Thursday 27 November 2014

Balaka (Malawi) - Village traditional chiefs say "No!" to death penalty

On Saturday, November 22, the Community of Sant’Egidio gathered several village chiefs from three Malawian districts, in the country’s city of Balaka, for a meeting entitled “No to death penalty - no justice without life”. The meeting was intended to raise awareness among Malawian local authorities and civil society on the need to oppose the death penalty.
Malawi’s legal system provides for judicial authorized killing as punishment for certain crimes, even though there has been a de facto moratorium on executions for many years. Malawian village heads, who have repeatedly argued about the importance of keeping in force the death penalty, are held however, in high regard in the country’s rural areas, for in addition to having a certain degree of legislative power within their respective villages, they also enjoy representation in Parliament.
This meeting, which brought together several members of the local Community of Sant’Egidio and around 30 village heads from the districts of Balaka, Liwonde and Mangochi, took place in an atmosphere of open dialogue. The debate began with a report by Mark Tengani, head of Sant’Egidio in Balaka, wherein he illustrated the Community’s commitment in recent years, particularly through its movement “Cities for Life”, to the abolition of Malawi’s capital punishment. While initial arguments in support of lawful executions were proposed by various Traditional Authorities, the legal and moral discussions in favor of abolition ultimately persuaded all participants on the need to seek the legislative withdrawal of the death penalty in the Republic.

Friday 21 November 2014

The Schools of Language and Culture of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a journey of integration and encounter

Over the past days we celebrated, with moments of festiveness, testimony and debate, the 30 years of the School of Language and Culture of the Community of Sant’Egidio in many locations in Europe in which local ecclesial entities are engaged in this service for the integration of the “new Italians” and the “new Europeans”. In Rome, Naples, Novara, Barcelona, etc., we focused on a history of friendship and inclusion in favor of the many who
have recently arrived in Europe from the South of the world, but also of the citizens of the Old Continent.
In fact, schools not only represent a key for accessing the new world to be explored by the migrant, and facilitate his search for a job and a more decent accommodation. Schools are also the main instrument thanks to which we are able to go beyond our differences, discover similarity in otherness, and find a common meeting ground that keeps away the temptations and risks of contraposition. School is the front on which the battle for integration and coexistence is won among men and women that are different and live in a global world and in liquid times.
The following words were used by Pope Francis in last Sunday’s Angelus, which made reference to the tensions among residents and immigrants recently recorded in Rome and other cities: “The Christian community must endeavor in a concrete way to insure that there be encounter and not confrontation. It is possible to dialogue and listen, make plans together, and thus to overcome suspicion and prejudice and build a coexistence that is ever more safe, peaceful and inclusive.” These words are the precious indication of a journey based on common sense and wisdom. Instead of staying behind to poison the wells of coexistence it is time to set ourselves on a path that may restore social fabric and prospective to the daily life in difficult urban contexts such as those of the larger European cities.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

A book on the life and death of Floribert Bwana Chui

It has just been published a book on the life and death of Floribert Bwana Chui, a member of the Community of Sant’Egidio of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, who stood firmly in July 2007 against a proposal of corruption in order not to let some unhealthy food pass
the border and be distributed among the population: “The price of two clean hands”
Floribert Bwana Chui was a young believer, outgoing and optimistic, living adulthood in the Democratic Republic of Congo just emerging from civil war. Before graduation from college, he knew the Community of Sant'Egidio and was fascinated, so as to arouse in Goma a local community, rooted in prayer and service to the poor. He was particularly passionate about the world of street children. Floribert believed that he and the other members of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Goma could be the prophets of love and gratuitousness, the heralds of a new perspective, a new way of thinking. Active in politics, he dreamt of an intercultural society in which all peoples can live in peace. At the age of 25 started to work in the Congolese Agency ensuring the quality of goods in and out of the country.
Floribert wanted to work with integrity, despite living in one of the most violent and corrupt  context in the world. When some people offered him thousands of dollars to accept a lot of rotten rice passing the border, the young man refused. And continued to do so even when threats followed. "As a Christian I can not allow it; better to die, than to risk people's lives," he said. His ethics prevented him from ceding to those offers and threats. But it meant the death for him.
Martyr of integrity in face of corruption, Floribert shows a way of redemption for Congo and Africa.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo - A “yes” to life that needs to come from the people and the younger generations

Pope Francis stated this past October 23rd: “We live in times in which… people are instigated towards violence and revenge, both public and private [and] there is a tendency to deliberately create enemies. [But] it is impossible to imagine that States today have no means other than the death penalty to defend other people’s lives from an aggressor. The arguments against the death penalty are many and are well known. The Church has appropriately emphasized some of them. All Christians and people of good will are therefore called today to fight … for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, in all its forms.”
The Community of Sant’Egidio, as is well known, has been fighting for some time against
the death penalty. It does so by promoting public awareness campaigns - such as the “Cities for Life” campaign - aimed at winning over the hearts and minds to a more general repudiation of violence, revenge and scapegoating. 
Work of this kind is precious everywhere but it is even more important in Africa where unfortunately, in addition to legal executions, which are actually rare, we record many cases of extrajudicial killings and lynchings. 
Therefore the community of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched a campaign to mobilize people in support of life and against any form of violence, whether perpetrated by the state or carried out from below, by the people.
The campaign started by involving the younger generations which represent the future of the country and of the continent, a future that we all hope will be less violent and more friendly to life and human rights. Many high school students together with their parents
participated in conferences on the death penalty in Bagira, a location near Bukavu, discussing ways to create and spread a new culture of life.