Ubuntu- Legacy of Desmond Tutu

By: Dr. Paul Hwang – Director of All Forum

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.

How to involve the Church in the peace movement?

How to involve the Church in the peace movement?

By: Rev R.W Timm, CSC

How to involve the Church in the peace movement?

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.

Ref:

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.

Neoliberal Globalisation and Role of the Church

By: Fr. Prakash Louis, SJ

Locating the issue

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).

Neoliberalism

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.

Peace is Possible

By: Neilan D’Souza

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.

Justice in Daily Christian Life

Justice in Daily Christian Life

By: Neilan Dsouza

As we begin the month of November, continuing the theme of justice in the world for the second time, it is crucial for us to understand the term Justice more deeply and in connection with our daily christian lives. 

The Church received three very important teachings from Jesus Christ himself: 1) The mission of preaching the Gospel message, 2) Universal kinship and 3) A consequent demand for justice in the world. Out of which the Church tirelessly practices only the mission of preaching the Gospel, while the latter two are usually neglected. We as Lay faithful, often only follow the duties of attending Sunday mass regularly, joining in prayer services, participating in charitable and voluntary works lead by the church but never practice our faith beyond these matters mainly because we are not aware that it is our Christian responsibility to do so.

Paragraph 38 of ‘Justice in the World’ informs us that “The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfill their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life. They must accept their responsibilities in this entire area under the influence of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. In this way they testify to the power of the Holy Spirit through their action in the service of people in those things which are decisive for the existence and the future of humanity.”

Therefore we cannot simply neglect Jesus’ teachings of Universal Kinship and A consequent demand for justice in the world because, it altogether forms the core identity of being a true follower of Christ. As mentioned in the paragraph above we must act as a leaven (transforming influence) in our own little ways, accepting that achieving Universal Kinship (being inclusive and finding relation with one another as one family) and striving for justice through action inspired by love and right is our Christian responsibility.

Importance of Justice in the World

Importance of Justice in the World

Dr. Paul Hwang Director of ALL Forum

“The Practice of Justice”

This is the subtitle of the third part in the document Justice in the World . It includes what I have already mentioned in the previous issue ‘the Church must first be just in people’s eyes when it says something about justice.’(no.40) The document also shows its support ‘diversity’ of the voices of the People of God by pointing out “freedom of expression.” “The Church recognizes everyone’s right to suitable freedom of expression and thought. This includes the right of everyone to be heard in a spirit of dialogue which preserves a legitimate diversity within the Church.” So the church should not be excluded such diversity, rather it promotes and guarantees plurality in ideas, interpretation and thoughts on church teachings and even dogma by learning to be “listening Church” stressed often by Pope Francis.

In the same line with Gaudium et Spes , the document on world bishops’ synod points out the principle of the Gospel when it comes to the relationship between State and the Church: “In regard to temporal possessions, whatever be their use, it must never happen that the evangelical witness which the Church is required to give becomes ambiguous. The preservation of certain positions of privilege must  constantly be submitted to the test of this principle….”(no.47) The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World cleary supports the said idea right above: “[Church] will even give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness or that new ways of life demand new methods….In this, she should make use of all the means—but only those—which accord with the Gospel and which correspond to the general good according to the diversity of times and circumstances.”(no.76.e)

Justice and Daily Life of the People of God

The document of the Justice in the World is quite meaningful for laypeople as itlinks justice to everyday life of Christians as a believer and a citizen at the same time. “Christians’ specific contribution to justice is the day-to-day life of individual believers acting like the leaven of the Gospel in their family, their school, their work and their social and civic life. …. Accordingly, educational method must be such as to teach people to live their lives in its entire reality and in accord with the evangelical principles of personal and social morality which are expressed in the vital Christian witness of one’s life.” (no.49) It goes on to spread and expand the ‘double membership’ as a faithful and a citizen to the extent of a world citizenship which concerns what happens in theworld today: “…This cooperation concerns first and foremost activities for securing

human dignity and people’s fundamental rights, especially the right to religious liberty. This is the source of our common efforts against discrimination on the grounds of differences of religion, race and color, culture and the like.

Collaboration extends also to the study of the teaching of the Gospel insofar as it is the source of inspiration for all Christian activity…”(no.61) The synod document notes that the principles it follows are found in CSTs from Rerum Novarum to the letter Octogesima Adveniens . There is a remarkable connection between the one of its most significant paragraphs and the one which

mentions “salvation by deeds of justice.”(no.56) The former is the phrase of ‘Action for justice as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel’(no.6) which is closely interrelated to the latter: In the better understanding of the world situation provided by Gaudium et Spes, “Christian works out their salvation by deeds of justice.” The document clearly mentions the principle ideas such as human rights, international justice, the right to development, political action found in Pacem in Terris, Mater et Magistra, Populorum Progressio , and Octogesima Adveniens respectively influenced by the Gospel itself and Vatican II, particularly Gaudium et Spes . It also put much emphasis on peace by saying that “It is absolutely necessary that international conflicts should not be settled by war, but that other methods better befitting human nature should be found. Let a strategy of non-violence be fostered also, and let conscientious objection be recognized and regulated by law in each nation.” (no.65)

ALL Forum invites you to join our Webinar for Peace in East & South East Asia

ALL Forum invites you to join our Webinar for Peace in East & South East Asia

Conflict and oppression in the 21 st century has taken newer forms. Systems of Law, Order and Justice which were once the focal point for Nation building and prosperity have slowly evolved into oppressive mechanisms which control the liberty of fellow citizens in numerous ways.

In the light of such situations it is evident that we as Church must strongly participate in building peace for the world especially in Asia, inspired by the 1971 Synod of Bishops – ‘Justice in the World’ document (para 6), which says “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.” 

Therefore, Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum aspires to organize a one day webinar for peace in Hong Kong, Myanmar, Philippines, Korean Peninsula and the said region by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the important document ‘Justice in the World’, which requires the Church to be renewed and also reformed. It is so that we invite all the peace-loving people in Asia to understand deeply the situation unfolding in East and South East Asia and what role the Laity and Church must play in order to promote peace and justice

today.

Join us on November 20, 2021 (Saturday) 5:00-8:00 pm Philippines time (GMT+8).
Click the button below to register!

Empowerment Of Women In The Church And Society

By Sr Mariola B.S.

Empowerment Of Women In The Church And Society

Status of women in our society

God created man and woman alike, in his own image. But discrimination of women has become naturally accepted phenomena almost all over the globe. The status of women in Asia is all the

more pathetic.

An Analysis of the Causes

The culture of domination, marginalization and exclusion which embodies ideas, beliefs, values, traditions, rules, norms, perspectives (ideologies) that prefer males/sons has been styled the culture of patriarchy. Through dominating social structures men own, control and manage financial, intellectual and ideological resources as well as the labor, fertility and sexuality of women, and thus perpetuate gender discrimination. Such a culture produces stereotyped notions of how a woman or man should behave (in words and actions), whereby they themselves become transmitters of the above value system. Consequently women also become both victims and victimizers.

The process of globalization which is marketcentered and profit driven, leads to further exploitation of women as cheap labour resulting in the increasing pauperization of women. Fundamentalism and communalism reinforce the subjugation of women to men, suppress women’s movements by dividing women along religious lines and intensify violence against women.

Situation of Women in the Church and Society

The socio-cultural situation of women should not be understood in the same way among all social classes and ethnic groups especially among the marginalised and the oppressed. It has its lights and its shadows. Though we have examples of empowered women in leadership positions and role-models like Blessed Mother Theresa and Saint Alphonsa, nevertheless the reality of women of all sections reveals instances of domestic and societal violence on young girls and women. Depending on the regions, female feticide, infanticide, rape, molestation, kidnapping, abduction, battering, dowry deaths, murdering, trafficking for sex and slavery exist even today.

Women of the marginalized groups such as dalits, tribals, indigenous people, migrants, victims of HIV AIDS, backward castes and minorities suffer much due to poverty, illhealth, lack of access to literacy and appropriate knowledge and lack of hygiene and potable water. In addition, they are being displaced from their lands and livelihoods. They suffer systemic and structural violence that enslave them and dehumanize them economically, socio-politically and religio-culturally.

Gender discrimination has negative effects on boys and men as well. It damages their psyche and increases the incidence of morbidity and crime among them. Relations of distrust, conflict, competition and many forms of subtle abuse emerge instead of those rooted in values of caring, sharing, compassion, mutual respect, collaboration and partnership. Such discrimination thus has negative consequences on human relations.

It is noticed that the structures which facilitate collaborative partnership between women and men as well as clergy and laity needs improvement. In 1992, the CBCI General Assembly stated, “with a sense of sorrow we must admit that the women feel discriminated against, even in the Church”. In the decisionmaking and the consultative structures like the Parish Pastoral Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Diocesan Finance Committee which are canonically advocated structures in the Church, the presence of women is inadequate.

In spite of the great contribution of lay women in spheres of education, health care, etc., their potentials are yet to be sufficiently tapped in the administrative and executive roles, as well as theological, liturgical, pastoral and missionary apostolates of the Church.

Signs of Hope

In the midst of this distressing situation there are signs of hope. The Church has been spearheading several initiatives to bring about positive changes in the life situation of women and girls. From the time of the early Christian missionaries who placed emphasis on the education of both girls and boys, through its multiple interventions in the fields of welfare, education, health and the empowerment process to organize women, the Catholic Church has played a prominent role to improve the status of women.

Besides the Church and ecumenical bodies, government and non governmental organizations, trade unions and social movements have played a significant role in facilitating change. Through its policies, for example, the National Policy on the Empowerment of Women, and legislative measures, the Government has contributed to the cause of women. By signing international declarations and conventions such as Human Rights, Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Violence against Women, the Government of India has taken a stand in favour of gender justice.

As a result, many women leaders both lay and religious are emerging in the public sphere such as local governance and political leadership. The process of generation of counter-cultural literature and media material, and the revival of subjugated memories of resistance by women against oppression and exploitation are influencing change in mindsets of people to a greater or lesser extent across space and culture. The promotion of appropriate ecclesiastical ministries among

women in the Church is another sign of their participation in the mission of the Church.

The Vision of Christ

Situating the teachings and actions of Christ in the context of Palestinian Judaism, we see how the evangelists not only highlight Jesus’ concern for women, but also his radical redefining of their place and role in their society. In a culture where women were seen only in relation to men, Christ not only liberated them from their oppressive traditions but upheld their dignity e.g. the Samaritan woman (Jn.4:7-42) and Mary and Martha (Jn.11:20-40). He used the life-experiences of women as a paradigm of God’s love and Christian discipleship for all: woman and lost coin, woman and the dough and woman at birth pangs. Even at his death and burial, women were

among those who bore testimony. Jesus entrusted to the women that they announce the Good News of Resurrection to his disciples.

St. Paul reiterates the equality of men and women (Gal.3:28) and continues to refer to many exemplary women. The early Christian Community was sustained by the deep faith of women who shared in the apostolic ministry e.g. Priscilla, Lydia, Phoebe, etc.

In her teaching, the Church continues to uphold the dignity of women, uniqueness of motherhood (Letter to Women, 2), and the complementarity and reciprocity between men and women.

Reflection: What do we need in order to practice Integral Ecology?

Reflection: What do we need in order to practice Integral Ecology?

By Susana Sitaresmi Kusuma Wardhani

Shallom Asian Lay Leaders Forum,

Recently, we are faced with one complex crisis in our world which is both social and enviromental. Actually, human development, peace and ecological issue is interconnected, we can not separated one from another and Laudato Si combines human development  and peace and ecology as integral ecology.

Environmental destruction by human beings always creates significant  economic discrepancy with the poor, we must understand that there is a relationship between “the cry of the earth” and “the cry of the poor people”. Therefore, it is very important for us to undertake development only by considering the true ecological approach and emphasizing on integral ecology.

In order to create this new model of development we need to focus on two key things. We must first focus on ecological community conversion. This conversion  calls us for a number of attitudes, gratitude and also feeling gratefulness towards GOD. The second one is to develop a sense of ecological spirituality or commitment which recognizes that “each creature reflects something of God and has a message to convey to us”. This is exactly what Pope Francis asks all of us Christians to recognize and to live fully this dimension of our conversion with an action plan, to start from something as little as a family, a church, parishes, school, college, health care, farms and province. Thank you

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.