The Catholic Church is growing most rapidly in Africa, and has worked with CPN in solidarity to build peace in the region. In 2006, CPN held a conference in Burundi and, more recently, the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame hosted a visiting scholar from the region. In March 2009, the Bishops of Burundi invited a CPN delegation to conduct a seminar on Political Reconciliation. Steve Pope, from the Department of Theology at Boston College, and Dan Philpott from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, facilitated the seminar in Bujambura, Burundi.
Below is an explanation of this work in the region:
CPN and the Great Lakes Region: A Common Vision, A Shared Experience
It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. But there are new ways of thinking about and responding to old problems. The world’s need to lay down its arms, purge jealousy and hatred from the human heart, and focus its resources and energies on the suffering of the poor and the victims is no less urgent today than it was at the time of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Still today, we are called to do justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God. And certainly it is not new for the Catholic Church to be engaged in the work of peace and justice. But today we enjoy and are simultaneously threatened by a new set of circumstances, in an era of expanded global communications and trade, accompanied by the intensified sharing across borders and cultures of both ideas and skills for the common good, and, lamentably, of weapons and ideologies of greed and destruction.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Church’s faithful response to this new situation is a renewed and updated commitment to the building and nurturing of sustainable human relationships across every kind of barrier and border—ethnic, religious, economic, cultural—relationships dedicated to advancing the common good and the human dignity of all, to developing nonviolent solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and indeed, through the agency of the Spirit, to transforming human hearts. This building of economic, religious and social friendships we name as “peace-building.”
For many years now, following upon the Second Vatican Council’s renewal of the Church’s preferential option for the poor and its mandate that we proclaim the gospel in and through the local cultures, we have seen Catholic social teaching take on new life and express itself in new forms of solidarity. We are present in Central Africa in this spirit of solidarity with the people of this region, and we share the hope of deepening that solidarity through collaborative partnership and action on behalf of the poor and the victims of violence.
The CPN’s mission, then is threefold: first, to listen and to learn from Central Africa’s experience and wisdom; second, to celebrate and lift up to others around the world all that the local and regional churches are doing to build peace and do justice; and third, to share ideas, resources and best practices through the network and far beyond it.
Note: We are grateful to Fr. Jean Nymbo, SJ, research assistant, and Tito Contreras, visiting scholar, at the University of Notre Dame for thier substantial contributions to the Central Africa content of this website.