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Oblates attend VIVAT workshop
23/08/2011 India

On August 7-12, sixteen Oblates from the Sri Lankan provinces of Jaffna and Colombo, as well as from Bangladesh, Japan and India participated in the VIVAT International workshop in Indore, India along with over 100 other religious. Also present were the Director of the JPIC General Service, Fr. Camille PICHE and the Oblates’ representative at the United Nations in New York, Fr. Daniel LEBLANC.

The participants deliberated on missionary concerns for JPIC and the role of VIVAT International, an organized network of all the members of eight men and women religious congregations, whose work, expertise, and experience has a direct bearing on issues related to social justice, development, peace and ecology.

Reports given during the workshop included the following areas of JPIC activities: HIV /AIDS treatment, prevention and rehabilitation; street children; the rights of Indigenous Peoples; land alienation and tribal lands; children, women and domestics; people affected by leprosy; physically challenged persons; waste pickers and migrant workers. Also mentioned were initiatives for income generation, vocational training, etc. There were also special reports on the conflict in the Middle East (Palestinian Rights), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Some of the workshop presentations found inspiration in the biblical notion of justice This biblical concept is founded on the belief that “we all are created in the image and likeness of God and so endowed with dignity and integrity.” The biblical concept of peace is both personal and social. Biblical peace is the result of justice. It is a restored relationship between God and humans and among human beings.

Other presentations focused on the social teaching of the Church, particularly as found in papal encyclicals and the World Synod of Bishops on social justice (1971). One of the recent encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate,” provided food for thought. In tune with the workshop’s theme, the analysis of the encyclical on present day poverty, economic meltdown and environmental destruction were highlighted. The Pope notes that the prevailing situation in the world is a result of moral degradation, disrespect for life and a lack of solidarity. In order to build a just and peaceful society, we need to revitalize ourselves with values that enhance life in truth and charity. World leaders have a responsibility towards the regeneration of our world.

In order to begin a process of choosing preferred areas of JPIC work as members of VIVAT International, in view of advocacy and networking at the national level, the members identified a large number of issues out of which five were prioritized:

  1. Human rights of domestic and migrant workers;
  2. Children’s rights;
  3. Food security;
  4. Dalit Christians’ Constitutional Rights (the Dalit are an oppressed caste in South Asia);
  5. Mining and displacement.