This is the place where the questions you have had in the back of your mind find a quick, concise and - hopefully - clear answer. So, ask away!
Q. So the Comboni Missionaries build bridges of information through their media outlets. What other bridges do you build?
A. We also build international bridges of Justice and Peace. How is it done? Let us start with some basic principles.
- True human beings show their humanity when they are good stewards of their environment. Doing otherwise would be like committing mass suicide.
- True Christians follow the Gospel of Jesus, who came to establish a kingdom of justice and peace.
- Both dimensions, the human and the Christian, demand concrete action. You can’t just say a prayer that our planet may not blow up, nor can you just say to the hungry: “I will do an hour of adoration for you.” Having done all of that, the planet will still blow up and the hungry will still be hungry.
- Remember that in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 25, we are not asked how many hours we spent on our knees, but how much we actually did for our neighbor in this life.
- Be assured that there cannot be peace without justice. Peace is more than the absence of war or the quiet stillness of a cemetery. There is peace when the dignity, the rights and the legitimate aspirations of all human beings are recognized.
With that in mind, as devout Christians, let us take a look at the world we live in:
- We waste resources as if they were limitless, while others live in misery: lack of clean water, food, education, health care and shelter afflict untold millions of people.
- We blabber a lot about defending freedom, while countless masses of human beings live in slavery, or are deprived of their right to make their own political, religious and social choices.
- We speak of peace, while we join other countries in spreading weapons of destruction and by thinking that the solution to someone else’s problems is to drop more bombs.
- We gather in prayer and celebration, while our brothers and sisters are persecuted, crucified and beheaded in the Middle East.
- We fought for the abolition of slavery, but today 31 million people are still victims of human trafficking, from the sweatshop of Bangladesh to the parking lots of our stadiums.
- We, for the most part, are the descendants of immigrants, but easily forget that the right to migrate in order to seek a decent life is basic to the human race.
- We expect a just reward for our work, but financial inequality both in our country and outside has reached criminal proportions.
- We speak of free and fair elections that will ensure the common good, but we are ruled by money interests and manipulated by fear-mongering media.
Need I continue? One cannot be truly human and truly Christian while remaining indifferent to any of the above.
This is why the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Sisters, like most missionary institutions, are active in advocating for those who are in any way oppressed, persecuted, abandoned and rejected by society. The spirit of St. Daniel Comboni compels us to do so. We seek access to the halls of power and to the media in order to fight public ignorance of and indifference to basic social facts and moral obligations. To do so:
- We have a very active office of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in Newark, NJ and another one in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Comboni Sisters are active out of Baltimore, Md and Richmond, Va.
- Our offices publish monthly JPIC newsletters to highlight current issues: Justice and Peace Newsletter.
- Together with other JPIC groups, we are members of an association called VIVAT. This gives us access to the United Nations.
- In the early 1980s we were among the founders of Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) where we are still quite active today. AFJN is active in Washington, DC to make sure that the legislators deal with Africa in a just and humane way.
- Our communities are in the forefront of the struggle for just immigration laws and against human trafficking.
- Our magazine and newsletters always highlight JPIC causes.
Thanks to this organization, we have the capacity to be the voice of the voiceless, be they victims of war in South Sudan, of human trafficking in Egypt and Israel, or displaced indigenous people in the Amazon basin and Guatemala, without forgetting the homeless migrants in our country and more. We link the grassroots with the world movers.
Joseph Bragotti, mccj