REBAC - REPAM meeting

On November 17-22nd, Rigobert Minani SJ, the director JASCNET, was part of a delegation of the Catholic Church in Africa in an exchange program between Ecclesial Network of the Congo Basin Forest (REBAC) and the Red Eclesial PanAmazonica (REPAM) in Brazil. The objective was to share in experiences on protection and conservation of forests in the world.

He also attended the Latin American and Caribbean Encounter of Integral Ecology “Disciples Missionaries Custodians of Creation” seminar in Quito, Ecuador in November 23rd. The theme of the encounter was “Disciples Missionaries custodians of the common home”. This was a discernment in the light of the encyclical Laudato Si.

Over 250 delegates attended this seminar.

The encounter addressed issues of human right, development model, climate change, the church and mineral governance, resilience and adaptation and climate change.

Among the attendees were more than 20 bishops, more than 15 Jesuits of Latin America and the Vatican was also represented.

The objective of the encounter is to foster a space for meeting and articulation between different ecclesial actors interested in caring for the common home to encourage, deepen and guide the meaning and implications of Integral Ecology in the various evangelizing processes. This objective was inspired by the Encyclical Laudato Si

On the first day it was said that “Integral ecology is grounded in Jesus Christ and it needs immediate action.”This issue cannot wait until tomorrow as it will be too late....” There is need for conversion for those who are indifferent to this ecological issue on our common home. If we don’t feel it... we cannot act on it. Laudato Si is therefore a strong critic of those who do not believe in climate change and its effects on all creation.

REPAM for Latin America and REBAC in Africa are Kairos initiatives, that is, they are actions and initiatives of the future. These organizations represent an opportune time to deal and address ecological issues.

“REPAM and REBAC, says bishop Barretto, president of REPAM, are very important for life in the world”. This is echoed in Laudato Si number 38…which emphasizes that “Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity. At the end he says: “We should then walk singing for these initiatives are inspired by God”.

The key Words in Laudato Si are:

  • human being at the center
  • Common home
  • One crisis that is environmental
  • Need for dialogue


Madre Terra Celebration (Mother Earth Celebration)

The second day of the encounter on integral ecology started with a 2 hours celebration of “Madre Terra” that is “Mother Earth”. This was lead by representatives of the indigenous people. Women play a greater role in this celebration and the main celebrant was a woman.

All the participants gathered around a tree with many symbols around it. Among the symbols was the Maya calendar. The recognition of the value of the elements around the tree was followed by songs and incantation. Lastly, the celebration was followed by drinking different beverages made from forest products.

The aim of this celebration was to connect participants with nature. “Madre terra” is made up of the earth, the rivers, the flowers, the trees, the birds, the animals, people… etc. Human beings are part of nature and destroying nature is destroying life itself.

This celebration was an eye opener for most participants. Many of them believe that they now have a better understanding of the message of Pope Francis in Laudato Si.

As a way forward REBAC needs to investigate in the African spirituality for symbols that connect with nature so as to better popularize the encyclical Laudato Si.

To promote integral ecology communities need to organize different forms of activities to popularize Laudato Si. The Church of Africa can learn from the different experiences of others how to put into practice the encyclical Laudato Si. These experiences enrich Laudato Si to be truly what is supposed to be Praise be to you my Lord.