The following pastoral letter was published by the Zimbabwean Catholic bishops in March 2013 as the country prepares for a new round of national elections.
Our concern for Africa is shaped by long term relationsips between Maryknoll missioners and the people of Sudan and South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia. We honor their strength and wisdom and believe that African cultures and traditions often suggest solutions to seemingly intractable local and global problems.
In Africa our Global Concerns work is at times country-specific, focussing, for example, on the slow process toward peace between Sudan and South Sudan, or the genocide in Darfur; the political and economic collapse of Zimbabwe; the introduction of genetically modified seeds or the political situation in Tanzania; efforts to stop corruption in Kenya, among other issues. We also address transnational issues of great concern to all people in Africa: deep and endemic poverty; the HIV and AIDS pandemic; the call for the cancellation of illegitimate and overwhelming debt without conditions that worsen poverty; just trade agreements; the rights of women and children; and environmental degradation.
Articles, alerts, events
The following article was written by Sr. Teresa Hougnon, MM, who lives and works in Kenya, where elections took place on Monday, March 4.
Moral and legal questions have been raised about the Obama administration’s use of drones and by concerns that they will soon be used in Africa for targeted assassinations.
Since June 2011, government forces from Sudan have fought the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the site of the world’s longest-running and most expensive peacekeeping operations, including a UN peacekeeping presence for several years after its independence in 1960 and more recent UN missions starting in the late 1990s. Despite this, an estimated five million people have died in the years since the second regional war began in 1998, and millions more have been forced to flee their homes.
The Rwandan-backed M23 militia withdrew from the eastern area of the DRC on December 1, but, according to Bloomberg news, "the rebels have remained in a ring around the city, within a 20-kilometer (12-mile) neutral zone they had agreed to leave."
The following article, contributed by Marie Dennis, explains how church leaders responded to the September 27 Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan; the agreement covers a number of areas of vital importance, including oil, security arrangements, economic affairs, the status of nationals of the other states, a framework for cooperation on central banking, borders, trade, and other matters.
In early September, faith-based organizations issued a statement citing the “recent surge in violence in eastern Congo with the mutiny and rise of the March 23 movement, or M23,” and their alarm at UN reports revealing Rwanda’s role in supporting and perpetuating violence by orchestrating and bolstering M23 with both military and financial support. The following article was published in the September-October 2012 NewsNotes.
In late June, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns joined with other colleagues in signing the letter below to the U.S. Senate; it asks the Senate to reconsider the increasingly militarized relationship the U.S. has been fostering with African nations. In the next few weeks we might learn more about the recent resignation of Scott Gration from his position as U.S. ambassador to Kenya; initial analysis points to Gration's preference for a more conciliatory tone led to disagreements with the administration's larger plan for the region.
Learn more about the ongoing conflict in the DRC and sign a petition at Change.org to urge Sec. Clinton's response.
Maryknoll Lay Missioner Mary Oldham Hannemann reflects on the care and compassion she has witnessed in her community in Mombasa, Kenya.
Marj Humphrey, who spent many years as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in East Africa, reflects on the well-known but still challenging Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Maryknoll Sister Teresa Hougnon in Kenya reflects on the transformation that happens when we enter into conversation with our enemies.
Maryknoll Father John Barth in Uganda reflects on Jesus' teachings on the framework for Christian living
Dr. Anne Berry, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Tanzania, reflects on the beauty in Tanzania of extending compassion and care beyond typical American cultural norms.
When asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus replied: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this,’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12: 29-31).
In this week's Gospel reading, Jesus uses actions more than words to teach us about love, respect, and compassion.
Maryknoll Sister Veronica Schweyen, who served in Tanzania, reflects on the power of forgiveness.
Maryknoll Fr. David Schwinghamer, currently working at the Palabek Refugee Camp in Uganda, home to many refugees from South Sudan, reflects on the great faith of the people of Africa.
Maryknoll Father Tom Tiscornia in South Sudan reflects on the need to engage in new beginnings and challenges as one community and with trust in God's goodness.
Maryknoll Father John Barth reflects on the light of Jesus shining in all corners of the world, even in refugee settlement camps for South Sudanese people.
Maryknoll Sr. Mary Frances Kobets in Zimbabwe reflects on Jesus' example of letting one's clean heart beat for others.
Maryknoll Father Michael Snyder asks, as followers of Christ, how will we respond to the challenges life, knowing that God resides within us here and now?