Blessed are the poor

9 03 2009

Sarah Broscombe, a participant in the Fé’namazônia Pre-Forum and World Social Forum (WSF) in Belém do Pará, wrote an article for the Thinking Faith’s Lenten Series about her reflection on poverty, not only the material one, from a Christian point of view. Her reflection is nourished by the experience lived at the Pre-Forum and the WSF.

Click here to read the article at www.thinkingfaith.org.

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Ecología y compromiso social

1 02 2009

de Carlos Quintana SJ

Soy Carlos Quintana, jesuita peruano, estudiante de teología en la Facultad de Belo Horizonte, Brasil. Me he formado en Ciencias Biológicas.

Me interesó participar tanto del Pre-foro como del FSM precisamente por mi experiencia de contacto con movimientos preocupados por temas sociales y con espíritu de cambio. En ese sentido fue fundamental comprender, dentro de la propuesta del Pre-foro, la relación entre los problemas sociales que enfrentan las comunidades de la Amazonía, sobre todo los indígenas con el compromiso que brota de la fe. Fe encarnada en diferentes contextos, culturas y pueblos que desafía a un compromiso social ante la preocupación por la tierra, el agua, la dignidad de las personas, el cuidado por la vida, el respeto por la naturaleza.

Continuando en esa línea, las conferencias del FSM de mi interés están relacionadas con el deseo que tengo de actualizarme en el debate que se presenta sobre ecología, desarrollo sostenible, cuidado de los recursos naturales y el compromiso social. Me ha enriquecido el conocer diversas experiencias tanto de institutos, universidades, ONGs y comunidades campesinas y vecinales referente a la reflexión, compromiso, sensibilización y acción ante los problemas ecológicos que enfrentamos; sobre todo me ayudan las sugerencias para viabilizar soluciones posibles en este campo de estudio y acción.





Enviado a la “frontera”, junto al pueblo de Afganistán

31 01 2009

de Mauricio Burbano SJ (Ecuador/ Brasil)

Jimmy Dabhi SJ

Jimmy Dabhi SJ

James Dabhi es un jesuita indio que nació en Gujarat y trabaja en Afganistán como parte del equipo del Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados. Mientras almorzamos, me habla en lenguaje inglés sobre su presencia en Afganistán, pero también me habla en el lenguaje universal del corazón, de tal modo que logro sentir su pasión por ver un mundo más humano en donde no importen los credos ni afiliaciones religiosas. El trabajo en Afganistán es complejo ya que no se trata de una población uniforme. En Afganistán se encuentran diferencias étnicas en un contexto musulmán.

Pregunto cómo siente su fe cristiana en ese contexto difícil. Me aclara con energía que hay que distinguir entre espiritualidad y religión. James no lleva una bandera proselitista religiosa ni pretende forzar a las personas a creer en Dios al modo cristiano. Jesús no se presentó como un héroe que busca reconocimiento, sino que se presentó como alguien profundamente humano. Más que insistir en la fe “en” Jesús, deberíamos insistir en la fe “de” Jesús. La fe de Jesús se transparentaba en lo que creía y defendía apasionadamente: el amor, la compasión y la justicia. Entonces, no hay que defender ideas o teorías sobre Dios, sino más bien hay que participar de la vida de la gente a quienes servimos, actuando con amor, compasión y justicia.





A voice from British Guyana

30 01 2009

by Paul Marin SJ

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My name is Paul Martin. I was born in Liverpool, England, and entered the Jesuits there in 1984. I first came to Guyana, in South America in 1989 to do my Regency. After 4 challenging but very happy years of theology in Brazil I returned to Guyana in 1995 to begin working with the indigenous people there. This is the work I have been engaged in up to now.

Just as the indigenous people of the world are a small and often poorly understood group within the modern globalised world, so Jesuits that work with them are small in number and often encounter difficulties explaining, even to fellow Jesuits, the point of this work. I was delighted to accept the suggestion of my Regional Superior to attend the World Social Forum and the Pre-Forum organised by the Amazonian Region of the Society. This was an excellent opportunity to renew contact with others who are engaged in similar work to myself and at the same time to meet many whose work is very different yet whose desire to see a world in which all have access to the necessities of life is the same.

The atmosphere both at the Pre-Forum and the Forum itself has been one of joyful celebration of life built on a sincere desire to act justly, valuing the unique contribution of each individual. As Frei Betto put it so well, Christian faith is a call to share in the faith of Jesus; to understand ourselves and our lives in the light of our relationship with the Father and to allow this understanding to determine the way we act.

If I were to offer one criticism it would be to say that in emphasising the call to share the faith OF Jesus and act as he acted we cannot ignore the cross. If we wish to model our lives on the life of Jesus we need to hear his warning that “anyone who wants to be a follower of mine, must take up his cross and follow me.” Just as those who held power at the time of Jesus chose to use that power to silence him, so those who hold power in today’s world will use that power to silence the voice of those who call for a different world. Christians must therefore also have faith IN Christ. That is to say we are called to believe that the cross is not the final word. Rather Christ who was crucified is Risen. He does not rise to prove his enemies wrong – if that were the case we would be reading of his appearances to Pilate, to Caiaphas, to those who called on him to come down from the cross. Rather he rises to prove his friends right – to confirm those who followed him in the faith that they shared with him.

The new world begins not when the powerful are overthrown but when those that they seek to dominate no longer allow fear to control their lives but live in the freedom of the children of God. That is a different world that in one sense is already here and in another will always be a dream for tomorrow.

The World Social Forum could so easily become either a protest rally dominated by passionate speeches denouncing the evils of the world – or a carnival in which people for a while forget the harsh realities of life in a wild party of music and dance. Yet, in the spirit of the Pre-Forum it could also be a joyful celebration of how the world could be with a commitment to the struggle that it will take to make it so.





We share a common present

26 01 2009

Interview with Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

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Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

The sessions began today with a few words to remember the celebration of Republic Day of India. We joined this celebration by presenting today a conversation with Xavier Jeyaraj, the Coordinator of the social apostolate in South Asia. He has led to Belem and the Pre-Forum a delegation of 29 persons, men and women from different parts of India. The group has already made an impact among all participants and has worked hard to prepare the presentation of an experience describing the situation of tribals and Dalits in India. It is not easy to catch Xavier even for a short interview. His spare time, as he acknowledges, is taken now by the preparation of a shared public session at the World Social Forum with the group of indigenous people from the Amazonia. They want to show that globalization has brought the same havoc to dalits and tribals in India as well as to the indigenous communities of the Amazon region. Between one sandwich and a cup of tea, I asked him whether, two days in Belem, he was satisfied.

After talking to some members of the delegation, Xavier feels quite happy especially on this second day. Many acknowledged that they were struck by seeing other people like them fighting for land; by realizing that other men and women have also been displaced from their homes and lands by the same type of forces, even though they may have different faces. This has helped in the realization that they are not alone, that the issues they face have a global character, and that they are not an exception or an unfortunate accident. Many in the Indian group have been touched, Xavier confessed, by the way other groups have talked about the role faith plays in their lives, Faith seems to have been a strong force to sustain their lives and struggles. This ‘faith’ element acquires for some of the Indian members of the delegation, a new relevance and dimension; they have, quite often, seen their own lives as a continuous and somewhat barren and dead struggle against external and even internal odds. Language is a barrier for many in the group, but tribal and dalit women have been able to touch and embrace women from other parts of the world to communicate and receive love, concern and understanding. They know they are not alone, and they know they have hope in a new future.

 SAPI delegation at Pre-Forum

SAPI delegation at Pre-Forum