By Anastasia Makunu, JCAM Communications
The social apostolate of Rwanda-Burundi Region; Jesuit Urumuri Center, held a sub-regional conference from October 21-22, to mark the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si '. The event brought together many experts on ecology and social issues from the Great Lakes region with an aim to respond to an observation raised by the Holy Father in his encyclical that: “ The young are calling for a change. How is it possible to claim to build a better future without thinking about the environmental crisis and the suffering of those excluded?” ( Laudato si ', n° 13).
This conference was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (called to express the Church’s solitude in the fields of justice, peace, the safeguarding of all creation, as well as in those that concern health and works of charity), the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (a platform of young Catholics in Africa which promotes responsible management of the environment), and Jesuit Missions UK (which supports vulnerable communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America). The organizers of the conference indicated that they are particularly concerned by the relevance and the issues raised through the ecological question: How is it possible to claim to build a better future without thinking about the environmental crisis and the suffering of those excluded? and its relationship to the social situation in Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The interest in these countries lies in their young populations whose energy constitutes an extraordinary opportunity to initiate the ecological conversion of which Pope Francis speaks of. It is in this sense that the common thread of the two-day conference was oriented around the theme: “Young people as actors and promoters of the safeguard of our common home: Challenges of integral human development in Great Lakes Region of Africa”.
Laudato si 'in the African context
The speakers emphasized the relevance of the encyclical Laudato Si' in the African context, the need for viable policies as well as holistic approaches in the search for sustainable solutions to environmental problems. The questions linked to the safeguarding of our common home cannot be exhausted by following these few main axes. But the conference organized by Jesuit Urumuri Centre will have, however, have achieved its objectives if, for example, the young participants were able to internalize the meaning of the “ecological” Sabbath, that is to say knowing how to mark moments of cessation of all human activity on creation and exercise all co-creative capacity with a gaze of contemplation, admiration, recognition, sharing and responsibility on each element of creation. Such an investment is worth its weight in gold. And this is where the Jesuit Urumuri Centres’ wish lies: "That the participants, in their respective living environment, become messengers who carry the invitation to take care of our common home".
To read more about this conference in French. See the related material below.