By Fr. Ken Forster, OMI, Associate Pastor, St. Philip Neri Parish
Why is “Development and Peace” so important and integral to the life of every parish? It is an essential ministry of every Catholic community today because it has been faithful to its mandate for over 50 years.
Development and Peace was established in 1967, when I was in seminary, in response to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, which says that “Development” is the new word for “Peace”.
We today recognize that peace is an elusive goal. We see on the news everyday stories of something we would think impossible in our “enlightened world” — the invasion of an independent country by a neighbour. Pope Francis, in his latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” notes that the many wars and conflicts impact the whole world: “In today’s world, there are no longer just isolated outbreaks of war in one country or another; instead, we are experiencing a “world war fought piecemeal”, since the destinies of countries are so closely interconnected on the global scene.”
Henri Nouwen shares this challenge, “You’re sent into this world to be a people of reconciliation. You are sent to heal, to break down the walls between you and your neighbors, locally, nationally, and globally. Before all distinctions, the separations, and the walls built on foundations of fear, there was a unity in the mind and heart of God. Out of that unity, you are sent into this world for a little while to claim that you and every other human being belongs to the same God of Love who lives from eternity to eternity.”
Pope Francis elaborates, “If every human being possesses an inalienable dignity, if all people are my brothers and sisters, and if the world truly belongs to everyone, then it matters little whether my neighbour was born in my country or elsewhere.” 150
These reflections are the platform on which “Development and Peace” rest. I do not believe the Church was established by Christ primarily for the salvation of those who belong to it. Rather Christ was about realizing the “kingdom of His Father” and he called his Church to continue his work of healing, serving, sharing, forgiving, and reconciling in our “common home.” This is the goal of Development and Peace.
In the Global South, we support partner organizations in their support of democracy and citizen participation, ecological justice, justice for women, peace and reconciliation, and humanitarian aid. I say “we”, because this is your Catholic organization, and it is my way to reach the world with Christ’s love. We are a democratic movement for international solidarity in the pursuit of alternatives to unjust social, political, and economic structures.
Join us to educate Canadians about the causes of the impoverishment of peoples and to mobilize them to act for change. In the struggle for human dignity, we unite with social change groups in the North and the South. We mobilize a movement of international solidarity. We advocate for fair and just policies and live a “preferential option for the poor.”
I have seen the south through my nine years of ministry in Kenya. I have witnessed the disparity of the world. I have always encouraged parishes where I have served in Canada, to become educated on the causes of poverty and injustice. In a small parish in Cranbrook, we decided to tithe, yes 10per cent of our parish income, for the Lenten collection for D&P. We were the widow who gave more than any other who put into the treasury.
Let us educate ourselves. Let us financially support our partners in the global south who work for transformation of all unjust structures, that oppress.
Share Lent 2022 – Development and Peace / Caritas Canada’s People and Planet First campaign invites us to support our sisters and brothers in the Global South in defending their rights and the planet:
- Donate online at devp.org/give or during the Solidarity Sunday collection on April 3, the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Your generosity helps support over 85 projects in 27 countries around the world.
- Learn more by reading the Share Lent mini-magazine and other resources available at devp.org/lent/resources.
- Sign the petition for strong laws to control Canadian corporations’ behaviour abroad at devp.org/act.