Guiding principles

 · Each day will start and end with a plenary session.

· The starting plenary will develop the Ignatian framework to guide our reflections in the various workshops.

· The ending plenary will provide a moment to share the work done in the specific Workshops, and discern our way ahead.

In our desire to be present in solidarity and compassion as one Ignatian family to the achievements and opportunities in Africa we may consider three Ignatian principles that may illuminate our daily reflections and our discussion in the Workshops.

(1) Discerning and reading the signs of the times. For Ignatius, every apostolic decision was preceded by discernment and prayer. He reminds us repeatedly in the Spiritual Exercises of the need to examine our life and see where the Lord is calling us. He writes, for example that “he who is giving the Exercises ought not to influence him who is receiving them” (15th Annotation). To be able to make a good election each one has “to come to the contrary of what he is wrongly drawn to” (16th Annotation). Discernment is not only an individual but a communitarian exercise.

Apostolic efficacy depends also in being capable of reading and interpreting the signs of the time (Meditation of the Incarnation). Our spiritual transformation may start by asking some questions: to what extent are our apostolic choices the result of serious analysis, and prayerful communitarian discernment? Given the challenges of our times, what commitment is the Lord calling us to? To what an extent are we aware of the ‘spiritual’ dimension of our service, of the source and inspiration of what we do?

(2) The Ignatian way of proceeding. GC 34 (D 13) attempted to describe the Ignatian way of proceeding, that is, a set of Ignatian values that should guide our apostolic commitment. We need to reflect to what an extent they form part of our life, and of the apostolic strategies we follow. We need to examine the extent to which we have shared them with our partners in our social institutions or centres. We need also to reflect on the way in which they have been integrated into our plans and projects. This clearly involves a reflection on the Ignatian pedagogy to be followed in social transformation and carried out in dialogue with other religions and cultures. In particular, the call of the ‘magis’ during the Spiritual Exercises calls us to make offerings of great generosity. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the situations that confront us, but the Lord calls us to perseverance and persistence in faith. While we need to be open to hear the voice and follow the path of God, we are also called to be generous in committing ourselves to effecting social change. We may ask ourselves: Individually and as an apostolic body, are we ready to move and go where nobody else goes? Are we a credible Body?

(3) One universal Body: While rooted in local conditions, the Society of Jesus is one “universal body” at the service of Christ. While fostering communities ad dispersionem, the Society must be capable of working apostolically in an integrated manner. More specifically, as an Ignatian family we need to profit from collaboration and synergies particularly given that “to prepare our complex and divided world for the coming of the Kingdom requires a plurality of gifts, perspectives, and experiences, both international and multicultural.” (D 26, n.16) We may ask ourselves: what have we achieved in working as a body, as an Ignatian family in Africa? What opportunities for partnership have we missed in effecting social change? How do we live the tension between the ‘local’ and the ‘universal’? What are the steps we need to take? What would we expect from the rest of the Society outside Africa?

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Workshops methodology

The pre-forum workshops will deal with five main themes specially significant for Africa but having also an international dimension. Each of these five workshops will be organised by five different organisations within the Ignatian Family (JRS, AJAN, CLC/CEPAS/CEFOD, HIPSIR, and IJND). The workshops will run co-currently and the presentations will be carried out under four main guiding principles:

  1. The workshop (and the theme under discussion) needs to have a contextual setting, that is, developing from concrete experiences;
  2. A reflection on the Ignatian spirituality or the set of human values grounding this experience needs to be integrated in the workshop;
  3. The workshop should seek better ways of providing an Ignatian response to these issues through a more coordinated networking;
  4. In designing the workshop, attention should be given to the fact that the workshop provides the group an opportunity to prepare their input (intervention) in the joint Workshop/Seminar to be organised by the Ignatian Family at the WSF. On the basis of the reflections of the five workshops, this joint effort would attempt to reflect in public on the cross-cutting Ignatian spirituality for social action.

Each workshop will :

  • enjoy a certain autonomy to design the sessions and plan the way in which the theme will be dealt with. The workshops may consider the Ignatian theme of each day in the development of their themes;
  • prepare each day, at the afternoon plenary, a visual presentation of the work done.

 

The Pre-Forum Encounter will be guided by a Steering Committee (SC). In the afternoon of the third day, following a simple methodology of common discernment, the SC will suggest a methodology for discerning, first within the workshop-groups and then at the plenary, on the most pressing concerns for the Ignatian family in Africa and the world. This process may lead to adopting a few strategic choices in our common apostolic endeavours.


Workshops description

1. Refugees and Forced Migration- JRS

Restrictions faced by persons to their freedom of movement can have many implications and effects to a large extend their enjoyment of other fundamental rights. For refugees and migrants restriction to the freedom of movement already often begins in their country of origin, have large impact on their flight and the restrictions often continue in the country of asylum. You can discuss freedom of movement in the light of refugees and displaced persons from different angles and you can focus on many issues. For the workshop we have decided to deal with three aspects of freedom of movement (or lack of).

Every day we plan to have two speakers. The main speakers will present the topic and the problems/issues arising. This speaker will address the issue from a social aspect. The second speaker will address the issues from a theological point of view incorporating reflections of the Ignatian spirituality. There will also be a refugee giving some information on real-life experience. Also the end of the session will be devoted to solution of the problems and how the wider Ignatian Family can better respond.

2. HIV/AIDS- AJAN

AJAN proposes three workshops on AIDS in Africa. The Ignatian spirituality is that of a frontier Jesuit apostolate. “Human life, a gift of God, has to be respected from its beginning to its natural end. Yet we are increasingly being faced with a ‘culture of death’ which encourages … AIDS, and poverty. We need to encourage a ‘culture of life’” (GC34, D.3, n.8). “In many parts of the world, even in the most developed countries, economic and social forces are excluding millions of people from the benefits of society. E.g., those afflicted with AIDS are condemned to lives of dire poverty, social marginalization and precarious cultural existence. They require of us the attention which our biblical tradition demands for ‘the orphans, widows and strangers in your midst’” (n.15).

3. Conflict, War and Peace- Hekima Peace Institute.

Africa is today defined by three periods of political transitions that call for the articulation of a faith that does justice. The first setting is marked by the structural injustices that are manifested in the marginalisation of the poor, lack of employment, unequal distribution of wealth and poor governance. The second is the conflict setting that is represented by several countries and regions in conflict such as northern Uganda, Darfur region, Ivory Coast, and others. The third comprises countries in transition from conflict to post-conflict reconstruction, at either early or advanced stages. Such countries include Sudan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazaville, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, etc. As Ignatian Family we are challenged to reflect seriously on the role of the Church in transforming structures of injustice, mediation during conflicts and supporting and encouraging post-conflict efforts to restore peace and prevent future conflicts. The Church has the primary task of witnessing to the Kingdom of God here on earth and making it a visible reality.

4. Debt, Trade and Governance: the international development agenda- IJND

Debt, trade and governance are the three topics that have become central in development debates and practice currently. Specially in the case of Africa, the three topics have grown all the more relevant in order to tackle poverty. Governments, International Bodies and Civil Society Organisations have their own vision and proposals on how to solve the debt trap, how to put trade at the service of human development and how to make governance work for the poor. In this seminar we will analyse the current debates from a civil society perspective, in the light of the Catholic Social Teaching and Ignatian Spirituality. In a participatory way, we will develop ways of better networking in these areas, both as Ignatian Family, and as members of a broader international civil society.

5. Management and Depletion of Natural Resources- CEPAS/CEFOD

Africa is a continent blessed by God »: thus goes the common thought. As a matter of fact, the Creator has given to Africa not only valuable people, but also immense natural resources (oil, coltan, diamond, etc.). Some African countries (e.g. the Democratic Republic of Congo), are rightly seen as a “geological scandal”. One would then expect that sons and daughters of Africa would benefit from these resources in order to have a good and dignified life of God’s children and to reconstruct their continent.

Unfortunately, one realizes that these resources have never been for the benefit of sons and daughters of Africa. Worse, one is tempted to say that instead of being source of benediction, these resources have become the source of malediction and source of bloody conflict.

This workshop intends to achieve two goals: First, to point out the shameful looting of African natural resources and, second, to advocate for the trial of all those who were or/and are involved in this looting that causes pain and death in Africa.

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Activities and Methodology

Objectifs

Workshop Schedule

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