J/P Alert is the newsletter of the Justice and Peace office
of CMSM. It is intended to inform and stimulate discussion and involvement
among the members. Its contents do not necessarily represent official
positions of CMSM.
Social Forum in Nairobi
The annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland,
of the World
Economic Forum was held this year from January 24th to 28th. The WEF
brings together powerful international economic and business leaders,
politicians and celebrities to discuss the state of the world while ensconced
behind security barricades in a luxury resort. The seventh World
Social Forum, in contrast, took place from the 20th to the 25th of
January, 2007, in Nairobi, Kenya. The WSF began in 2001 in Porto Alegre,
Brazil, as a counterweight to the WEF. Here is this year's self-description
of the WSF from its web site:
The 7th edition of the World Social
Forum brings the world to Africa as activists, social movements, networks,
coalitions and other progressive forces from Asia-Pacific, Latin America,
the Caribbean, North America, Europe and all corners of the African
continent converge in Nairobi, Kenya for five days of cultural resistance
and celebration; panels, workshops, symposia, processions, film nights
and much much more; beginning on the 20th of January and wrapping up
on the 25th of January 2007.
From its modest origins in Porto Alegre in the year 2001, the World
Social Forum has mushroomed into a global counter-force challenging
the assumptions and diktats of imperialism and its associated neo-liberal
policies that have over the decades, imposed colonialism and neo-colonialism;
devastated Southern economies; bolstered the disastrous and repressive
reigns of assorted tin pot dictatorships; marginalized women; disenfranchised
youth; intensified the destruction of the environment; unleashed bloody,
inhuman and needless military conflicts in nation after nation, region
after region and deepened the exploitation of poor peoples around the
Religious voices have always played
a large part in the WSF. Jim Hug, SJ, president of the Center
of Concern in Washington, DC, summarized his reaction as follows:
The main important thing I experienced
happening at the WSF through the workshops, marches and cultural exchanges
was the building of solidarity and hope among people who need to know
that they are not alone in their serious and at times desperate life
struggles. It was the affirmation of the justice and importance of those
struggles. It was the linking of people's struggles around the world.
It was esteem building. It was legitimizing. As the children chanted,
leading our march: ‘We are somebody' and we don't have to stand
for this. Another kind of world, a world of justice for everyone, is
possible if we struggle together for it.
If nothing else occurred here, that
would be enough to make the WSF inestimably valuable.
Another participant put it this way:
I appreciated the presence and role
of religious institutions at the Forum. Their solidarity made it possible
for those who could not afford it to attend the Forum and speak directly
of their own problems (for example, the future of indigenous peoples,
issues related to poverty, debt, AIDS, exploitation of natural resources,
the impact of globalization and marginalization, democracy). Even the
most destitute people from Nairobi who felt excluded made their voice
heard thanks to their parallel Forum (Jan. 21st-23rd), or through the
demonstrations by street kids outside and inside the Forum's space.
Not only through speeches but also through theirs songs, dances and
other artistic shows, the participants created a joyful and festive
atmosphere - creating a tone that was specific to this first Forum on
the African continent. Indeed, many joined easily in the dances and
marches. It was the moment when one experiences the fall of barriers.
[Antoine D. Bérilengar SJ, Chad]
The following are some excerpts from
reports provided by the Jesuit Social Justice Secretariat in Rome.
Since the first World Social Forum
(WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001, six WSFs have taken place around
the world. The 7th World Social Forum under the title "People's
Struggles, People's Alternatives" will further the aim of previous
Fora, to - in the words of the organizers – "expand the democratic
spaces of those seeking concrete, sustainable and progressive alternatives
to imperialist globalization." As an international platform, the
WSF "has placed social justice, international solidarity, gender
equality, peace and defense of the environment on the agenda of the
The WSF was organized around nine thematic 'terrains':
1. Building a world of peace, justice, ethics and respect for diverse
2. Liberating the world from the domination of multinational and financial
3. Ensuring universal and sustainable access to the common goods of
4. Democratizing knowledge and information;
5. Ensuring dignity, defending diversity, guaranteeing gender equality
and eliminating all forms of discrimination;
6. Guaranteeing economic, social and cultural rights, especially the
rights to food, healthcare, education, housing, employment and decent
7. Building a world order based on sovereignty, self-determination and
rights of the peoples
8. Constructing a people-centered and sustainable economy;
9. Building real democratic political structures and institutions with
people's participation on decisions and control of public affairs and
Previous WSFs have been criticized for concentrating on general and
vague criticisms of neoliberalism and imperialism and producing few
practical ideas. The 'terrains' listed above seem to be practical enough
to stimulate participants and organizers to come up with concrete steps
to make "another world possible."
** Challenges in Africa's social transformation
In a very provoking intervention, Dr. David Kaulem, Professor of Philosophy
and Ethics in Harare (Zimbwabe), outlined the main paradox of African
modernity: the predominance of the 'political' over all other realms,
and the existence of ambiguities and ambivalences as a reaction to past
colonial history. Areas as diverse as economics and religion are today
dominated by the discourse and practice of politics, and different aspects
of social life have become the playfield of those wanting to acquire
The phenomenon of the simultaneous existence of love and hate - he added
- marks the present African consciousness: we hate the idea of the nation-state
built on the colonial objective of exploiting the natural resources
of a country to the fullest extent possible, and yet we defend the nation-state
as the solution to our problems.
Dr. Kaulem went on to list six main challenges in Africa today. He spoke
of, first, the 'search for truth,' that is, the struggle to name, to
define what is happening to us; what seems to be important today is
to understand who tells whose story. Next is the challenge to encourage
the participation of grassroots individuals and organizations in social
life - the very pre-condition for stability. The third challenge, he
said, was the paradox that as poverty increases, wealth keeps growing
among the very few. The other three challenges are the fight against
disease (malaria and HIV/AIDS), the establishment of human rights and
security for all, and gender issues.
** Africa walks
"Africa Walks..." was one of the things I was told when I
first visited Africa. Today, Africa and her friends walked en masse,
taking another set of steps towards justice, equality and real independence.
Large numbers of Africans, mostly from the poor areas of the city of
Nairobi, marched to the opening ceremony of the World Social Forum in
Uhuru Park, a space itself defended by these people from those who wished
to turn it into more buildings.
As our group settled onto grassy ridges on the hillside overlooking
the stage, music guided arriving groups and kept most of us in motion.
In truth, I was a bit disappointed in the turnout - certainly not the
100,000 that was advertised. The hot sun had driven people to the few
shady spots; and the speakers and entertainment were mixed.
This event is a forum for those who have no voice on the world stage
- rivaling Davos (whatever number these days) etc. - but today I was
very aware of the large number of people like myself, first worlders
who are trying to be friends of Africa, but not many poor people of
Africa themselves. This is one of the few moments in which their reality
is spoken out loudly in creative and passionate ways. And that reality
is that "Africa has NOT died." Despite and through the sufferings
of this people "on the road to Jericho," as was the unnamed
victim in the parable of the Good Samaritan, another world IS possible,
and perhaps being created before our eyes in this previously unimaginable
event in Nairobi. [Jim Stormes SJ, Jesuit Conference, USA]
The workshop on conflict, war and peace highlighted both the causes
of the conflicts, (and war) and the struggle for peace in Africa. As
Peter Wanyade, Dean of the Faculty of Arts (University of Nairobi) emphasized,
the type of leadership is the main cause of conflicts and war in Africa.
The issue is how African leaders manage public resources. He added that
to understand African conflicts as tribal and ethnic problems is misleading.
Talking about the process of conflict resolution and peace building,
Peter pointed to the fact that people often deal with symptoms rather
than the real causes, and that this is the main reason why some efforts
to build up peace in Africa have been unsuccessful. Some of the steps
in our way forward can be: introducing mechanisms to control political
power; educating people; promoting equal distribution of public resources;
and reinforcing the power of civil society." [Loua Hyacinthe SJ]
* Mixed Feelings
As a newcomer to the World Social Forum, I have mixed feelings about
the event. From the organization to the content and usefulness, there
are many aspects which are good, and many which can be improved. Unfortunately,
not having attended any previous World Social Forums, I cannot compare
this event to those of the past. During the first two days I experienced
no-shows, rescheduled events, very general discussions and very detailed
ones, powerful pleas and roof-raising cheers. In some workshops the
grassroots presence could be felt strongly, for example, the Human Rights
Caucus, which featured amazing dancing, singing and stories from the
Kenyan Peoples Settlement. Others gave general overviews of themes ranging
from water and gender to corporations and human rights.
In the area surrounding the main stadium there have been marches for
Equality of the Dalits in India, an independent Western Sahara, the
Kenyan Peoples Settlement, and the Ethiopian Social Forum, among others.
The World Social Forum represents a beautiful idea and dream, and while
many ideas are hatched and brought forward, and much progress is surely
made through networking, it remains to be seen what concrete outcomes
will emerge from this event and what its long-term possibilities might
be. [Tanya Ziegler, OCIPE, Brussels]
* A parish Mass
Last Sunday morning a large group from our Ignatian family decided to
start the World Social Forum with a Mass at the slum of Kisambani where
the Jesuits have a parish. Some of us who were not entirely sure we
would attend the Mass were moved to do so by the informality of Jon
Sobrino, SJ, in a talk spontaneously organized the previous evening
on the topic "Salvation can only come from the poor...." One
of the objectives of this Forum is undoubtedly to bring us closer to
African society, to give the world to this continent and facilitate
the process by which this social movement can listen to Africa. I believe
that the simple fact of making ourselves present in this parish has
made the World Social Forum reach these people who, quite obviously,
are not going to be present at most of the debates and conferences.
By attending the Mass, many of us had the chance to feel welcomed by
the people of this poor slum of Nairobi and share with them in the Eucharistic
banquet. [Marcos Ibanez, ALBOAN, Spain]
** A day at the Forum
After an hour spent in crossing the city, our bus finally stops in front
of the Moi stadium. We are ready to face another intense day at the
World Social Forum.
As soon as I reach the main road that encircles the stadium I become
aware again of the "organized chaos" that the Forum in some
way represents. The great variety of languages, music, colors, smells,
leaflets, banners and mottos (so often contradictory!) serves to increase
our confusion. They are at the same time a joyful song to life and to
the value of diversity.
I walk between people in Indian saris, traditional African dresses,
and the typical European uniform of a professional adventurer. Often
I have to move away to let one of the small but animated marches pass
by; many of these crisscross the stadium surroundings. A group marching
in defense of the Adivasis in India is followed by another group of
African women reclaiming the sole right to take decisions regarding
their own bodies.
I consult the voluminous Guide of Events to find the place of the workshop
I have decided to attend from the myriad other events taking place simultaneously
at the Forum. Some workshops have well-known speakers and are held in
huge tents. Other events gather anonymous persons telling their own
experiences in confined spaces which they sometimes have to share with
After attending a couple of workshops and going around the stalls to
enjoy the festive atmosphere, I decide that I have finished for the
day. Seated again in the bus that took us to the Forum I see through
the window the faces of slum dwellers looking at me from the shantytowns
we pass by. I wonder if they have ever heard the words "World Social
Forum." The paradox is that the 'real' protagonists of the Forum
seem to be excluded from it, or at the very least, their participation
is limited to selling water bottles or handicrafts. I tell myself that
this reflects the contradictions that we as individuals, organizations
and societies are facing today.
Another memory seems to emerge from this disturbing thought--the memory
of a small workshop where very different persons shared their experiences,
preoccupations and problems on issues touching our entire humanity.
It was a small and unimportant workshop where the different voices could
not be clearly heard; the words were full of stumbling limitations,
even contradictions. But all these voices shared a moving common trait:
they clearly conveyed the sense that they feel accompanied in building
this other world which is not only possible but necessary. [Zigor Uribe-etxebarria,
** Is another World Social Forum Possible?
As the curtain comes down on the 2007 Nairobi World Social Forum it
is good to ask what the Social Forum has achieved. The Forum has managed
to bring different social movements from all over the world to join
in the quest of another world, a better world. I think this is something
that we should be grateful for!
The irony is this: where are the poor? Despite the noble agenda of the
Social Forum and the fact that it is taking place in a city that has
thousands of poor people and is home to one of the biggest slums in
Africa, the participation of the "poor people of Nairobi"
has been minimal. Why is this so? Fees, the cost of food, the distance
-- these factors have made the World Social Forum sideline the poor.
Only those who can afford it (the 'haves') are able to participate;
the 'have nots' remain at the gates. No wonder demonstrations over the
high costs have been staged daily against the Forum; most ordinary Kenyans
have not been able to attend.
Walking through the grounds at the massive Moi Sports Centre, the World
Social Forum seems to be more of a fun fair for visiting tourists and
NGO delegates, paying only token attention to the poor people of Nairobi
in the various deliberations. There is a lot of merry-making, buying
and selling, eating and drinking, yet most of the workshops are nearly
empty, or are simply not taking off.
As I leave Kenya I wonder why we had gathered in Nairobi! For whom was
the World Social Forum organized? Is another Social Forum Possible;
a forum of, and for the poor; a forum of ordinary people? [Ngonidzashe
Edward SJ, Zimbabwe]
It has been a day of contrasts: poverty and wealthy, courage and desperation,
energy and exhaustion, new friendships and early farewells, projects
and vague ideas, hope and difficulties. All these were seen and experienced
by many of us who have been here.
In the end, all of us gathered at Uhuru Park as we did on the day of
the inauguration. Slogans, proposals, music from everywhere, dances,
demonstrations... these were part of the closing ceremony. I will remember
forever the hope and energy of African social movements, the solidarity
of people from different countries and the will to create a possible
world among people of different ideologies, religions, spiritualities,
cultures and societies.
It was very difficult to arrive at concrete proposals, but some about
which we heard were:
- health: to ensure that the government puts
aside 15% of the GNP to ensure health; universal access to health;
sex education and education on sexual and reproductive rights; a global
conference on universal health, and sexual security;
- peace: an appeal to the UN Security Council
to approve women's participation in peace-building processes; to pull
US troops out of Iraq and Somalia; a nuclear disarmament campaign;
a campaign for the abolition of arms and weapons;
- youth: to ensure that youth, especially women,
have access to education;
- future: to work for another kind of economy
- Where is the World Social Forum headed?
As the seventh edition of the World
Social Forum, held in Nairobi between January 20th-25th 2007, comes
to an end, one of the questions that have prompted much debate is that
of the future of the Word Social Forum itself. Where is the World Social
Forum heading? What path must it follow if it is to remain relevant?
What must be its future? Created in 2000, following the Battle of Seattle,
the World Social Forum (WSF) has become a sort of Mecca for all those
in search of a fairer world under the motto "Another world is possible".
It comprises an amalgamation of organizations, big and small, international
and local, pertaining to very different ideologies; social movements,
base communities, trade unions, and many dissenting groups. All are
searching for concrete solutions to the challenges facing the building
of another world based on the principles of justice, equity and respect
of human rights, where, thanks to a more humane globalization, the economy
will be at the service of people.
Undoubtedly, from its first meeting, the Forum exceeded all expectations
as to the number of participants and its geographical expansion. It
is also unquestionable that it has transcended the Davos Economic Forum,
which, on those very days, gathers prominent leaders of the world's
economy. The WSF keeps the same dates not because it pretends to copy
the Davos meet, but because it aims at a larger goal: addressing the
concerns, hopes and alternatives of civil society. It is equally true
that a number of the Forum's demands have come to form part of the political
agenda and have become a worldwide reference. As Bonaventura de Sousa
puts it: "The international institutions and other power-holding
authorities, in recent years, have been obliged to take into account
proposals and demands made at the WSF". Nonetheless, after a few
editions, the Forum is now going through a bad patch with regard to
its future and this has given rise to intense debate. As Sami Nair,
an Egyptian intellectual and one of the leaders of the Forum of Alternatives,
points out: "The World Social Forum has played an important role,
but it is a system that is beginning to wear out".
Must the Forum remain, as its charter of principles indicates, a democratic
venue for ideas, in-depth reflection, formulation of proposals and a
link between civil society organizations without issuing documents,
joint declarations or taking collective steps? Or must it, on the contrary,
make stronger proposals and take collective steps? What is sure is that,
almost from its beginning, that question has been intensely debated
between those who consider that the Forum, given the huge diversity
of the organizations that attend it, should be an encounter and space
for dialogue, and those who want it to take unique stands, issue joint
documents and carry out collective actions. That question and that debate
come up at every Forum with increasing urgency.
It is not easy to answer those questions without knowing what might
be the most adequate solution. What seems certain, however, as Roberto
Savio, member of the organizing Committee pointed out, is that the Forum's
success cannot be measured by the criteria of the number of participants
or geographical expansion alone; more importantly, we must ascertain
that it is contributing to the building of that other world that it
proclaims. [Valeria Méndez de Vigo, Entreculturas, Spain]
LCWR Resolution on Torture
A new LCWR Resolution to Action on torture is now on the
LCWR website at:
Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church
The Compendium is now available
Rev. Robert Drinan, SJ—R.I.P.
[The following is taken from
a New England Jesuit Province press release and a Boston Globe story by
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J. a member of the New England Province of
Jesuits and former member of the United States House of Representatives,
died after a brief illness at Washington's Sibley Memorial Hospital at
3:15 P.M. on Sunday, January 28, 2007.
His fellow Jesuits mourn the loss of their distinguished brother. The
Provincial of New England, the Very Reverend Thomas J. Regan, S.J., who
was visiting Jesuit missionaries in the province works at Kingston, Jamaica,
W.I., called to express his prayerful sympathy and admiration for Fr.
Drinan's sixty-five years of faithful and dedicated service to the Society
of Jesus and in particular the Jesuit mission of education, social action
in the promotion of justice and service to the people of the United States.
"Father Drinan was a forever gentle, resilient, tenacious advocate
for social justice and fundamental decency," said Senator John F.
Kerry, who was Father Drinan's campaign chairman in 1970. "He lived
out in public life the whole cloth of Catholic teachings. In the most
divisive days of Vietnam when things were coming apart, this incredible
man and most unlikely of candidates showed America how a man of faith
could be a man of peace."
Several of Father Drinan's colleagues said his character and conscience
made him a strong voice on Capitol Hill. In a statement, Senator Edward
Kennedy cited Father Drinan's principled commitment to, among other causes,
ending the war in Vietnam. "He was a profile in courage in every
sense of the word, and the nation has lost one of the finest persons ever
to serve in Congress," Kennedy said.
A Liturgy of the Resurrection was celebrated at St. Ignatius Church at
Boston College on Saturday, February 3, 2007, with burial following at
the Jesuit cemetery at Campion Center in Weston, MA.
and Skills for Justice Ministry
Sponsored by the Holy Cross International Justice Office
and the Sisters of the Holy Cross, JusticeCraft is an intensive weeklong
seminar that prepares participants to lead and coordinate justice activities
of religious congregations.
Interactive sessions focus on:
- a theology/spirituality of justice ministry;
- today's critical issues: global economic justice, ecological
sustainability, peacemaking and nonviolence;
- practical strategies for engaging congregations in
the work of creating a peaceful, just and sustainable society; and
- rituals that shape and sustain commitment.
The JusticeCraft 2007 seminar will be held at Saint
Mary's, Notre Dame, Indiana, beginning Sunday, June 3, at 7 p.m. and concluding
Sunday, June 10, at noon.
Information brochure and registration form
(1.42 MB–downloadable PDF file)
Registration deadline is May 10, 2007.
For more information, contact Mary
Turgi, CSC, or Ann
With the theme "…and How are the Children?"
the 2007 Ecumenical
Advocacy Days conference will be held at the Doubletree Hotel Crystal
City, Arlington, VA, March 9-12, 2007.
From the 2007 EAD Moral Statement:
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
defend the rights of all those who have nothing. Speak up and judge
fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs
"Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth
and action." 1 John 3:18
Drawn from a wide range of churches across the United States, we gather
in Washington, D.C. to speak up for children. The eminent theologian
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that "the test of the morality of a society
is how it treats its children." How we value and respect children
– and whether we shape our public policies to bless their present
and future – reflects who we are and the kind of world in which
we want to live.
Information is available on the web site or by contacting
Michael Neuroth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CMSM is a sponsor of EAD.
Save the Date
April 13-15 - The Future of Catholic
Peacebuilding Network will sponsor a conference on the future of Catholic
peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, April 13-15, 2007. It will
be a major conference for scholars and practitioners to reflect on the
theological, ethical and practical dimensions of the Church's peacebuilding
work. The conference is connected to a major research project which will
produce a major book on the theology, ethics, and praxis of Catholic peacebuilding.
It will also provide an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from
Catholic peacebuilding around the world and future directions for this
often unexamined and unheralded dimension of the Church's ministry.
For further information, contact email@example.com
May 6-8 - "For the Peace of Jerusalem"
Churches for Middle East
Peace will organize a Middle
East Peace Advocacy Conference
May 6-8, 2007, in Washington, DC.
Advocates from churches around the country are invited to participate.
This ecumenical conference will focus on US policy and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict with speakers, workshops, advocacy preparation and a day of lobbying
your elected officials. The program will begin on Sunday evening and conclude
with Tuesday's Hill appointments and will include a special session for
Information and registration form are available
on the Conference web site. The CMSM Justice and Peace Director serves
on CMEP's board.
June 9-12 - Sowing Seeds: Growing a Movement
This June, thousands of people of faith and conscience will gather in
our nation's capital to sow the seeds of a movement to end hunger and
Gathering 2007, June 9-12, American University,
Washington, DC, is organized by Bread
for the World, Bread for the World Institute, and the Alliance to
End Hunger in partnership with denominations and religious organizations
across the United States. Further information is available on the web
October 26-28 - "Are not our
Spirituality of Mission in the 21st Century
Catholic Mission Association will hold its annual conference October
26-28 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Austin, Texas. Keynote Speakers
will be Ron Rolheiser, OMI and Gerald Arbuckle, SM. More information is available on the web site, or
by calling 202-832-3112 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
How can the Justice and Peace Office help you get involved?
T. Michael McNulty, SJ, editor
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conference of bishops and other major groups in church and society;
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