A CALL TO ACTION TOWARDS HUMAN SECURITY, GENDER JUSTICE, INTER-CULTURAL AND INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE IN THE LIGHT OF IMPENDING ECOLOGICAL CRISIS
‘Heed the cry of the Earth and the cry of the Poor.’ (Laudato Si)
We, lay leaders, priests, Religious, and young church workers from 12 countries from various professions and backgrounds gathered at the Communal Life of Love and Unity of the Mountain People (CLUMP) Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 1st to 10th August, 2019.
We discussed various issues under the theme ‘Wisdom of Religious/Cultural Traditions in Asia as Responding to Ecological Crisis and Human Security’ in a forum organized by Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum, together with Research and Training Centre for Religio-Cultural Community (RTRC), and Communal Life of Love and Unity of the Mountain People (CLUMP) as the local hosts.
The 70 participants present at Asian Youth Academy (AYA) and Asian Theology Forum (ATF), 2019 recognized the urgency with which we need to address climate change and the disproportionate effects it has on the poor; peace building and inter-religious dialogue to build united action on preventing a global catastrophe.
We learned and realized synergy in the complementary relationship between formal education and Non-Formal Education (NFE) like that of Montfort College and AYA/ATF. CLUMP as a local host of the pan-Asian program for youth has played an important role including providing the venue for the program for which St. Gabriel Brothers has worked. The men’s religious congregation runs Montfort College which provides a solid “basic and formal” education for junior and senior secondary students. Representatives from the college joined the AYA/ATF program so that they could learn what have actually been happening in societies and religions in Asia today. In return, we young participants from other countries in Asia for AYA/ATF could also get a chance to learn their culture and religious traditions. We believe that it was a good example of how formal and non-formal educational learning could strengthen each other in a complementary manner which needs to explore further various type of collaborative models as an “effective and synergetic” educational training device in the future.
Indeed, it was a great privilege and opportunity that we as young Church-related organization actors could know and learn many “new themes” to us though they would take time to be fully digested: Poverty of farmers and Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Asia with regard to UN Declaration on the Right of Peasants and Other People (UNDRPOP), People having suffered living along the Mekong river because of mega-dam projects, Introduction and significance of Pan-Amazonian Synod in Rome this October, Women’s role in various religions and protection nature like what Pope Francis calls “Integral Ecology”, Gender justice, Contribution of laypeople in establishing “synodal church” in the world and many country reports presented from the young participants themselves.
We as all the participants in AYA/ATF, however, are saddened by the tremendous unjust practices in civil society and within the church hierarchy, which has drastic effects on the disadvantaged. There is a need for the People of God to assert their baptismal gifts and actively respond to Pope Francis’ call to “synodality” or “walking together” or “journeying
together” by taking up a prophetic leadership and decision-making positions within the Church alongside the clergy and Religious not below them.
We call on global citizens to set up creative synodal ways of decision-making, not only within the Church but also in government, community, and society especially in Asia, the continent dominated by authoritative regimes, patriarchal and male clergy-centered religions, and human-trafficking for pedophilia, forced marriage, human organ trade and surrogacy all of which are against human dignity and rights especially women and girl children.
We believe that we should share the same responsibility to make the world a better place not only as a follower of Catholic church but as a citizen of the global village. The key to ensure human security for the poor and the marginalized in many countries in Asia as well as Latin America and Africa, and integral ecology is collaborative governance with various civil societies including diverse religions and Faith-Based Organizations (FBO).
We, thus, call upon all governments, members, and organizations of civil society, and citizens to recognize our co-responsibility towards a sustainable development that is the Earth-centric and non-violent attitude and simple lifestyle based on egalitarianism with nature. It is, therefore, urgently needed for all of us to commit to do the necessary things for the protection and rights of the disadvantaged and Mother Earth.
We demand to break the culture of silence existing among us. We invite all citizens to join us in this quest to create “earth jurisprudence”, commit ourselves for protecting forests and other natural resources, foster peace and inter-religious dialogue not only based on religious identity or teachings but also “global citizenship”, and practice gender equality and the inclusion of women in all sectors.