We continue this series with Brother Aristides Holgado. Born in Madrid, Aristides was going to be an architect until he was assigned to Mozambique by the Comboni Missionaries. He arrived six months after their independence from Portugal and lived through the civil war that ravaged the country for 15 years. In his interview, Aristides speaks openly about issues such as the quality of democracy, communism and capitalism in the African country and the war.
As Christians, as missionaries, we cannot watch calmly from our windows as the global economic system evolves, putting at risk food security and the effective rights of more and more populations. Faced with the complexity of this terrain, we need a minimum of training in these issues.
The Comboni Missionary Giulio Albanese, a journalist specializing in the field of economics, led the reflection on Economy: Land of Mission, at the meeting of the Comboni Lay Movement of Europe, which was attended last Saturday by participants from Poland, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Spain, as well as the CLM coordinator of Brazil, Flavio Schmidt. The anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers, which reshaped geopolitics, and the Time of Creation, in which the Christian confessions unite every year to pray, celebrate and act for the Common Home, were the framework for this initiative.
Albanese started from the recent historical process that has shaped the current landscape of the global economic system, initiated at the Breton Woods conference at the end of World War II. Along the way, the financial economy has progressively grown and distanced itself from the real economy. The latter is based on the fact that human labor creates wealth, while the financial economy is based on the fact that money itself generates wealth. The crisis that began in 2008 revealed the consequences of an economic system in which speculative financial products, such as derivatives, represent an economic flow of between 10 and 15 times the global GDP. Another worrying element is that the debt of the states, which is weighing down the economies of the southern communities in particular, is financialized and therefore subject to the uncertainties of the market. Government debt has become a financial product that is bought and sold, generating profits for other investors.
As a proposal to combat the flagrant issue of international debt, a legal document was launched from Italy at the end of the last century, within the framework of the Jubilee 2000, supported by the UN Commission on Human Rights, to argue that the international debt mechanism is contrary to human rights, so that its agreements could be denounced before the Court of the Hague.
The speaker shared from his missionary experience in Ethiopia how, while famine threatens the population, the state accumulates grain in warehouses to offer it to global agribusiness (which fixes its price on the Chicago Stock Exchange) and thus pay the interest on its debt. In another example, he denounced the risk of common goods, such as health, being controlled only by the market, which means that while in the North we are moving towards the third dose of the COVID19 vaccine, in Africa only 1% of the population has the second dose.
The Church has generated abundant reflection in the various social encyclicals, since Rerum Novarum at the end of the 19th century, and the magisterium of Pope Francis stands out for placing the poor and discarded person at the center, not as a pastoral object, but as a theological subject: God is incarnated in the poor. The concept of development, linked to technology and profit, must be replaced by that of progress, which refers to the person and his or her social aspect. In the face of a complex issue, such as the economic system, it is not possible to give a magic answer but, as Francis insists, to participate and initiate transformative processes.
In this context, Albanese proposed not to demonize the market, but to coexist with it and promote alternative economies from within, as the Vatican initiative of the Economy of Francis and Clare has been promoting. Not to promote a mystique of misery, which only promotes sharing the suffering of communities without taking another step. The Social Economy is a field with great development, in which companies arise whose objective is not to generate profits, but to solve people’s problems. The microcredits promoted by the Nobel Prize winner M. Yunus are a tool, as well as Ethical Banking (Fiare, Coop 57, Triodos…). We must also promote laws that can redirect business actions, because the deregulation promoted by liberalism leaves communities in the hands of unscrupulous companies. The European alliance of ecclesial entities CIDSE is working on this corporate regulation.
For religious congregations there is the task of responsibly reviewing in which initiatives they invest their resources. We currently have two divestment campaigns underway. The Laudato Si’ movement promotes divestment from companies that favor fossil fuels, while the Churches and Mining network, in which the CLM and the Comboni Missionaries of Brazil participate, seeks divestment from mega-mining companies, which threaten populations and the environment. And to bet on an integral evangelization in which the promotion of social transformation is present. The recent Map of Comboni social ministries presents examples of this type.
For the Comboni lay movement there would be the task of deepening how our lifestyles contribute to underpinning the global financial system or to come up with alternatives. The CLM in Italy has been working in this direction with an important prophetic component. In Spain, the platform Connected Yourself for Justice, in which the Comboni NGO AMANI participates, has also proposed to reflect in this sense. It is also necessary that we feel that we can influence the policies that can control the economic-financial system, from our closest family and parish environments, to the decision-making bodies, participating in actions together with organized platforms. In this sense, last year several CLM participated in a training on political advocacy promoted by the REDES platform.
The meeting concluded with a dialogue among the participants to advance in our formation as CLM and to strengthen ties with the rest of the Comboni Family in this area.
On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, Comboni missionary and journalist Fr. Giulio Albanese MCCJ addresses the theme of the civil economy in the webinar “Economy, land of mission”, promoted by the European Coordination of Comboni Lay Missionaries. Albanese reveals the mechanisms of the “shadow banking” system, one of the main culprits of the increasingly insurmountable gap between the North and the South of the world, further aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We apologize for the technical problems inherent to a live broadcast to several countries and different internet connection speeds.
On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the Comboni missionary and journalist Fr. Giulio Albanese MCCJ will talk about civil economy in the webinar “Economy, land of mission “, promoted by the European Coordination of Comboni Lay Missionaries. The meeting, in line with the “The Economy of Francesco” project, will be broadcast in live streaming, with simultaneous translations in English and Spanish, on Saturday 11 September from 10 am to 1 pm on the youtube channel of the Comboni Missionaries:
The recording of the meeting will later be available on the same channel.
Starting from a geopolitical analysis of the European continent, Fr. Albanese will reveal the mechanisms of the shadow banking system, one of the main causes of the increasingly unbridgeable gap between the North and the South of the world, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The missionary will then reflect on the theme of solidarity, understood as the co-responsibility of citizens, believers and non-believers, in combating social exclusion and in taking care of the “res publica”, or the “common home” of humanity. The reference to the words of Pope Francis is clear, “ours is not an era of changes, but a change of era”.
Hence the crucial question: is it possible to reconcile business with the demands of the common good for a more equitable, just and supportive society?
The answer is yes and this is the key message of the webinar: appeal to citizenship, and in particular to the Comboni Lay Missionaries, so that we take care of the common goods together with local administrations, an invitation already sanctioned by the Italian Constitution in the last paragraph of the art. 118, based on the “principle of subsidiarity”.
“What to do then in practice, thinking above all of the needs for development and progress in the peripheries of the planet?” – asks Fr. Albanese – “It is clear that the missionary world must take the field, evangelizing even in the economic area. We need consecrated persons and lay people who are able to study new strategies as hoped for by Pope Francis in the historic summit of young economists in 2020 in Assisi ”.
Hence the really concrete proposal, from the point of view of the real economy, of an innovative model that involves civil society, the so-called “social business”. The objective of the model, conceived by the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus (1940), Bengali economist and creator of modern microcredit, is the creation of enterprises with social purposes to be conceived and run as real companies, but with the imperative of social advantage instead of profit maximization. Keywords? Sustainability and the concept of shared wellbeing, never exclusive.
The meeting will continue in private form the afternoon, from 5 to 7 pm, as a laboratory for the European and extra-European Comboni Lay Missionaries, invited to reflect on the teachings of Fr. Albanese and the real opportunities to put the Yunus model into practice.
Father Giulio Albanese MCCJ (Rome, 1959) is a member of the Congregation of Comboni Missionaries and a journalist. He directed the New People Media Center in Nairobi and founded the Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA) in 1997. Author of 15 books published by houses such as Feltrinelli, Einaudi, EMI Editrice Missionaria Italiana, Messaggero di Padova, he collaborates with numerous newspapers and radios, including L’Osservatore Romano, Avvenire, Radio Vaticana, Giornale Radio Rai, apart from previous collaborations with BBC, CCN, Radio Svizzera Italiana. He has taught Missionary Journalism and Alternative Journalism at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome and has directed the missionary magazines of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Popoli e Missione and Il Ponte d’Oro). In 2003 the Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi awarded him the title of Grand Officer of the Italian Republic for journalistic merits in the South of the world. Since January 2018 he is also editor-in-chief of the Amici di Follereau magazine. He is a member of the Committee for charitable interventions in favor of Third World countries of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) and host of broadcasts and forums on issues related to Africa and the South of the world. He carries out his pastoral ministry in the Regina Pacis parish of Fiuggi.
Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM)
They are men and women of all ages – individuals, couples and families – inspired by the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and the charism of his disciple St. Daniel Comboni (Limone sul Garda, 1831 – Khartoum, 1881). They live off their work and set up choices and lifestyles at the service of justice and peace and respecting the environment. They are part of the Comboni Family together with the Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Secular Missionaries. Along with them, they are committed to carry out the Comboni project “Regenerating Africa with Africa” (1864) through periods of voluntary service in the South of the world (“missio ad gentes”) or where they live and work every day (“missio intra gentes”). CLM are present in Europe (Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain), in Africa (Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Togo, Uganda) and in the North, Central and South America (Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, United States).
We continue this series with Fr. Jaime Calvera, a Comboni Missionary who arrived in South Africa for the first time in 1985, a country to which he dedicated his work until he was recalled to Spain. In this interview he tells us with special enthusiasm about his experiences in projects such as the Mamelodi choir, which came to fruition despite the harsh social context of the country, and also introduces us to the Ubuntu philosophy.
(Interview in Spanish)
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