Kony 2012 Video – Considerations for Reflection:
This now-viral youtube video produced by the group Invisible Children has become the most recent cause célèbre and is most likely attracting wide attention across campuses and parishes (both Jesuit and non-Jesuit). The video launched the “Kony 2012” campaign and seems to employ a threefold strategy: information/education, fund-raising/sales and advocacy. As an informational piece, it surely helps to shine a light on the rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army’s legacy of violence in N. Uganda and the region. However, the advocacy request promoted in the video (first applauding/cheering and then encouraging sustained U.S. military presence) diverges from the position expressed by Catholic and Jesuit leaders in the affected region. Here are some of their perspectives:
Africa My Africa: Eastern Africa Jesuit Provincial Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J. expresses concern regarding U.S. troop deployment to dismantle the LRA. Rather than military aid, he suggests humanitarian assistance, “sending teachers, doctors, engineers, experts in agriculture and development — not more soldiers, guns, and ammunition.”
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative: Statement opposing the plan to deploy U.S. military advisors co-signed by the religious leaders of Northern Uganda, including Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu.
Urging Nonviolence in dealing with the Lord’s Resistance Army: Africa Faith and Justice Network analysis (AFJN is a coalition partner with Jesuit Conference).
CRS Take on Kony 2012, part 2: suggests peaceful alternatives and support for poverty focused humanitarian development.
Regarding issues of international advocacy, our way of proceeding considers first and foremost the experience and recommendations of Jesuits and Church leaders living and working in the affecting areas. If members of your university, school or parish are trying to consider how to best interpret the Kony 2012 campaign, please share the resources mentioned above. In addition, the USA Jesuit Conference will soon post a resource page to help groups better understand the fuller context and consider alternative advocacy messages from the views expressed by Invisible Children. Contact John Sealey if you would like periodic updates on this issue or you can monitor the Jesuit Conference page.
Ignatian Solidarity Network News (Human Rights Nomination /// Webinars available)
ISN has been nominated for a people’s choice award by Global Exchange. Click here for Jesuit Conference story. In addition to hosting gatherings and leadership trainings, ISN will begin hosting webinars on topics which may be of interest to its membership. Upcoming webinars will cover: Worker Rights Consortium on March 28 and on March 29 there will be a presentation regarding the upcoming criminal case filed in Spanish Court against 21 former Salvadoran military officers for the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. Details and sign up at ISN webpage.
Korean Jesuit Arrested and Jailed for Peace Action:
The Jesuit Social Apostolate Coordinator for Asia Pacific has dispatched a report written by Fr. Francis Mun-su Park, S.J.
(Korea) who directs the Jesuit Research Center for Advocacy and Solidarity. The preface of the report reads: “Several Korean Jesuits have placed themselves in the caldron of controversy surrounding the construction of a Korean naval base on Jeju Island, a province of South Korea. The controversial issues include whether the base is necessary, whether the planned base would be harmful to Jeju Island (called ‘an island of peace’ and a tourist destination), whether the planned base will heighten military tension in N.E. Asia, whether the national government should beat down local opposition, and whether the construction will destroy irreplaceable environmental treasure. Several Jesuits have been arrested several times for bodily hindering construction work. Brother John Do-hyun Park, S.J. has lived in the village for more than 5 months accompanying the villagers in their opposition to the base.” He was arrested on March 14 and will be held for investigation and trial. Contact John Sealey for the full report with photos. [Note: Author of the report, Fr. Park is originally from the Wisconsin Province but now transcribed to Korea]
Jesuit Conference Advocacy Focus Areas: Every four years, the Jesuit Commission for Social and International Ministries (JCSIM) surveys the USA provinces regarding the advocacy concerns for the Assistancy. This input, taken in consideration with the apostolic frontiers identified by the Society and pending final approval by the Jesuit Conference Board, helps to shape the social and international advocacy focus for the next four years. Please contact John Sealey by March 23 if you are interested in participating in this on-line survey. We hope to get a diverse and representative group of 20 Jesuits and lay colleagues from across various zones of ministry in the province.
Faith Advocates for Jobs will host a national call in 3 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 22. Call-in number is (760) 569-0111 Access code: 1085004#. The call will feature parish congregations based in OH, WI and RI who will share their successful programs and offer suggestions to create similar initiatives. Both the USCCB and Jesuit Conference participate in the work of Faith Advocates for Jobs, an interfaith coalition seeking support for the unemployed and underemployed.
UN World Water Day (March 22): To learn more, click here. You can take a few minutes to consider your own personal water use at the One Drop site. The World Health Organization estimates 2.6 billion people lack safe, reliable and affordable water for their personal and domestic use. Pope Benedict XVI: “the right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life” (Caritas in Veritate, n. 27).