On the 20-23 November 2018 the Secretariat for Justice and Peace met in Cebu for its annual meeting. Representatives were from Korea, Thailand (by Skype), Philippines, and United Nations. The meeting consisted of a review of social justice issues in the region.
One of the issues, along with migration of peoples, was climate change affected areas. A presentation was given by Fr. Aladdin Luzon of the Basilica of Santo Nino in Cebu on his projects on Kinatarcan Island, which was devastated by the super Typhoon Yolanda, also called Haiyan, killing over 6300 people, in 2013. One of the projects involves an experimental design for a typhoon-proof structure called the Balay-Bao or “turtle house,” named for its curved concrete roof. See the development program on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/y8d9hufv.
The parish at the Basilica also has a superb social media communications program in place. Under the leadership of Fr. Genesis Labana and a well-prepared staff, the ministry has won two awards. The Augustinians take seriously the importance of social media as a necessary means for reaching young people and for disseminating information and opening channels for feedback.
Fr. John Murray in Bangkok gave a presentation via Skype on the immigration situation in Thailand. Information on the Global Compact for Refugees and Migrants can be found at https://www.icvanetwork.org/.
Fr. Bob Dueweke presented an outline and rationale why the Augustinians are at the United Nations. The paper “The Third UN,” in reference to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), highlighted the specific role of Catholic NGO. That role consists of building four kinds of bridges between types of communities. The first bridge is between the local communities themselves. The second bridge is between the local communities and the UN agencies. The third is between the local communities and ecclesial structures, such as the bishops’ conference. The last bridge is between the ecclesial structures and the UN, for example, drawing on Catholic Social Teaching in the forming of public policy. These “bridges” act as two-way communication.
Fr. Dueweke had a chance to meet with the Justice and Social Communications committees of the basilica to discuss the role of Augustinians International and how they might be able to collaborate more effectively with the New York office. We also explored various ways for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
General Chapter 2019
Fr. Tony Banks raised the question concerning what information the Secretariat for Justice and Peace ought to bring to the General Chapter. Some ideas presented were the promotion and defense of human rights, Laudato Si and concern for the environment, the promotion of the SDGs, most importantly, SDG 16 on fortifying institutions of justice and peace. It is true that there is what Pope Francis calls an “indifference” among people regarding social justice. Some say it is plainly “uninteresting.” The key task is to fire up the imagination that will capture interest and renewed commitment toward social justice issues. The conditions for this to happen is to create a higher viewpoint from which new perspectives on a situation can be drawn. One such viewpoint is the SDGs. The task is the educate the membership regarding the vital UN program.
Secretariat for Justice and Peace participants
Gary McCloskey (Villanova), Wieslaw Dawidowski (Poland), Tony Banks (Asst. General), Patricio Villalba (Asst. General), Bob Dueweke (United Nations), Chang Ho Kim (Korea), Aladdin Luzon (Philippines), Jepser Bermudez (Philippines), and John Murray (Tahailand, via Skype)