Building peace in the 21st Century

The theme for this year’s UNIV Congress, “Building peace in the 21st century,” coincided with a particularly agitated international situation. The activities organized in connection with the Congress, both in Rome and in other parts of the world, gave rise to clarifying discussions about the Pope’s recent statements on peace.

Creston College in the University of New South Wales, Sydney, held a three day conference for Australian university women, with participants from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The event, which took place during Holy Week, centered on the contribution that each person could make to the “building up of peace.” One of the basic premises was the need to view peace as a consequence of the struggle that each person carries on interiorly with oneself, a struggle that then overflows to influence interpersonal relationships. Among the conclusions emphasized was the importance of true friendship as a path to peace.

A university society dedicated to social service activities presented a study entitled “Building peace through service.” Based on data that emerged from interviews with their fellow students, another group prepared some “Reflections of young people on the four pillars of peace according to John Paul II: Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom.” In addition, a group working in the medical field centered their study on the topic of “Peace in the face of suffering.”

At the Alcorce Cultural Center in Chiclayo, Peru, a colloquium was organized on “The Limits of a Just War.” The university women who took part in it considered, in the light of the teachings of John Paul II, the events that were taking place in the Middle East.

Father Eutiquiano Saldón reflected on the ethical dimension of war and analyzed the posture of the Holy See in regard to the war in Iraq.

The young women who took part in this activity also discussed the international panorama, the social context of the conflict and the potential for future hostilities. “Peace is always built on justice, freedom, solidarity and truth,” one of the participants affirmed, echoing the teachings of the Pope on the “pillars of peace.”

Two congresses were held in Costa Rica on the topic of “building peace in the 21st century,” one of them for high school boys and another for university students.

From April 14 to 19 the Kamuk Boys Club organized a congress at the Agricultural School in Guapiles, which was attended by forty boys from all over Central America. The welcoming speech was given by Ramon Yglesias, former Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade.

In San Jose, the capital, the Miravalles University center held a congress during Holy Week that was attended by university students from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Its objective was to analyze the social and political setting of the Middle East countries involved in conflict and to go more deeply into the position of the Holy See on the question of the armed conflict in Iraq.

Rodolfo Piza, former alternate ambassador to the UN, discussed the antecedents of the war and the policies of the various countries in light of international law. José J. Chaverri, director of the Diplomatic School, commented on the encyclical Pacem in Terris of Blessed John XXIII. Alberto Dahik, an economist and politician, explained the cultural and political context of the countries in conflict. Ramon Yglesias dedicated a session to the recent doctrinal note of the Holy See on the participation of the lay faithful in political life.

More than two hundred university students took part in the UNIV 2003 Forum at the Guadaira Student Residence in Seville, which had the same title as the UNIV Congress (“Building peace in the 21st century”). In the introductory session, the Attorney General spoke on the topic of justice and globalization, after which twenty-two written reports were presented. There was also a presentation of a video entitled Huancavelica al Sur: si no estás aquí tampoco lo vivirás allí. This was an audiovisual report on a work camp carried out by volunteers from a local non-governmental organization. The work camp took place in Huancavelica, one of the least developed areas of Peru.

The Rigel Cultural Center in Yaoundé, Cameroon, organized a seminar on “Peace in the 21st Century,” which took place on May 3 in the amphitheater of the School of Science and Technology of Communication.

The first address, “Legal positivism: a menace to peace,” clarified the need for positive law to be in accord with natural law, and emphasized that the role of law is not to state what is being done, but to help to do what is right. Mention was also made of the need to resist unjust laws.

“Solidarity, a factor in peace” and “Education for peace: the role of the family and society” were the titles of the two presentations that followed the introductory address. All three of the presentations were by students who take part in activities at Rigel.

The seminar was moderated by Professor Innocent Futcha, from the University of Yaoundé.

Romana, n. 36, January-June 2003, p. 0.

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