stop the ‘bomb’ called World War II. The background and meaning of the document and Fratelli Tutti which is the most comprehensive of Pope Francis’ documents so far is remarkably similar.

Major Issues

Pius XI criticized both free market capitalism and communism, and sought ‘a third way’ based on traditional Catholic social teachings. Pius XI suggested corporatist structures in place in Italy at that time as the third way between socialism and capitalism. He trusted that such corporatist associations or organizations had the advantages of “peaceful collaboration of the classes, repression of socialist organizations and efforts, the moderating authority of a special ministry.” (no. 95). It introduced the term ‘social justice’ into the social teachings, using it to describe

the just relationships between groups in society required by recognition of the demands of the common good (no. 57-58).

“To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice.” (no.58)

Another important contribution is its formal articulation of the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic Social Teachings as follows:

“Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” (no.79)

Lastly, Pius XI’s encouragement of laymen’s participation both inside and outside the church by formulating Catholic Action in Quardragesimo Anno and particularly his document called Divini Redemptoris (1937) which more clearly and formally recognized the Catholic Action. That would be compared to the Pope Francis’ statement of the “popular movements” as “social poets” (no.169) in the Fratelli Tutti which we will dig into in the next issue.

Renewed Action

Renewed Action

by Neilan D’souza

The theme of this month’s E-newsletter is based on the Apostolic Letter ‘Octogesima Adveniens’ addressed by Pope Paul VI to Cardinal Maurice Roy (on 14 May 1971), the then president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. In his letter, Pope Paul VI tries to highlight many social issues faced by the people at the time and tries to inspire renewed action for lay members to participate in social and political reform according to the Gospel.

Why was it then and still important now for the laity to participate in social and political reform? You may ask. It is simply because the pressing issues of the times are always faced by the common people and from time to time it has always been the common people who have sought ways to move those in power and bring about positive change. Likewise, Pope Paul VI points out in paragraph 4 of ‘Octogesima Adveniens’ that “It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel’s unalterable words and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the Church.”

Pope Paul VI calls for “Awakening the People of God” in para 51 and importantly calls for Christian organisations to take responsibility for collective action as he quotes lines from ‘Lumen Gentium’ and ‘Apostolicam Actuositatem’ stating, “It is in this regard too that Christian organizations, under their different forms, have a responsibility for collective action. Without putting themselves in the place of the institutions of civil society, they have to express, in their own way and rising above their particular nature, the concrete demands of the Christian faith for a just, and consequently necessary, transformation of society.”

Building on these ideas put forward by Pope Paul VI, we the laity must engage in renewed action led by our Christian faith, atleast at the community or local level, because it has always been our duty as Christians and also as the principle teaching of CST’s to secure democratic foundations in society by ensuring human dignity and social justice. Therefore through this issue we invite you to be inspired by your faith and take steps towards renewed action.

Reading Octogesim Advenins through Liberation and Development

Reading Octogesim Advenins through Liberation and Development

Dr. Paul Hwang – Director of ALL Forum

After the General Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) in Medellin, Columbia, (1968), Pope Paul VI published in 1971 an important document on social issues, Octogesim Advenins, or the “Eightieth Anniversary”, as a response to the Medellin conference which seemed to influence the pope in a significant way. It is the papal letter commemorating the 80th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. The letter refers to his another encyclical Populorum Pregressio (1967) or “On Development of the Peoples” in several places, but with a different perspective. It shows its relationship with Gaudium et Spes (1965), one of most important documents of Vatican II; the subsequent Populorum Pregressio, which focuses on an integral development and the Medellin document which emphasizes on liberation. The paragraphs 5 and 6  of Octogesim Advenins illustrate this well:

“Since the period in which the encyclical Rerum Novarum denounced in a forceful and imperative manner the scandal of the condition of the workers in the nascent industrial society, historical evolution has led to an awareness of other dimensions and other applications of social justice. The encyclicals Quadragesimo Anno and Mater et Magistra already noted this fact. The recent Council for its part took care to point them out, in particular in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. We ourself have already continued these lines of thought in our encyclical Populorum Progressio. ‘Today’, we said, ‘the principal fact that we must all recognize is that the social question has become worldwide’.” (no.5)

“It will moreover be for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops itself to study more closely and to examine in greater detail the Church’s mission in the face of grave issues raised today by the question of justice in the world.”(no.6)

Pope Paul VI asserts “development is a new name for peace” in his Populorum Pregressio. The Pope believes that a beneficial development for all is the way to respond to the demand for justice at the global level, and that if justice at the global level is implemented, peace can be achieved in the world. In 1967, Paul VI established the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace to practice development and peace. He consciously addressed some of the political issues involved in choosing and implementing a fair social order, focusing on political issues that lay in the economic crisis. Therefore, it attempted to balance development and liberation. The Saint pope also institutionalized a synod of bishops to specifically support the Vatican II’s decision and to determine follow-up measures. In 1971, the bishops’ synod published “Justice in the World”, one of the most significant document in the area of Catholic Social Teachings or CSTs of the Church especially the theme of social justice. The text emphasizes that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.” (no. 6).

Many leaders, including bishops, still believed that the way to overcome poverty was through development. The expression ‘liberation through development’ represents an attempt to take into account various situations and prospects. The emphasis on the importance of political activities or involvement expressed in the paragraph 46 of Octogesima Advenins is also seen as an important contribution to CSTs as follows:

“Though it is often a field of confrontation and domination, it can give rise to dialogue and foster cooperation. Yet it runs the risk of taking up too much strength and freedom. This is why the need is felt to pass from economics to politics…. Political power, which is the natural and necessary link for ensuring the cohesion of the social body, must have as its aim the achievement of the common good.”(no. 46)

Reading Rerum Novarum in New Era

Reading Rerum Novarum in New Era

by Dr. Paul Hwang Director of ALL Forum

Let me start this short essay with where we are by bringing what we call “the 4th Industiral Revolution here.” On January 20, 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, was attended by senior government officials from more than 100 countries and 1,500 CEOs from large companies to discuss “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Klaus Schwab, president of the World Economic Forum, said the huge wave was an opportunity and a challenge.

He said technological innovation “will bring supply-side miracles due to increased productivity,” but it could “deepen inequality and cause serious confusion in the labor market.”

From this, we would say that in this rapidly changing world we face great promises to the future and deadly risks coexist at the same time. Pope Francis feared that the already extreme polarization, inequality, and unjust world situation would worsen into the “fourth industrial revolution.” In a letter to the chairman of the World Economic Forum, the pope said, “The culture of prosperity should not drive us to death and stop us from hearing the suffering and howling of the poor.” In particular, he stressed that “a new business model should be created,” fearing “a surge in inequality and poverty” and “a sharp decrease in the number of jobs.”

At that time, Oxfam, the world’s largest international relief and development organization, announced, “The wealth of the 62 richest people is equivalent to the wealth of half the world’s population.” In this situation of wealth polarization, our sense of problem is that we have entered an era where the form of labor and the consciousness of workers are rapidly changing.

Of course, what I mentioned just above is quite different from the era when Pope Leo XIII lived. It is clear that Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum precisely because he saw significant injustice in the plight of the working class. He believed that justice in the realm of work includes right working conditions proper to the dignity of each worker, and sufficient income and benefits to maintain material wellbeing. Another word, Leo XIII maintained that labor must serve the good of the worker. It should be the work that promotes the human development of the individual worker and contributes positively to the good of society. Decent work must be categorized by its fairness to the personal and social dimensions of human labor.

When Pope Leo XIII wrote the document, it was during the Second Industrial Revolution and the development of industrial labor led to a significant spread of factory-style mechanical labor. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Leo XIII defended the principles of private property and markets, but did not see the free contract system as complete. This was because powerful capitalists saw that contracts with weak workers were not equal and that human rights of many workers were violated.

Under the current economic system led by neoliberalism, labor is highly fragmented and contractual labor dominates. Now, not the era of proletariat, but the era of Pricariat, which refers to the unstable labor-free class suffering from low-wage and low-skilled labor, has arrived. It is a combination of the Italian word Precario, which means unstable, and proletariat. More commonly used in Europe, the term refers to persons in short-term jobs, without job security or benefits such as health insurance, sick time and reimbursement for vehicle maintenance. Workers who are part of the precariat lack the ability to bargain over the terms of their employment.

When examining such a unequal economic system mainly good for those in the power to “influence”, if not control, the market economy, it remains helpful to recall Leo XIII’s assessment to “free contract”. He noted that even if workers accept harsh conditions due to an employer’s unwillingness to offer better conditions, it implies that the worker does not freely consent but ends up with the victim of unjust coercion often. Under the circumstance, the contract between the capitalist and the laborer is problematic especially when there are few better options for members of the precariat.
It is a well-known fact that there has been a trend in tradition of Catholic church to protect and promote not only the physical dimension but also the spiritual one of humans. However, it must be seen that how many of these unsteady and fragmented workers will live humane lives is quite different from the times of Leo XIII’s writing this document in 130 years ago.

It is surely the case that the class struggle between the capitalists and the laborers theorized by Karl Marx may not be valid any longer even in some Asian countries where, for instance, insurance fund collected from the laborers is spent for paying for the retirement pension of the capitalists! Rather, the tension and discrimination among regular workers and irregular contract workers themselves are getting increased more and more. The church, therefore, must be careful and alert in responding to the needs of the laborers in various situations.

Rerum Novarum and Human Rights of Laborers

Rerum Novarum and Human Rights of Laborers

Dr. Paul Hwang Director of ALL Forum

The Church has made ethical judgments on social issues and published them in writings, which is called Catholic Social Teaching, CST. These texts are necessarily influenced by, and are intended to answer, the major social problems of the time. The encyclical “On Capital and Labor”(Rerum Novarum) is an important social teaching of the Church that illustrates this well.

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII published the first papal document to present a comprehensive view of social issues, entitled “Rerum Novarum“. The pope strongly criticized the problems of capitalism as well as the illusions of socialism that were popular at the time. Since the 18th century, industrialization has progressed rapidly, leading to new technologies and major changes in laborer-capitalist relations. The polarization of wealth, which very few possess and many suffer from poverty, emerged as a major problem. The problem of poor working conditions faced by workers at that time was one of the serious side effects of industrialization. Although industrialization and factory labor have made great progress in productivity, they have forced workers to sacrifice themselves on the other hand. In addition to adult male workers, women and young children often worked long hours. Wages were lowered and life was impoverished. Long hours of work fatally deteriorated workers’ health and contributed to physical illness, disasters and accidents. In this situation, Rerum Novarum said the church supports workers’ legitimate demands, such as ensuring workers’ legitimate wages and the right to form labor unions.

The papal document rather concretely addresses the human rights situation of workers in this situation as follows: “…the first thing of all to secure is to save unfortunate working people from the cruelty of men of greed, who use human beings as mere instruments for money-making. It is neither just nor human so to grind men down with excessive labor as to stupefy their minds and wear out their bodies…. Finally, work which is quite suitable for a strong man cannot rightly be required from a woman or a child. And, in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed.” (no. 42)

For this reason, the Rerum Novarum was also known as the “Magna Carta of Labor”. The meaning of the Magna Carta of Labor can be given to workers in modern society in terms of protecting and promoting human dignity, which not only has a lot of influence on labor laws in Western countries, but has become the basis of labor laws in their countries.

The document acknowledges that private property rights are fundamental human rights and natural rights, and that it is impossible for human power to completely eliminate social inequality, while presenting obligations for capitalists and employers. The most important duty is to pay workers fair wages. Even if workers and employers sign contracts and decide wages through bilateral agreements, basic justice should always be reflected. Wages should not be insufficient for workers to maintain a frugal life and a minimum comfortable life.

Rerum Novarum emphasizes the importance of defining distributions. It points out that it is a proper duty for the rich to distribute goods to the poor, except for what is essential to their lives and necessary to maintain their status. It also points out that the most important duty of a national ruler is to strictly and fairly abide by the just distribution and take care of citizens of all walks of life. After this document, the Catholic Church became deeply interested in and participated in prophetic works that protect human dignity from social injustice, poverty and the gap between rich and poor, human rights violations and discrimination, violence and war.

In fact, since the document, the Catholic Church has consistently announced rules of association based on social interest since the 40th anniversary of Rerum Novarum by publishing Quadragesimo Annus by Pius XI in 1931. In 1981, Pope John Paul II updated and commemorated the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum in 1991 by publishing Centesimus Annus showing “how the Church should understand and speak out about labor and labor issues in the changing world”.

As such, Rerum Novarum has had a significant impact on the enactment of labor-related laws in many countries including Germany since the 20th century by proposing concrete measures to promote human rights of workers in serious condition.

Human Fraternity for Myanmar People

Human Fraternity for Myanmar People

Dr. Paul Hwang, Director of ALL Forum

The world is vividly witnessing the killings of Myanmar‘s military at the time of overviewing the “act” part of the papal document in this month newsletter, which is coincidental. No matter how good the “Good Samaritan” was, if he had just left the robbed and injured behind, no one would have had to die lonely on the side of the road. Likewise, no matter how well a Christian is in doing “seejudge” part as CST’s methodology, it would have been nothing more than intellectual play unless he or she tries to save the dying people, particularly Myanmar people at this moment, in the face of indiscriminated shootings by soldiers who are “not riot police but combat troops” witnessed by Myanmar citizens at the street protests.

As in the parable of the good Samaritan, many people seem to think more and more that they have nothing to do with their business or plans even when they see someone falling down or being seriously injured on the streets. They reject strangers who are regarded to threaten their identities and established order, and consider only those who meet the purpose they seek as “neighbors.” We have to go beyond this world of “between ourselves.” Social fraternity, which can transcend boundaries, is not a false universalism that seeks to uniform and level out everyone.

An inadequate understanding of universal love deprives the world of diversity, beauty, and ultimately humanity. For “the future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same!” (no. 100)

It is a great challenge for Christians because it is not really easy to go beyond the culture of “between ourselves”. The Myanmar military has been able to rule for 60 years by separating the Burmese, which account for some 70 percent of
the population, and 160 other tribal groups, to fight each other. Typically, Rohingya Muslims were bleeding their blood on the altar by the military as scapegoats. Recently, there was also a media report which said that a white youth went into an Asian massage parlor in Atlanta, Georgia, US and fired a firearm killing 8 people including 6 Asians due to a psychological disease, but he was not spared free from the “hate crimes” caused by hating racial differences or ethnic differences such
as “Asian” people.

The reason for the recent “Not In My Backyard” among residents who have banned the construction of a Muslim shrine in Daegu, southern part of S. Korea, seems to be not because of “inconvenience of daily life” but rather regarded as “unwanted facility” such as charnel houses and garbage dumps. It would be clear if the residents were asked whether they would have opposed it so much even if a Catholic or Protestant churches, or Buddhist temple came in. In a world where “hate in us” is real, it is extremely difficult to dream of a culture of welcoming strangers, migrants and refugees.

Complex problems arise when immigrants become our neighbors. It is desirable for each person to enjoy a dignified life where he or she is born so that he or she does not have to migrate, but until such conditions are met, the rights of migrants and their families should be respected. When immigrants come to us, Pope Francis ask us that we should show an attitude of welcome, protect, promote and integrate.

For “it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity”. (no. 129) A mid- to longterm international cooperation system is needed. Migrants from different cultures can be mutual gifts. Thanks to the migrants, the society is given an opportunity for abundance and full human development. We should treat immigrants as human beings with equal dignity, not as a threat.

Through meetings with other cultures, we experience greater abundance and maturity. We should communicate with each other, discover each other’s grace, and make a match, and use each other’s differences as an opportunity to mature.The Pope says it is difficult to understand himself and his country clearly and completely without meeting and exchanging with others.

“In fact, a healthy openness never threatens one’s own identity. A living culture, enriched by elements from other places, does not import a mere carbon copy of those new elements, but integrates them in its own unique way. The result is a new synthesis that is ultimately beneficial to all, since the original culture itself ends up being nourished…For “our own cultural identity is strengthened and enriched as a result of dialogue with those unlike ourselves. Nor is our authentic identity reserved by an impoverished isolation”. (no.148)

It is no exaggeration to say that the promotion of diversity depends on how active civil society movements, or popular movements, are at the local, national and international levels. Pope Francis, who has discovered the importance of popular movements, calls it a “social poet.”

“Those movements manage various forms of popular economy and of community production. What is needed is a model of social, political and economic participation ‘that can include popular movements and invigorate local, national and international governing structures with that torrent of moral energy that springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny’, while also ensuring that ‘these experiences of solidarity which grow up from below, from the subsoil of the planet – can come together, be more coordinated, keep on meeting one another’. This, however, must happen in a way that will not betray their distinctive way of acting as ‘sowers of change, promoters of a process involving millions of actions, great and small, creatively intertwined like words in a poem’. In that sense, such movements are ‘social poets’ that, in their own way, work, propose, promote and liberate.”(no.169)

Our religious experience and wisdom are the ultimate foundation for respecting human dignity and recognizing each other as true brothers and sisters. In society, there should be a place for reflection from religious traditions, which have accumulated experiences and wisdom over a long period of time, as well as stories of powerful people and experts. The
mission of the church is not limited to the private sphere, but also plays a public role in promoting the development of mankind and universal brotherhood. A journey of peace is also possible between religions. Believers should stop their acts of contempt, hatred, xenophobia, or deny others, which are far from God’s love and neighbor’s love. This is why we, Christians, should go out to build peace and become true “people of dialogue” for interreligious dialogue and cooperation.

Demanding better Politics, Dialogue & Friendship

Demanding better Politics, Dialogue & Friendship

By Neilan D’souza

Today there are about 7 billion people in this world. Our globalised civilization has arrived at the pinnacle of innovation in academics, research, medicine, technology and science ever since we were created. Our economies have grown richer than ever before and our countries stronger than ever before. Although, in contrast we have still failed to establish necessary care, protection and policy to those vulnerable and those who deserve it the most.

Politics today is often taking forms hindering progress towards creating a better world. Misuse of power, corruption everywhere, disregard for the law, war crimes and inefficiency by our Governments and political leaders has given rise to so much instability and unrest among the commoners. The word ‘Politics’ itself has become a distasteful word for many people today, due to the mistakes, inefficiency and corrupt practices by many of our politicians.

The value and power of Dialogue must never be undermined. As Pope Francis mentions in his latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti ‘Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in one word “dialogue”. If we want to encounter and help one another, we have to dialogue.’ It is only through dialogue that we can build bridges over walls and fix the misunderstandings amongst communities. We must create spaces for constructive dialogue to take place so that better relations can be developed among the troubled communities to overcome past differences and foster lasting friendships.

We must not ignore and be negligent to the wrong doings of our community leaders and governments. As Christians it is our righteous duty to join the many voices and demand for better politics and take initiatives to grow our voices in solidarity to demand better policy and uphold what is right.

Therefore, in this month’s issue of the E-Newsletter we invite our readers to experience the various efforts and approaches by our networks and partners in Demanding better Politics, Dialogue & Friendship in this world.

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)

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