Third Franciscan Seminar on Dialogue
The Third Franciscan Seminar on Dialogue took place within the context of Latin America. It focused on intercultural dialogue under the theme, “Urban Contexts: Indigenous and Black Migrations in Latin America” and took place in Cali, Colombia, from February 20-24, 2012.
Convened by the Committee for Dialogue of the Order, brothers representing different Latin American Conferences and members of the Commission itself, from different backgrounds of the world, gathered on this day to participate in this event of vital importance for evangelization and formation.
Br. Alvaro Cepeda, ofm, Member of the Commission for Dialogue and Rector of the University of Cali, coordinated the preparation of the meeting with the assistance of the brothers of his Province. He marked the opening of the Seminar and presented the coordinates that would guide it. Br. Roger Marchal, ofm, President of the Commission for Dialogue, gave a general reflection on dialogue in its various dimensions. The speakers were: Dr. Helwar Figueroa who spoke on Migration, Displacement, and Urbanization in Latin America: A New Religious Significance; Br. Mario Rafael Toro, OFM, on Urban Pastoral Ministry in the Contexts of Displacement, Fr. Antonio Bonanomi, BMI, on Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue in Indigenous Communities of Northern Cauca, Fr. Venanzio Mwangi Munyiri, BMI, on African Descent Identities and Exclusion, Br. Nestor Schwerz, OFM, on his experience of the Jubilee celebration of the “Spirit of Assisi” in 2011, and Franciscan Sr. Alba Estela Barreto who, in addition to sharing her experience and service in a community of African descent migration in Cali, led us in a very interesting visit of the area.
We wish to share the following aspects that were highlighted as a form of mutual and permanent animation in the process of evangelization and formation of the Order:
1. The cities today are diverse and plural but excluding; they hierarchize and marginalize. Considered as places of refuge, the cities attract farmers, indigenous, Afros, and those displaced by many conflicts and, therefore, in search of better living conditions. They are new citizens facing an urban world that forces them to radically transform their ways of communicating and re-appropriating their space.
2. We need to make all brothers and sisters become aware of the urgent need to know the reality of our indigenous and African descent brothers living today who, among other problems, are going through the dilemma of migration and displacement. This requires a pastoral differential to make visible the invisible, through dialogue, thus responding to their own realities.
3. To ignore the reality of these marginalized groups, particularly the Afro and Indigenous, in the city and outside of it, and even more, not to be engaged in this work as Franciscans, means not having understood that the option for the poor is not an option but a duty because it is an integral part of our spirituality.
4. We are called to grow in a culture of dialogue by which we are able to contemplate the reality of the other who is different, in order to know how to dialogue and discern; to enable us to propose, not impose; to turn our eyes to our minority and the ability to be “ourselves” from the perspective of fraternity.
5. It’s time to look at ourselves and be able to enter a process of change that helps us to experience growth that go beyond the stages of co-existence, cohabitation, and knowledge and ultimately reach a real communion. It is not enough, moreover, to have knowledge of the one who is next to me, or to accept that the other who is different from; one must, above all, discover the other in me for there to be a true communion.
6. Together with the Church of Latin America and drawing from the richness of our own Charism, we make a strong appeal to all the brothers of the Order to “decolonize the mind” (Document of Aparecida n. 96) in order to believe that a new world is possible.
7. As brothers from different latitudes of the planet, we pledge to work seriously on the path of dialogue with believers and unbelievers alike because we are convinced that this strengthens our faith, brings us closer, and makes us more fraternal with the other who is unknown to us. We know that, as lesser brothers, we are also called to bear witness to reconciliation and peace and to encourage dialogue against intolerance and violence of the modern world, especially toward indigenous peoples and Afros, who are marginalized minorities throughout Latin America and the world. We make an urgent appeal to rid our lives of all forms of conscious and unconscious racism within and outside of our walls, so that, free from all prejudice, we can go out and meet the other who is different from me.
We express our gratitude to the Province of Santa Fe for their hospitality, the brothers who organized the event with efficiency, and all the participants for enriching the event by their sharing.
May the Lord give you Peace!
Cali, February 25, 2012