Along the years and in a variety of ways Comboni Missionaries have often been engaged in appropriate activities at the service of justice for the oppressed or relief for the suffering at the local level.
Today the forces that determine the well-being of local populations or determine their future are often global in nature or at least have a strong global component.
The many and enormous challenges facing the developing world today, indeed those facing the whole world, require the commitment and sustained activity of large coalitions of groups and organizations of all kinds, in a way that transcends boundaries and differences, in a pluralistic and diversified society.
As an example, global climate change that is already underway due to the irresponsible overuse of fossil fuels and other sources of “greenhouse gases” (GHG) will have devastating effects on the world’s poorest citizens. Severe weather — including more powerful storms, drought and flooding – will devastate food supplies, force massive migrations of peoples and very likely foment more wars over natural resources such as water and land. No nation acting alone can slow down global climate change. Agencies of the United Nations organize the efforts to address the problem, but the cooperation of every nation in the world is required. Since this is a matter of life or death for countless millions of people, missionaries need to play a role in making the situation known, refuting the deliberate misinformation disseminated by those with vested interests and encouraging cooperation in a common effort.
A global surfeit of weapons and illegal, clandestine commerce in weapons contributes greatly to violence and havoc in Africa and elsewhere.
In April 2013, after decades of advocacy by an enormous coalition of civil society groups, the UN General Assembly approved the Arms Trade Treaty that will put some limits on the scourge. This treaty, though imperfect, could save tens of thousands of lives. Very soon the treaty will go into effect once 50 nations will have ratified it. Then countries will need to incorporate the provisions of the treaty into their laws as well as to dedicate funding and personnel to implementing it. This will not take place automatically. Missionaries who know from experience the horror of the many deaths and mutilations caused by trafficked weapons must advocate for the effective implementation of the treaty. Progress has been made in global efforts to eradicate AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, but advocacy is required to continue and strengthen the multinational funding and services that offer hope for present and future generations. Missionaries with firsthand knowledge of the adverse effects of these diseases must play a role promoting renewed efforts.
The Comboni Missionaries have made commitments to support the advocacy efforts of VIVAT International at the United Nations, the Africa Faith and Justice Network in Washington, DC and the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network in Brussels. Much of the credibility of these organizations is based on the presence of members of religious congregations in very many countries around the world. By sending accurate information to these organizations all of us can better assist the peoples whom we love and serve. (John Converset)