Dominican Speaks at Catholic Peacebuilding Conference
Chuck Dahm, OP (St. Albert)
DAME, IN May 14, 2008-- A few weeks ago I participated in a conference
of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network at the University of Notre
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
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, (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.