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.

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Le conclusioni del Pre-Forum

30 01 2009

di Sergio Sala SJ

Il 27 gennaio si è concluso il Pre-Forum della famiglia ignaziana con la presentazione delle proposte elaborate dai gruppi tematici da portare al Forum e in seguito ai propri luoghi d´origine. La presentazione è stata seguito da un dibattito molto interessante e partecipato, che ha arricchito di ulteriori intuizioni e proposte il lavoro già molto buono fatto nei gruppi.

Presentazione delle proposte

Presentazione delle proposte

Infatti, i sei gruppi di discussione tematica (pace e riconciliazione, diritti umani, impegno politico, fede e futuro delle culture amazzoniche, problemi ambientali, religioni-chiese-movimenti) hanno elaborato varie idee. Tutti rilevano l´importanza del lavoro in rete, ma dato che ormai le reti non mancano, si tratta di razionalizzare il lavoro per non creare doppioni e riuscire ad informare il maggiore numero possibile di persone. Per fare questo servono persone competenti nel campo dell’informazione in modo che non rimanga nascosto tra le pagine di internet o in pubblicazioni non lette. Riteniamo importante far circolare soprattutto le esperienze di successo e le iniziative riuscite in modo che possano essere di modello in altre parti del mondo.

Avvertiamo il bisogno di farci sentire a livello di politiche pubbliche: molti problemi si possono migliorare con leggi e delibere appropriate. Ma per farle approvare chiedere non è sufficiente, servono gruppi di pressioni civile e sociale, servono esperti di diritto che li aiutino a proporre normative di qualità. Nell’immediato chiediamo di fermare la deforestazione dell’Amazzonia, proseguendo l’esperienza del pacchetto di misure a tutto campo (repressive, tecnologiche, fiscali…) che ha iniziato a dare buoni risultati, e di fermare anche il passaggio dei rifiuti dai paesi ricchi a quelli poveri. Allo stesso tempo siamo ben coscienti che non possiamo pretendere decisioni ad alti livelli se nel nostro quotidiano non cambiamo lo stile di vita: come possiamo chiedere la gestione intelligente dei rifiuti se non organizziamo la nostra raccolta differenziata? Come possiamo pretendere che non si taglino gli alberi se il nostro stile di vita troppo alto rende necessario lo sfruttamento ambientale?

La formazione va modificata in difesa dell’ambiente, dai più piccoli ai più grandi e in ogni parte del mondo.

Un momento del dibattito

Un momento del dibattito

Anche la formazione dei religiosi e dei seminaristi deve essere reimpostata in tal senso. Va aumentata la collaborazione e interazione tra le università e la ricca tradizione indigena. In fondo  si sogna la creazione di una nuova università di studi amazzonici, con persone specializzate in ogni settore: qui si formeranno esperti di bio-economia, bio-chimica, bio-agricoltura e di tutte le altre specialità legate alla tutela dell’ambiente. Queste nuove forme di sapere devono però superare un certo elitismo culturale: chi riflette sui temi ha bisogno di dati che provengono dalla base e chi lavora nel campo ha bisogno della riflessione di chi fa ricerca in modo da aprire i propri orizzonti. In questa prospettiva va potenziato il lavoro dell’equipe itinerante, con un nuovo approccio che parta dalle necessità degli indigeni, con un occhio di riguardo a donne e giovani.

Come chiesa riteniamo necessario coltivare una spiritualità legata alla terra, all’acqua, all’ambiente, che illumini il nostro lavoro e la nostra riflessione. Bisogna inoltre iniziare a parlare di pastorale ambientale, da non considerarsi un catechismo a parte, ma una pastorale integrata con quelle già esistenti. Intrigante l’idea di proporre all’organizzazione generale del FSM la promozione di un Forum tematico su religione-giustizia-trasformazione sociale, a cui partecipino esponenti di ogni religione e credo: la pace nel mondo non può prescindere dal dialogo interreligioso.





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





Spirituality for today

26 01 2009

by Frank Turner SJ

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Frei  Betto (Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo OP) is a well-known writer and social activist, an adviser to the President of Brazil on the Zero Hunger programme.

Frei Betto (foto de Anselmo Dias SJ)

Frei Betto (foto de Anselmo Dias SJ)

He began his presentation by considering “inner ecology”, the practice of compassionate self-awareness: ‘caress your heart’; ask if your sense of humour is intoxicated with anger and arrogance, whether your gestures are aggressive and ‘poisoned’; consider whether you seek tolerance and forgiveness without sacrificing justice and respect for life, whether you treat everyone as an equal, whether they be ‘devoured by misery’ or lost in the illusion of nobility. This awareness is crucial, since we always bring ourselves to our social struggles.

As others have done in these days, he proposed that we are living through a change of epoch. As the hegemony of the Church gave way to that of reason (where “reason” could be narrowed to Cartesian rationalism) and a theocentric paradigm to an anthropocentric paradigm, we are at the point of moving to a paradigm that can be called “holistic”. For both science and spirituality disallow the previously reflex opposition of ‘mind’ and ‘matter’, the ‘human being’ and some inanimate ‘nature’. In the whole of divine creation there is a convergence, a synergy, a unity that is fully to be realized. Similarly we can now, once again, understand the vision of Meister Eckhart, that to come close to God is also to come closer to ourselves, just as in the depths of ourselves we find God, who is indeed in all things and people (panentheism). Science now discloses that we humans are not above nature but part of nature. In an equivalent way, we should realize more deeply that spirituality is not an escape from life (the too familiar images of autumn leaves, sunsets, that are so far from the daily realities of the lives of so many who suffer) but is found in the heart of life as its fullness. The spiritual journey of Jesus has nothing to do with the contemplation of nature at its most tranquil, but is a path of struggle. The infancy narratives themselves direct us firmly to his Crucifixion as the victim of two political powers.  So what kind of faith in Jesus is not political?

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Frei Betto noted that the question, “What must I do to attain eternal life?” is always the question posed by the privileged or prosperous insider: by Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, the doctor of the Law. Jesus refuses to offer any version of eternal life as an added extra. The question of the poor, that draws his full response is “What must I do to have life here and now?”. It may be a leper, or Bartimaeus or the Canaanite woman. To this, Jesus responds by offering more abundant life. The fullness of Christian life is fully human life: we are not made human by faith in Jesus as such but by sharing the faith of Jesus.

In  this way, Frei Betto integrated his inner ecology (the peace we must bring to our struggle so as not simply to spread our own disaffection), with the challenge that our struggle is valid only as an expression of the conflict with those forces of destruction that threaten the lives of the poor, the conflict that forms a central motif of the Gospels. For this hearer, his argument may best be summarized in the promise of the Fourth Gospel: “I leave you peace, but not peace as the world gives it. In the world you will have trouble. But fear not, I have conquered the world”.





The Pre-Forum has started!

25 01 2009
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We are on time and we are on track. The official ceremony to start the Pre-Forum Fé’namazônia full of life and colour took place on Saturday, 24 January. Two people who were there, Ghislain Tshikendwa Matadi SJ from Africa and Sergio S. Sala SJ from Europe (who lives in Brazil), tell us of the joy and festivity of the initial ceremony.

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French

En marge du Forum Social Mondial qui aura lieu à Belem au Brésil (27 janvier -1er février 2009), la famille ignatienne a prévu de se rencontrer du 24 au 27 janvier 2009. C’est donc dans l’après-midi du samedi 24 janvier que le pré-forum a commencé dans l’enceinte du Grand Séminaire Pie X. Le thème général en était : « Foi religieuse et défense de la vie ». L’assistance d’Afrique et Madagascar y a été représentée par une délégation de sept personnes.

J’ai aimé la joie et la fraternité qui ont caractérisé l’ouverture du pré-forum. Tout s’est passé dans la simplicité, la concorde et la joie. Je revois encore le sourire des participants venus du monde entier : Asie, Europe, Amérique, Afrique, océanie. Ce fut le temps des retrouvailles pour les uns et de nouvelles connaissances pour les autres. On pouvait voir les gens prendre les photos et se saluer fraternellement.

Un petit orchestre a agrémenté la soirée. Les participants ont spontanément envahi la piste, montrant ainsi que la diversité est une richesse à exploiter pour construire un monde où règnent la justice et la paix.   Le mot d’ordre que la délégation africaine a choisi est éloquent : « Un leadership fort pour nourrir les nouvelles espérances en vue de la paix et de l’unité ».

Oui ! J’ai retrouvé la joie et la spontanéité africaines! Que de ce genre de rencontres naisse réellement un monde de justice et de paix ! Un autre monde est possible ! A nous tous d’y travailler, dans l’unité et la concorde.

(Ghislain Matadi SJ, Coordinateur de l’Apostolat Social d’Afrique et Madagascar)

Italian

125 partecipanti al Pre-Forum provengono da 30 paesi d’ogni parte del mondo. Costituiscono una comunità  variopinta e molto eterogenea ma unita da un pensiero comune: un altro mondo è possibile.

Oggi c´e stato il primo momento d’incontro e conoscenza. Le presentazioni per zone geografiche, pur brevi e preparate in pochi minuti, sono state indicative del clima che si respira nel proprio luogo d’origine. I delegati africani vogliono unità  e pace; gli europei sperano che il vecchio continente sia più accogliente e integrato; gli indiani chiedono terra e vita per ogni popolo e razza; i latino-americani sollevano il problema dell’acqua, simbolo di vita che unifica tutti i paesi; i brasiliani, ospiti dell’evento, sottolineano le disuguaglianze ancora presenti in questo pur ricchissimo paese.

Una nota d’attenzione va data ai numerosi indiani, presentatisi con l’uniforme del SAPI (Iniziative dei Popoli Sud Asiatici), gruppo di cui abbiamo già  fatto accenno e di cui scriveremo meglio nei prossimi giorni.

Tutti i partecipanti sono invitati a ragionare insieme sul trinomio fede-religione-difesa della vita, a creare legami tra le varie associazioni presenti, a partecipare al FSM preparando assieme i tre eventi organizzati dalla famiglia inaziana per il 29 gennaio.

L’arcivescovo di Belem ha voluto essere presente alla serata inaugurale, spendendo parole d’apprezzamento per l’opera dei gesuiti in Amazonia e di incoraggiamento a tutti i partecipanti. Infine ha  impartito la benedizione sull’inizio dei lavori del Pre-Forum. (Sergio S. Sala SJ, Brazil)

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pictures by Anselmo Dias SJ





Creation and the Exodus: two complementary traditions

23 01 2009
by Fernando Franco
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It was a good idea to reach Belem a day and a half earlier. One has more free time and the physical clock gets more time to adjust itself and a busy Jesuit gets the leisure to roam this beautiful vast city of two million people. A group of us decided to attend the morning lectures at the ‘World Forum on Theology and Liberation’, a gathering of ‘progressive’ theologians as they like to call themselves. The Forum meets just before the World Social Forum begins, and this year has attracted more than 900 participants from all over the world.

A theology professor from South Africa presented an insightful and provocative presentation on the ethical implications of sustainability with three examples. The first referred to the unfortunate fact that in many slums of South Africa buckets are used to collect night soil, a euphemism used also quite often in India to describe human waste. Human dignity, he said made it peremptory to stop this practice and provide all human beings with decent sanitation. The second example dwelt with a recent official survey on the water quality of drinking-water reservoirs in South Africa. The conclusions were devastating: the level of the water toxicity was very high. Mining and residual waters were contaminating the reservoirs. The third example talked about the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the danger that the flood of immigrants into South Africa would become a vehicle of transmission of the terrible disease.

In all the three examples, water was the key element but the role it played was quite different. Poor people need more water to have proper sanitation and some greens may not see it as a problem of ecology. Developing the mining industry had polluted the water and hence ‘development’ was against taking care of the earth. Lack of clean water in a neighbouring country was raising an issue of health in South Africa. The issue of water raises apparently contradictory claims.

The South African professor passionately defended a vision that took a balanced view between those who defend anti-poverty programmes and those who talk of creation per se. We need to integrate these two approaches: the need to give justice and dignity to people and to take care of the earth (water). Both ‘justice to the poor’ and justice to the earth were two complementary sides of one whole. We Christian need to read together the account of creation in Genesis and the account of the people’s liberation in Exodus.

This is going to be a forceful debate at this pre-Forum because it is a debate that is considerably weakening the forces of those who are committed to fight for both.