The Social Problem is Now Global and Interdependent

By Fr. Desmond De’Sousa CSsR

International Disproportions: A number of countries have a gross disproportion between land and population. In some countries arable land abounds, but there is a scarcity of population; whereas in other countries the position is reversed: the population is large, arable land scarce.

Surpluses and Scarcities: Again, some countries use primitive methods of agriculture, with the result that, for all their abundance of natural resources, they are not able to produce enough food to feed their population; whereas other countries, using modern methods of agriculture, produce a surplus of food which has an adverse effect on the economy.

Solidarity: It is therefore obvious that the solidarity of the human race and Christian brotherhood demand the elimination as far as possible of these discrepancies. With this object in view, people all over the world must co-operate actively with one another in all sorts of ways, so as to facilitate the movement of goods, capital and men from one country to another. We shall have more to say on this point later on.

Obligation of the Wealthy Nations: Probably the most difficult problem today concerns the relationship between political communities that are economically advanced and those in the process of development. Whereas the standard of living is high in the former, the latter are subject to extreme poverty. The solidarity which binds all men together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.

Social Issue in America – World Atlas

International Aid: Justice and humanity demand that those countries which produce consumer goods, especially farm products, in excess of their own needs should come to the assistance of those other countries where large sections of the population are suffering from want and hunger. It is nothing less than an outrage to justice and humanity to destroy or to squander goods that other people need for their very lives.

We are, of course, well aware that overproduction, especially in agriculture, can cause economic harm to a certain section of the population. But it does not follow that one is thereby exonerated from extending emergency aid to those who need it. On the contrary, everything must be done to minimize the ill effects of overproduction, and to spread the burden equitably over the entire population.

Scientific, Technical and Financial Co-operation: Of itself, however, emergency aid will not go far in relieving want and famine when these are caused—as they so often are—by the primitive state of a nation’s economy. The only permanent remedy for this is to make use of every possible means of providing these citizens with the scientific, technical and professional training they need, and to put at their disposal the necessary capital for speeding up their economic development with the help of modern methods.

We are aware how deeply the public conscience has been affected in recent years by the urgent need of supporting the economic development and social progress of those countries which are still struggling against poverty and economic disabilities.

International and regional organizations, national and private societies, all are working towards this goal, increasing day to day the measure of their own technical co-operation in all productive spheres.

Some Additional Counsels

In the first place, those nations which are still only at the beginning of their journey along the road to economic development would do well to consider carefully the experiences of the wealthier nations which have traversed this road before them.

The developing nations, obviously, have certain unmistakable characteristics of their own, resulting from the nature of the particular region and the natural dispositions of their citizens, with their time-honored traditions and customs.170. In helping these nations, therefore, the more advanced communities must recognize and respect this individuality. They must beware of making the assistance they give an excuse for forcing these people into their own national mold.

Offering Disinterested Aid: There is also a further temptation which the economically developed nations must resist: that of giving technical and financial aid with a view to gaining control over the political situation in the poorer countries, and furthering their own plans for world domination.

Social Problem

Let us be quite clear on this point. A nation that acted from these motives would in fact be introducing a new form of colonialism—cleverly disguised, no doubt, but actually reflecting that older, outdated type from which many nations have recently emerged. Such action would, moreover, have harmful impact on international relations, and constitute a menace to world peace.

Necessity, therefore, and justice demand that all such technical and financial aid be given without thought of domination, but rather for the purpose of helping the less developed nations to achieve their own economic and social growth. If this can be achieved, then a precious contribution will have been made to the formation of a world community, in which each individual nation, conscious of its rights and duties, can work on terms of equality with the rest for the attainment of universal prosperity.

Respecting the True Hierarchy of Values

Scientific and technical progress, economic development and the betterment of living conditions, are certainly valuable elements in a civilization. But they are essentially instrumental in character. They are not supreme values in themselves. There is a complete indifference to the true hierarchy of values shown by so many people in the economically developed countries.

Spiritual values are ignored, forgotten or denied, while the progress of science, technology and economics is pursued for its own sake, as though material well-being were the be-all and end-all of life. This attitude is contagious, especially when it infects the work that is being done for the less developed countries, which have often preserved in their ancient traditions an acute and vital awareness of the more important human values, on which the moral order rests.

To attempt to undermine this national integrity is clearly immoral. It must be respected and as far as possible clarified and developed, so that it may remain what it is: a foundation of true civilization.

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

By Eliza Halim

Our beloved country Indonesia is currently facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Confirmed cases are increasing every day. This requires adequate health facilities, but hospitals in Indonesia are full of Covid-19 patients. This makes the government take various ways to overcome this problem. The government created  emergency or field hospitals for Covid-19. The first emergency hospital to operate was Wisma Atlet (Athlete’s House) Kemayoran. Apart from Wisma Athletes, several emergency hospitals were also prepared. Starting from the central government, local government and assistance from the private sector. The Athletes’ House was adapted in only four days to become a Covid-19 Emergency Hospital[3].

Even though it was built briefly, the Athlete’s House has all the adequate quality and facilities. In addition, 25 state owned companies supply medical equipment for this emergency hospital.

With the second wave of covid 19 (May 2021) the Indonesian government is using several more places such as the Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory which began operating on July 10, 2021 to receive a booming Covid-19 patients, which according to some sources the number has now jumped to 10x in DKI and 5x in Bali [4]

We see this in our country, Indonesia, how about the situation in other countries? The New York Times and reported by AFP, Tuesday (7/4/2020): A large cathedral in New York, United States was converted to become an emergency hospital during the corona virus pandemic. The move comes as the state struggles with a crisis that has killed thousands of people.[2]

The Pope’s offer to see the Church as a field or emergency hospital actually loosens rigid institutional ecclesiastical barriers, so that they can resonate with people living today [1]

This unusual picture of the church actually offers a new and fresh perspective on the Church. There are at least four new perspectives that Pope Francis offers through the new ecclesiology [1]

First, the Church as an emergency hospital shows the aspect of flexibility to move true to its name emphasizing mobility. The second shows that the Church must be among the wounded. Three, that the visible churches need to reveal its identity so that it can be easily found by those who are suffering. Fourth, to empower citizens. The emergency hospital is a kind of pit stop, a temporary stop so that the injured can be treated, but after receiving adequate treatment, they will resume their struggle in solidarity with many survivors who share the same direction of struggle. This means that the ultimate goal of service is empowerment.[1]

Even though Pope Francis has made this appeal since September 30, 2013 in an interview with Antonio Spadaro, it is still very relevant to the current situation where the second Covid-19 pandemic is occurring in Indonesia. This vision was emphasized by Pope Francis in the Evangelii Gaudium document. He said, “A community that evangelizes engages with the words and actions of people’s everyday lives. This community bridges the distance, is willing to serve itself if necessary, and embraces human life, by touching the humanity of Christ who suffers in each other” (EG 24). A louder phrase emerges in this passage, “I prefer a church that is bruised, hurt and dirty because it has been out on the streets than a church that is sick of shutting itself in and comfortable clinging to its own security. I don’t want an ambitious Church to be at the center and end up caught in the trap of obsessions and procedures” (EG 49).

The church that is mentioned here is that we are all faithful Catholics, who are expected in a situation like this, to be among people who are suffering and in need of our help. We must not just focus on our personal affairs, but we also have to look at the situation around us, what we can do to help those who are suffering, especially the people who live below the poverty line.

Within our Catholic community there is no cooperation in helping and easing the burden of residents suffering from Covid-19, both Catholics and non-Catholics. We who are able to work together to collect funds to be donated to people in need and those who live around us, need to be provided with support and prayers to the sufferers. We must be steadfast, patient and surrender all our life problems to Jesus our Savior.

There are also Catholics in our neighborhood, who go around giving rice wraps in markets for the poor, and there are also Catholics who go around providing food and dry goods such as biscuits and other essentials as well as money to “ manusia gerobak” (a poor family who lives in a carriage).

Hopefully the Covid-19 pandemic will end soon so that the life of in Indonesian returns to normal and we all can live normally as before the pandemic.

Sources:

[1]5221_bambang_rohani__05_66_2019

[2]news.detik.com.internasional.internasional

[3]Republika.co.id/berita/qqf51n456/

[4]merdeka.com/peristiwa/satgas-sebut-kasus-aktif-covid-di-jakarta-naik-10-kali-lipat-sejak-18-mei-2021.html

Integral Spirituality

Integral Spirituality

By Michael Amaladoss, S.J.

The phrase integral spirituality seems problematic. The term ‘integral’ evokes a holistic perspective. But the term ‘spiritual’ already restricts this holism by excluding matter and the body. It may also imply a system of thought or a dimension of reality. The Eastern religious traditions would refer to this area of experience or reflection as a WAY to an Absolute or Transcendent goal. Buddhism presents Nirvana as the goal to be pursued and it suggests the eightfold path as a way of pursuing it. Hinduism speaks of Self realization, the Self itself being the Real itself. Realization is achieved through four margas or ways: Jnana (wisdom), Bhakti (devotion), Karma (right action) and Yoga (psycho-physical discipline) that involves the whole person. The TAO is the dynamic way of reality itself, to which one has to conform.

So let me speak of the Way rather than of spirituality. I am also taking for granted that I have to speak here of the Christian way, though today, in Asia and in the world, it has to be in dialogue with other religious ways, precisely in order to become integral.

Our Goal

The way obviously supposes a goal. What is the goal of the Christian way? The New Testament presents it to us through many symbols. Let me evoke some of them. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, speaks of the mystery that God has revealed to us in Chirst “as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph 1:10) In his letter to the Colossians the focus is more on Christ, who is the image of the invisible of God and the firstborn of all creation, through whom and for whom all things have been created and who is the fullness of God. “Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.” (Col 1:15-20)

His letter to the Corinthians, which is an earlier text, the focus is rather God – the Father. Christ brings all things together and offers them to God so that “God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:28) In his letter to the Romans, it is the Spirit of freedom who makes all of us joint heirs with Christ so that we can call God ‘Abba’ and “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:15, 21) Here we have four versions of the same image of God gathering all things together. The whole cosmos is involved, the humans as well as creation.

John in the book of Revelation seems to reflect this image. He starts with the picture of a human community: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his people.” (Rev21:3) But then he opens up to become more inclusive: “See, I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:5) In his gospel, he makes up in depth what he may lack in breadth. On the last day of his life, Jesus prays: “That they may all be one. As you, Father are in me and | am in you, may they also be in us.” (Jn 17:21) The Synoptics speak of the Kingdom of God, though its cosmic and holistic outreach is not as clear as in the texts above.

They seem to be much more sensitive to the ongoing struggle between the good and the bad, God and Mammon. But a universal vision is not absent. Before going up to heaven Jesus tells his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Mt 28:18-19) If I were an exegete I would take these passages one by one and analyzed them in detail and highlight the vision that they propose to us. But even a simple reading of these texts shows us that God’s plan is to gather all things together. This is, obviously, also our goal — the goal of everyone and everything. Our way must lead us towards this goal.

Harmony with the Other Humans

A spirit of individualism, egged on by ignorance, desire and egoism, is bound to clash with others. It will become competitive and acquisitive, seeing the others as enemies, seeking to deprive them of what is their due (injustice) and to dominate and instrumentalize them (inequality). One forgets one’s duties and denies the rights of others. Such an attitude will, obviously, lead to conflict. Egoism can often also be collective in the name of a religious, caste, ethnic or national identity. In such a situation harmony can be established only when one thinks, not only of rights, but also of duties and responsibilities; not only of the rights of individuals but also of cultural, social and religious communities. The context of such attitudes will be solidarity and subsidiarity. I do not think that I need to explain these concepts here. Injustice can become structural enduring through history and leading to hidden or open conflict. At that stage an option for the poor and the oppressed may be necessary. This very option for the poor may lead us, not only to challenge the rich to conversion, but also reach out to the non-poor change-makers like the intellectuals, leaders of social movements, activists and even the enlightened rich.

Christianity has not spoken much about harmony with creation and with the body. It does insist on harmony with the self. In recent times it has also insisted on harmony with others. Jesus himself has focused a lot on these two dimensions. While the Sermon on the Mount is a good example of attitudes that everyone needs (Mt 5-7) — I would highlight poverty of spirit and the love of enemies — John’s description of the last day in Jesus’ life evokes a social dimension. (Jn 13-17)

Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) He exemplifies this love for others in humble service of the others, washing their feet, in sharing food with them and in total self gift, offering his own life for them. (cf.Jn 15:13) Starting with these indications of Jesus we can work out a way of relating to the others according to his way. Structural ways of doing this may change according to context and history. But the directions are clear.

Webinar The Military Coup and People’s Uprising in Myanmar, and How Asian Religions can Support & Promote Solidarity Interreligiously

An Urgent Webinar:
The Military Coup and People’s Uprising in Myanmar, and How Asian Religions can Support and Promote Solidarity interreligiously?

On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar’s military staged a coup that detained several high-ranking government officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on the same day. General Min Aung Hlaing refused to recognize the election results held on the 8th of November, 2020, calling it a fraudulent election and took power hours before the new National Assembly opened and declared a state of national emergency.

Myanmar, which had been ruled by the military regime for a long time had transferred its military power to a civilian regime through elections in 2015. The country which had just begun to take a step towards democracy is now in danger of returning to a military dictatorship once again. In response, Myanmar’s people have taken to the streets again despite the horrible and harrowing memory of thousands of people massacred in the “8888 Uprising,” which was a huge resistance against the military rule on the 8th of August, 1988. More than a month into the present coup, the situation in Myanmar is getting worse, with the number of deaths and injuries increasing as the military crackdown intensifies.

In Myanmar, where the majority of the people are Buddhists, the Catholic Church, being a minority religion, lacks a strong influence; but earnestly hopes for solidarity of Catholic churches in Asia and the world for that matter.

Therefore, Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum, NCCP in Philippines, and RTRC in Thailand are jointly organizing an immediate online webinar to consider how we as followers of religions together can support and have solidarity with the Myanmar people. For this webinar we will invite two actors; one is a well-known Buddhist activist monk from Myanmar and a Diocesan Priest from Thailand situated near the Myanmar border to share vivid stories about the current situation there and discuss how peace-loving religions in Asia could unite and support.

Schedule: March 26, 2021 (Friday) 7:00-9:00 pm Philippine time
● Flow:

  1. Presentation by both the Presenters
  2. Discussion – after presentations by both the Presenters the talk is open for the online participants.
  3. Audience in online zoom and in real-time YouTube broadcasting if possible.

● Presenters:

  1. “Military coup and Buddhist response – more solidarity is needed!” -Ven. Bhikkhu Mandalar Zan / mandalarzan@gmail.com
  2. Religious response to the military coup in Myanmar-Ko Htwe/ Project Manager of Lay Mission Institute, Myanmer

● Discussion Panel:

  1. Ms. Norma Gonos / Director of Apo Governance and Indigenous Leadership Academy, Philippines
  2. Rev. Irma Mepico / Assistant Program Coordinator of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations
    (CUER) -NCCP, Philippines
  3. Prof. Francis Lee / Executive director of JusPeace, Korea
  4. Fr. Vinai Boonlue, SJ/ Head of Euro Burma Office Foundation

Jointly Organized by ALL Forum, NCCP, RTRC

Join this webinar

Solidarity With the Students and civilian leaders of Myanmar

Solidarity With the Students and civilian leaders of Myanmar

Solidarity Statement by International Teams of IMCS Pax Romana and ICMICA Pax Romana

It is with a great sense of duty and concern that we the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and the International Movement of Catholic Students condemn in strongest terms the recent attacks on due process, justice and democracy in Myanmar.

Eleven years ago, the nation moved from military rule to democracy after ruling the country for decades. On early hours of Monday, 1st February, 2021 the military organized coup took place and the elected leaders of the people, especially the top echelon of the NLD leadership have been arrested and Aung San Suu Kyi taken to unknown locations for detention, under unsubstantiated charge of the violation of the country’s import-export laws.

It is important to alert the military that the world is watching most especially the young people of Myanmar whose future and destiny they are toying with.

We strongly advocate for a round table dialogue between the military high ranking officials, led by the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, and the Civilian Leaders, to return power to the civilian leaders and call on the Civilian Leaders to address the concerns of the military if any.

We appeal to the students, youth and women of Myanmar to maintain peace and harmony as their plight is a global concern and we won’t rest until normalcy returns to Myanmar.

We call on the international community to intervene in this constitutional violation of the rights of democratically elected leaders so that participatory democracy is returned to the people of Myanmar.

Sign:
International Teams of IMCS Pax Romana and ICMICA Pax Romana



Action Amidst The Pandemic

Action Amidst The Pandemic

Summary of activities by Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement
(BCSM)

Since December 2019, the world has been struck massively by the destructive COVID 19 viruses. This virus has been so deadly that the whole world has stand still in the last year. All the countries in the world have been more or less affected by the virus. Bangladesh has been victim to its grasp as well. The first COVID 19 patient was found on 8th March 2020, in Bangladesh. After that the situation got worse and the country fell under a lock down state.

Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement, commonly known as BCSM, also fell victim to the pandemic. The movement activities started to lose its pace. Even though the members were all willing to support during this crisis moment, the condition was not favorable. Falling to the effects of the Pandemic condition, the members thought on helping the people in need and also to keep the movement activities going on. To accelerate the working of the movement, many former members came into support as well.

The members of Khulna BCSM first took the initiative to support the families in distress. They gathered some financial aid from the local community and bought some regular household commodities like rice, pulse, soap, potato, onion etc. for the people in need. They distributed the support to more than 3500 people in the time period between April to August 2020. Inspired by the action of Khulna BCSM, other Diocesan BCSM Teams worked in their locality by supporting the people in need. All together more than 10000 people were supported by BCSM directly or indirectly during this pandemic time.

Also, it is worth mentioning here that, BCSM not only worked for the distressed people, but also worked for Mother Nature as well. Responding to the Call of the Holy Papa, Pope Francis, BCSM wanted to take more active part than before in care for the common home. During the onset of monsoon season BCSM planted more than 5000 trees in different parts of the country. Also, this activity is going to be a continuous process from now on. This initiative by BCSM was supported by many local people and thus the nature loving mentality among people has been boosted.
Besides this, meetings were held online and thus the activities of the movement was still on the run. Online photography competition on the World Environment Day 2020 was held for the BCSM members. The competition covered the sectors of Nature, human and humanity and 3Rs.

An Online Christian Leadership and Capacity Building Training was held via zoom app from 6 to 8 September 2020. The training was conducted by Caritas development institute. 45 participants from all over the country took part in this training.

Besides, an online Magazine and online newsletter was published prior to the activities conducted by the team.
Even though the pandemic has made the world slower than ever, BCSM had run its activities quite smoothly online. But we hope, this condition won’t prevail and we all will be able to see each other once again enjoying the company of all. Hoping to have better days in the upcoming future in a COVID 19 free world.


Beyond the Reasonable Announcement of the Good News

Beyond the Reasonable Announcement of the Good News—is Fraternity in Solidarity Represented by our Closeness to the Poor

by Rafael Velasco, S.J.

It was this way at the beginning, as many saints, theologians, and martyrs have reminded us. One of the consequences of our faith in the Incarnation is the place from which theology is made. If God incarnated, nothing human is alien to him. And if God incarnated among the poor, living in the margins, the action of the church and its theology cannot be neutral. We cannot be neutral before injustice. If God was made flesh in the margins of history, we must read history from that place. God does not see history from above, but from the margins, from those who suffer exclusion, those who are often absent in the official liturgy, those who feel they are sinners and needy, those who have no access to central power. From that place the gospel is read differently.

The theological question: “Who is God?” is inseparable from the ethical question: “What to do?” (“What have you done with your brother?”) If the first question takes us to the God announced by Jesus of Nazareth, Father of all, the God of Life who establishes in Jesus a Kingdom of Justice in which the poor come first, the answer to “What to do?” also has consequences. A theology that tries to assume as central the category of fraternity must have at its center the poorer and more vulnerable brothers and sisters. From our faith in the Incarnation it is impossible to think theology decontextualized; we must think and do it historically rooted in reality. And reality in Latin America is still strongly marked by exclusion and poverty. To make theology from this reality implies adopting a perspective from the poor: from the poor person’s life while committed and in dialogue with other types of knowledge.

In Latin America—our context—life is menaced by exclusion, violence, and poverty. This means lack of access to health services, decent housing, justice, drinkable water, and human rights. Theology in Latin America would then imply to think life from the reality that the poor suffer. It will mean to make theology from the reverse of history written by victors, but from the defeated ones, from those who cannot get quality education, those who see their green spaces transformed into a dump. Why is this so? Because they are poor and they only count at election times.

We must reflect from those who are not the main characters and so are not present in headlines. It will also mean to make theology from the outskirts of society: where the victims live, those whose faces show the “suffering features of Christ, the Lord” as the Puebla Document states.1

It then means to make theology from the suffering majority since most of the population in Latin America is poor and suffers. The love of God here and now should be called liberation, commitment to the transformation of reality. The Kingdom of God, which is grace, historically begins when we share our bread. This theology of sharing, of incarnated fraternity, should have a prophetic character. It needs to call it somehow, because it should disturb, ask uncomfortable questions, and look for the necessary answers and commit to them. A theology that goes beyond dogmatic and notional elaborations, that goes beyond the question of “How can we be good in society?” to wonder about “How can we be good at making this society good?”

A theology that helps us live more humanly in this world, that encourages us to make the world more human, that aspires to something more than good behaviour, must in some way be spiritual wisdom rationally articulated. Wisdom that helps us live with taste and sense. Wisdom related to our own daily life. Such a theology emerges from the New Commandment the Lord left us. It is about that commandment lived in fraternity that Chiara Lubich beautifully says: “When it is radically lived, it generates unity and brings with itself an extraordinary consequence: Jesus, the Resurrected one, is present among us.”2

Ref:
Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2 (October 2013) 77–81 © 2013 The Church, Dialogue, and Fraternity Doing Theology from the Place of the Poor

  1. Puebla Document, August 6, 1979, no. 31.
  2. ZENIT Interview with Chiara Lubich.