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Burundi Dominican Speaks at Catholic Peacebuilding Conference

Chuck Dahm, OP (St. Albert)

NOTRE DAME, IN May 14, 2008-- A few weeks ago I participated in a conference of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network at the University of Notre Dame.  CPN, founded in 2004, is a voluntary network of practitioners, academics, clergy and laity from around the world that seeks to enhance the study and practice of Catholic peace-building, especially at the local level.

It was an amazing conference, rich in diverse pastoral experience and theory. More than 275 participants from 28 countries attended the conference, including the Philippines, Colombia, India, the United Kingdom, Italty, France and several countries in Africa. Church representatives were also present from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, France, Germany, and USA.  Academics from major US Catholic universities participated and the Jesuits had a strong presence.

Catholic Relief Services played a major role in the conference because it adjusted its focus from almost solely humanitarian relief to peace-building in areas of conflict after the 1990s genocide in Rwanda woke them up to the need to train people for dialog – an amazing organizational shift.  Consequently, CRS is facilitating Church workers in their efforts to build peace.

The conference focus was how the church can and should facilitate peace in areas of conflict, e.g., in the Philippines between Catholics and Muslims, in Africa between warring tribes, in Colombia between the government (paramilitary) and guerrillas. Fascinating and heroic work is being done. 

Special mention goes to the Dominican, Fr. Emmanuel Ntakarutimana, O.P. who founded Centre Ubuntu, (agateka2004@yahoo.fr) whose purpose is to facilitate healing of the widespread trauma and dysfunctional behavior resulting from the genocide in Burundi.  Fr. Emmanuel has a PhD in fundamental theology from Frieburg and a degree is social psychology.  Centre Ubuntu trains facilitators to enter villages to conduct group reflections to rediscover community values, heal memories and reconcile once warring groups.  His centre operates radio programs and a monthly magazine.  The centre focuses on restoring the fundamental cultural values (the meaning of Ubuntu) which is the basis of right moral decision-making and societal health.  Fr. Emmanuel is also the Dominican co-coordinator of peace and justice for Africa.

Related Links:

Fr. Emmanuel Ntakarutimana's remarks on the
Centre Ubuntu, in Burundi.

Visit the website of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network for more photos and other resources.

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