Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation

Visiting Rondônia in the Brazilian Amazon region

LMC Brasil

Arriving at the little airport of Jí-Paraná and being hotly welcomed by 30 plus degrees.

José was waiting for me by the exit to take me to his home. There Rose and their three children welcomed me into the family with much affection.

Rose works at the Padre Ezequiel Ramin Institute where they pursue several projects that attempt to keep alive the legacy of Fr. Ezequiel of justice for all.

We had a short time to visit the institute and learn about their activities. They are undergoing some changes, but they will soon be at 100%.

LMC Brasil

During these days I had the opportunity to visit an indigenous village of the Arara. Rose worked for over 12 years in the pastoral of the indigenous people. She knows all the families and wanted to show me some of the real situations. We spent a morning there visiting the families of the village, talking and laughing with them.

Very often in Brazil their land is invaded, access to education and health care is complicated and the lumber companies attempt to appropriate as much as they can. They say that also the arrival of television has brought about many changes in a short time.

Rose, a CLM living in the area for the past 14 years comments that the Amazons is an area where everyone come to take something away, be it from the land or from the people.

Her husband, José, works in the pastoral of the land. He as well tells me of the many problems of occupation, such as of those who are looking for the rights to their land and some who turn it into a business, the violence with the landowners and other types of violence.

He is carrying on an activity along the lines of Fr. Ezequiel Ramin, a Comboni Missionary murdered 30 years ago. He tells me about the farmers’ movements that are pushing for an agrarian reform, to obtain land for the small farmers. He speaks of the invasion and destruction of the Amazon Basin by economic interests, of the gunmen who keep on killing and on making leaders who make them uncomfortable disappear.

He tells me about some of the cases followed, documented and helped by the pastoral of the land, not all of them, because not everyone acts in a proper way. This is an activity that is not looked upon in a positive way by many and that becomes difficult.

LMC Brasil

We came close to an encampment, but, just as he suspected, it had already been abandoned because of the pressure they were under. We avoided going to other places that were in a situation of conflict. I am sending you some pictures of the abandoned camp.

I am very grateful to the entire family that has allowed me to be part of their life for a few days. I cannot forget to give thanks to God for the life of commitment and service to the most needy by our CLM in Brazil.

LMC Brasil

Today will be a long day of travel. Starting at 8:00 in the morning by road to Porto Velho and then continuing the journey at 2:00AM by plane to Imperatriz by way of Brazilia, then more night travel up to Açailândia.



On the way to Ipê Amarelo

LMC Brasil

At four in the morning I am already on my way to the airport with Cristian, as his brother and nephew are taking us. I keep meeting hospitality and availability wherever I go.

Cristina has decided to accompany us for a few days to Ipê Amarelo, Belo Horizonte, Besides the years in the Amazons area among the indigenous people,  she was also in mission with this community as formator and coordinator of the group. So I have the good fortune of her company and teaching and with Lourdes, we will be able to talk during these days.

LMC Brasil

Fr. Joaquín, a Comboni Missionary of the community of Contagem, where Ipê Amarelo is located, and Lourdes came to meet us and we ate at the Comboni community.

LMC Brasil

In Ipê Amarelo we have a house for formation and mission. They are connected with the Comboni house, a point of reference for various social programs involved in the community such as psychological care, health care and alternative medicine, women’s groups, children programs, cultural activities, handicrafts and recycling…


Besides this more formal part of the activity, a lot more is given by the community in accompanying and visiting families in the community, going house to house greeting one by one. I had the good fortune to spend these days visiting together with Cristina and Lourdes, sometime together and sometime separately. It was a precious time. To see how people appreciate them, know their lives, their history, their worries and how in conversation the normal every day worries surface and they, always attentive, take mental notes, advise, help and/or take notes in order to return home to think how they could help.

LMC Brasil

We had Mass with the community, where I was introduced and welcome together with Cristina. Then Lourdes organized a meal with lots of people who are close to the CLM. Among others there were Tere and Alejo and their daughters, who cooperate a lot in the formation of the CLM and lead a beautifully committed life, Vanesa who was in Mozambique with the CLM, with her husband and her little daughter, Adelia who is a CLM very involved in social issues such as APAC and others, all told about 30 people.

We were also able to visit the mother and the sister of Marcelo, a CLM whom I will meet later in Balsas. I am enchanted by this family spirit that embraces the CLM.

LMC Brasil

The next day we found the time to go with Adelia, another CLM from Petrolândia which is about a half hour away, to visit Ouro Preto. It is a colonial town from where the Portuguese were excavating the gold mines with the work of Black slaves from Africa.

LMC Brasil

Later in Mariana we ate with Paulinha, the CLM’s lawyer. She tells us about the struggle facing them, starting with the break of the dam and the responsibilities of the mining companies that keep on exploiting the area. It is an ecological disaster to which one must add the destruction of humble villages with loss of human lives for not having foreseen the events and let people know. Naturally, they try to wash their hands of it, taking no responsibility and persecute those who fight for the people by accusing them of providing bad coverage that chases away tourists from the area.

LMC Brasil

The next day we went to Itauna to visit an APAC. Can you imagine a prison where the prisoners have the keys to everything? Our visit to the prison was guided by two “recovering” [the prisoners are so called in general because they are all undergoing recovery. They are all called by name and wear a tag with the name on it.] They showed us both the semi-open system and the enclosed system. The only thing, in order to pass from one side to the other there was an agent present while the “recoverings” were opening the door.

It is a prison system that costs 1/3 of the normal one, has lots of volunteers and a community that is involved. Recidivism is 28%, compared with 85% in the rest of the country and 75% globally.

LMC Brasil

We ate with the prisoners of the locked up part: salad, mashed pumpkin, rice, beans and chicken lasagna. In the afternoon we spent time talking with Valdeci [the CLM who is the coordinator of the various APAC, more than 60 in Brazil and with others being opened in other countries]

LMC Brasil

I do not want to linger any further but I am giving you a link to our blog where recently we published an issue on the prize he recently received as an executive (there you will also find more about APAC)

The next morning another very early rising and again back to the airport on the way to Rondônia.



Time in Curitiba

LMC Brasil

The trip to Curitiba became a little heavy, traveling at night with your knees wedged into the seat in front of you is not really comfortable. But, as Cristina says, it is one of disadvantages we tall people have.

Cristina, a Brazilian CLM and member of the central committee, andAlex, a Comboni postulant, took me to the postulancy where I will stay these days.

Since Cristina was busy, I went with the Comboni community to a lecture on a thesis about the decree ad gentes and an experience with the Pokot of Uganda. As you can see, in this mission trip there is a little bit of everything.

Later in the afternoon I was able to go see Guilherma, a Brazilian CLM who did a lot of work in Mozambique. She is in poor health. We hope she will recover her strength. We spent a good afternoon together, conversing and snacking.

In the evening we attended a formation program on global violence as part of the fraternity campaign of this year in Brazil. It is part of the formation given in the Comboni parish of Curitiba. These were three days of evening formation sessions and they were attended by 110 people. I thought it was marvelous to see this expression of a Church being formed and attempting to be involved in the reality in which it lives, looking for answers. This sort of thing is not easily seen elsewhere.

But not everything is meetings and gatherings. The following morning they took me to visit the botanical gardens of Curitiba. There was time to share with the community of the postulancy and to visit the city.

In the afternoon I met with part of the CLM group of Curitiba. They took me to see the places where they want to get involved as a group. We spent time with the “catadores.” These are people who gather non-organic garbage, organize it, select it and sell it to make a living. This way they take charge of recycling for the city. They have formed an association to which they want to give a legal form in order to improve their living standards and here is where the local CLM group cooperates.

Later we also visited a community bakery, organized as a cooperative, both as work and as earnings. All this happens in a neighborhood at the periphery of the city (a rather violent one, to be sure). This is another area where our CLM are working and cooperating.

In the evening I was able to get together with the CLM group of Curitiba, and we had time to share about our CLM at the international level, to tell them about what other groups and communities are doing and to answer their questions. It was a good time where we could share the life of our CLM around the world. Let us hope that some will also feel inspired to leave for other places as the Brazilian group has been doing since forever.



A History made of Names


The work we are doing as Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Lay Missionaries in the concrete situation of migration is essentially accomplished by networking with associations, organizations and movements, both ecclesial and social, involved in this area in recognizing and defending the rights of immigrants and refugees.

Since September 2013, the port of Palermo, Sicily, has become part of the line of Mediterranean landing spots where migrants from Africa and other parts arrive. At their arrival we are present to give out kits of clothing, shoes, a bag with a sandwich, an apple and a bottle of water, trying to establish a contact with the new arrivals. We don’t want to be simply a material presence, but we also try to collect information on how people arriving are treated, since they are already burdened by indescribable experiences suffered before or during the journey, and they are totally clueless about what expects them in Italy.

Together with the living, unfortunately, on many occasions, the bodies of those who died at sea have also arrived. From the very beginning, our concern has been to follow these bodies up to a dignified burial in the cemetery of Palermo.


Every year in November, on All Souls Day, civil society joins the representatives of various religions for an interreligious service in their memory. It is an act of solidarity with the victims to denounce the causes of their death, among them the disgusting agreements of Italy, and behind Italy, of Europe with Libya, and other third parties that work to block or reject migrants.

We recognize the spreading of a culture of exclusion. Today, people feel free of any social responsibility, any tie with others, any common objective. It is urgent to focus again on the stories and the lives of migrants in order to stand up to racism and xenophobia, that are based on false assumptions and on information controlled and manipulated by the media. Through activities we promote in schools and in parishes, we present the stories of migrants by retracing the various phases of their journeys: the reasons why they left, their stay in Libya which upends their lives forever, crossing the Mediterranean and their arrival in Italy, where they end up being mere numbers. To go beyond the lies, to recognize and defend the rights of migrants as persons, are all very important steps in the building of an inter-cultural and multi-cultural society.

In cooperation with civic and church organizations we share lodging spaces for the migrants, and welcoming projects with the idea to produce grassroots meetings and a relation with the territory. In the accepting process there are critical stages tied above all to the excessive time they remain in centers of first acceptance and to the small number of special structures or places in the SPRAR. In many cases, the insertions of migrants turns into a veritable “lottery.” To reflect on the migrants means to rethink our social, political and ecclesial structures. It means to have the courage to change the current order of things. Palermo

Finally, the constant element of our presence is the prophetic denunciation of people and institutions who speculate on the hopelessness of the migrants, exploiting their labor, or of those, in the political underbrush, who end up grabbing funds destined for the arrival process.

Calvin wrote, “Any time you build a wall, think of what you leave outside.” What today looks like a protective structure, tomorrow could become a prison. Life develops and grows beyond the wall. But, if fear is contagious, so are courage and hope.
Fr. Domenico Guarino

Palermo, February 2018

Report of the pacific march held by Christians in Kinshasa 21-01-2018


In Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the peaceful march of the Christians was organized on January 19th by the coordinating committee of the catholic laity, for Sunday, January 21st, 2018. By this march, we demanded the government the unfailing application of the agreement of New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2016 as well as the respect of the constitution, pledge stability and national cohesion.

On Sunday, January 21, 2018, when we arrived in our parishes, we saw the strong presence of the Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) encircling our parishes. They were numerous and heavily armed.

At the end of Mass around 09:30 or 10, we started our peaceful march, they tried to disperse us from the first steps made in front of the door of our churches using tear gas and a real bullets… There were some wounded, one of the mates died on the floor after receiving two bullets on the breasts.   We were on the ground holding Rosaries, Bibles, crucifixes and twigs.   15 minutes later we were standing up to take the wounded to the emergency room.   In this huge crowd, facing our executioners, who was able to stand up, dusted our clothes and then continue walking.

There were police roadblocks everywhere at each roadblock, the violence and brutality were stronger, after 45 minutes of walking the police made a barrier in front of us pushing us to turn back, we sang hymns and the priest who was heading the crowd asked the faithful to kneel and pray the Magnificat. In this precise moment, when we all knee on the ground the police began to shoot and throw tear gas in these torrents of smoking they went against the priests, the acolytes and the young people who interfered to this arrest.

And during this time, in our parishes the priests had advised against the participation in walking to people who were very old or weak by illness or other reason as well as children.   They were supposed to pray a little while for those who were going to walk and get back home. However, the police imprisoned all these people in the parish; they forcibly closed from the outside all the doors of the parish obliging Christians to stayed in until 13:00.   All these weak people have remained more than 6 hours in the enclosure of the parish without water or food.

On the return of the faithful at the parish to close the march, we have found the Christians close in their own parish. When we attempted to break the padlocks set by the police, not only to release those who were in but also to entered and make the final prayer, the policemen started to shoot and abused the youths, there was a great clash for nearly 30 minutes. Then people would run in all directions always under police fire, trying to follow up on those who were arrested, those who were taken home injured, others were wounded and taken to hospitals… The day was restless until 4 pm and after it was cold and anguished, around 7 pm they removed their barriers.

News from Kinshasa


We leave here an email from Congo about the current situation in the country.

Good evening Alberto,

I did not follow up on the document I requested and I did not call you back because here the weekend of the 31st it was complicated for the Catholics because of the march of the laity against the political situation of the country.

In our parish during the 6 o’clock mass at which I participated, the soldiers entered the church at 7 am just at the time of the homily. They threw tear gas and put themselves in front of the exits of the church then shot with real ammunition. We were trapped in the church for 30 minutes. Then the priests organize themselves to keep us safe in the sacristy.

Then an hour after the priest took over the mass. We ended around 11am then we started our walk, despite the situation.

At every barrier we passed, the police tried to intimidate us with brutality to try to disperse us. When they got close, we knelt or threw to the floor and sang songs to Maria. They were trying to take part of the people and beat the group. After 45 minutes of walking, two military buses arrived, began firing tear gas and the air became unbearable. The shock was terrible. The priest stood holding the crucifix in his hand. They were heavily armed and they did not flinch. Then we prayed the Magnificat, when we finished the priest turned around and we finished the march in the parish st Charle Lowanga at 13h.

There were several wounded and some dead. I myself am wounded in the legs and therefore in medical rest since Monday.

Thank you for praying for our country, we have hope in you.


Les manifestants devant la police le 31/12/2017 à Kinshasa lors de la marche initiée par le Comité laïc de coordination (CLC). Radio Okapi/Ph. John Bompengo