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Rationale Statement of the Carmelite Commission For Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation

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We, the members drawn from the various branches of the Carmelite Family to constitute the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Carmelite Order, met for our inaugural meeting at the Curia Generalizia, Roma, from 11-15 September 2014.

Our deliberations, sharing and dialogue from our diverse and rich contextual experiences were frank and sincere. We committed ourselves for the duration of this sessennium (2013-2019), to focus on helping Carmelite brothers and sisters in sensitizing, animating and participating in the promotion of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation throughout the Carmelite Family. We drew up our strategic plan which is an instrument for us to help our communities and especially those working in the ministry of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation to deepen their reflection, promote advocacy of pertinent issues and motivate each other to appropriate context-based action.

We recognize that action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world is a constitutive dimension of preaching the Gospel.[1] The whole ministry of Jesus and his return to the Father can be seen as geared towards the building up of the Kingdom of God - through proclamation, attitude and action - which is essentially a reign of justice and truth, holiness and peace, grace, unity and love. Pope Francis has stressed that, ‘Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society’ and that ‘all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples’[2]

We note that, we, Carmelites from our inception, inspired by Mary in her welcome and contemplative attitude towards the Word, and the Prophet Elijah in his zeal for and living in the presence of the Lord, as people of prayer and community are also people sensitive to the needs of those around us true to our Mendicant roots. In the post-Vatican II era, we recognize that a lot of reflection took place at such fora as the Council of Provinces and General Congregation and General Chapters. One of the most significant development has been an openness to justice and peace issues. For example, the Order has reflected on issues of poverty and our need to identify with the poor: In the Midst of the People[3], A Return to the Sources[4], Called to Account by the Poor[5]. We recognize that our world has become more complex and grave challenges have arisen that threaten the very existence of creation. Some of those challenges include loss of biodiversity, which is currently a thousand times higher than natural extinction rate[6]; energy depletion, which means that we are consuming more than we need and the current possibility for the earth to recover[7]; climate change, which is currently affecting millions of people worldwide through extended droughts in some areas and sea level rise and floods in other areas[8]; and global population growth with a distinctive pattern of unequal affluence, deeply interconnected with the previous issues[9]. We propose that we Carmelites, rooted in our 800 year-old tradition of brotherhood, of intimacy with the Lord God under the contemplative example of Mary and the zealous drive of the Prophet Elijah, renew, rekindle and promote the life-giving values of the Kingdom of God through deeds, advocacy and action.

There are many laudable causes for us to promote but these seem to us to be pressing in the context of our world situation of spiritual apathy, globalization of inequality, injustice, materialist consumerism and growing religious fundamentalism and intolerance. We commit ourselves to promoting, advocating for, and working to change for the better in our localities, the lives of real people in the following areas: human rights from conception to the tomb; community building, understanding and tolerance; promotion of Kingdom values and Carmelite spirituality with special emphasis on right relationship with others and the environment; awareness of environmental change through advocacy and helping communities to respond positively to this.

To help us to have an impression of the work Carmelites are doing in the area of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, we wish to send a questionnaire to all our Provinces, Commissariats and Delegations. The questionnaire is a tool to help us plan for the production of the Carmelite Order’s Handbook on the animation of Justice, Peace and Integrity on Creation. The Carmelite Order has a strong history of meaningful adaptation to changing circumstances so as to be an effective player and contributor to issues. In the face of our contemporary world challenges, may we rise to offer our modest assistance to the world from the Carmelite tradition of respecting all in community, of fostering intimacy with God to be expressed in reaching out in service of the Church and the world. As the 2013 General Chapter Final Statement says: ‘People will be drawn to Christ when they notice our gospel based lives of simplicity, solidarity with the marginalized, celebration of unity in diversity, and the creation of safe environments for the children, teens and adults to whom we minister’[10]. The world needs our faith-based approach to ministry as one avenue of establishing right relationships with God, other human beings and all creation!

 

-         The Carmelite Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (2013-2019)

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 1971.

[2] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Roma: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, nos. 187,  216.

[3] Third Council of Provinces, In the Midst of the People: Small Religious Commuinities and Basic-Communities, Dublin, 1975, in Kevin Mark, O.Carm., ed. Towards Prophetic Brotherhood: Documents of the Carmelite Ordr 1972-1982, Melbourne: The Carmelite Centre, 1984, pp. 43-55

[4] Fifth Council of Provinces, A Return to the Sources: An Examination of the Biblical Significance of Mary and Elijah, 1979, in Kevin Mark, Ibid., pp. 68-81

[5] Order of Carmelites General Congregation, Called to Account by the Poor, 1980, in K.Mark, Ibid.,pp. 81-96

[6] United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Cf. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, Montreal (2010). (http://www.iucn.org).

[7] Cf. World Watch Institute, Green Economy Program, (http://www.worldwatch.org/programs/golbal_economy)

[8] Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), Fifth Assessment Report 2013. (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1).

[9] Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (http://www.fao.org)

[10] ‘A Word of Hope and Salvation (Const. 24)’, in Consilium Generale O.Carm., Global Plan of the General Council 2013-2019, Roma: Edizioni Carmelitane, 20014, pp.8-12, no. 4f.

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven.

 



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