North American Justice Promoters
The meeting of the International Commission of the Dominican Order for Justice and Peace (IDJPC) was held in Nairobi Kenya from 2 to 5 October 2023. Present were the General Promoter, Br Aniedi Okure, and Sr Durstyne Farnan, representative at the United Nations of the Dominican Sisters Conference, together with the regional promoters of the brothers and delegates of the sisters, lay people and the Dominican Youth Movement IDYM from the five continents. For the North American Region, Br Brendan Curran and Sr Reg McKillip were present.
On 2nd Oct., after greetings from the Dominican Family in Kenya, work began with an introduction by the General Promoter, Aniedi Okure, who spoke on some of the challenges of justice and peace on the African continent.
In the afternoon the regional delegates presented reports from the individual regions based on the reports received: Africa, Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and Latin America.
The morning of 3rd Oct. was devoted to a discussion on wars and conflicts in our time, and the delegates of the Dominican Family of Latin America presented material for the month of prayer for peace on the Amazon – December 2023.
In the afternoon there was a discussion on the major challenges of justice and peace in the different regions and the ways in which the Dominican Family can respond.
On 4th Oct. a session was devoted to identifying some of the Commission’s work and commitment goals for the coming year, followed by a report on the Mosaiko project for the promotion of human rights in Angola.
On 5th Oct., the Commission participated in a working session at the UN headquarters in Nairobi dealing with environmental issues.
After a visit to the parish of the Dominican friars of St. Catherine, there was an evaluation of the work and the closure of the meeting.
The annual meeting of the IDJPC was a moment of exchange and knowledge of the commitment of the Order in its various entities around the world and offered opportunities to learn about situations of injustice and suffering together with the many actions and projects underway by the Dominican Family to promote justice, peace and care for creation.
This year, the month of prayer for peace will be dedicated to Amazonia and will be an opportunity to promote moments of prayer, knowledge and solidarity with the Dominican Family in Amazonia, and also to accept Pope Francis’ call for an ecological conversion and a commitment to integral ecology.
Brendan Curran, OP
Reg McKillip, OP
Co-Promoters for North America
Coming Together: The Annual Conference of the North American Dominican Promoters for Justice and Peace
The North American Dominican Justice Promoters held “Coming Together” the Annual Conference on June13-16 in the Chicago area, gathering representatives of the Dominican Family.
First, Margaret Mayce, Coordinator, Dominican Sisters International, highlighted Dominican Sisters in Guatemala, Myanmar, Slovakia, Ukraine and Zimbabwe whose inspired witness in the midst of lands of conflict are like the women at the foot of the cross: “And the women stayed.”
Our dear brother Gerard Timoner, Master of the Order, continued the theme of global relationships by expanding on Margaret’s thoughts. He challenged the Dominican Family to be humble enough to receive and learn from those we serve in all of our ministries as we walk in the footsteps of many wisdom figures and prophetic voices of hope throughout the world.
Our International Justice Promoters at the United Nations also shared with us. We were fortunate enough to have Dusty Farnan, our UN Representative in New York, and Aniedi Okure, General Promoter, with us in person. They concentrated on the three things that affect all Dominicans throughout the world: Climate Change, Migration and War/Nonviolence. Their stories of the peoples’ struggles brought sobering thoughts to the group. They reminded us of our own rich history with the UN- that it was the writings and thoughts of Francisco de Vitoria that laid the foundation for the principles of the United Nations who is honored at the United Nations complex in both New York and Geneva.
In preparation for The Dominican Month of Peace 2023: AMAZONIA, we were treated to a presentation from Mons. David Martinez de Aguirre, Dominican Bishop of Puerto Maldonado, Peru. He gave us many facts about this vast area which encompasses nine countries, the largest river on the continent, numerous forms of animal and plant life and thousands of different indigenous peoples. The Amazonia zone is being destroyed by mining and deforestation. Dominican Sisters and Friars in the Amazon are working with the people there to help empower them to know their rights and assert them. When asked what he hoped the outcome of the Month of Peace focus would be on Amazonia, he smiled and said “I hope you will fall in love with the Amazon.” As preparation for our Month of peace, we encourage you to peruse/review/study the Final Amazon Synod Document from 2019.
We will be providing materials for our preparation as a Dominican Family to honor the 2023 Dominican Month for Peace in the next weeks.
We spent the rest of our time together evaluating our work and its impact on our communities, our Church and our world. We are hopeful that amidst these very trying times – the climate crisis, war, the rise of authoritarian regimes and increased migration – our Dominican family will work toward a justice that reflects truth and love.
Catholic sisters are among thousands of activists raising concerns about the slow progress of COP27 United Nations climate talks, saying that negotiations on the financial aspect — specifically a loss and damage fund — risks the likelihood nations will deliver and build upon climate commitments made in Glasgow last year.
This year’s U.N. climate change conference, taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and scheduled to end Nov. 18, has been expected to address the roles of climate finance, adaptation ambition and implementation of the Paris Agreement.
However, one negotiator told EarthBeat that a major issue of contention in the negotiating rooms is whether there should be a new fund for loss and damage and how any such fund should be allocated.
“We haven’t made any progress so far,” said one delegate, asking not to be named. “We might extend our negotiation until Saturday (Nov. 19) or leave the talks without agreement on the way forward. It’s embarrassing that rich countries are not ready to establish loss and damage funds. They want this discussion extended to the next convening in the United Arab Emirates” in 2023.
Adrian Dominican Sr. Durstyne Farnan carries a placard as she demonstrates at the central area of the conference center in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (EarthBeat photo/Doreen Ajiambo)
“Let’s act now or never. We don’t need any more talks because we know the situation,” said Sr. Durstyne Farnan, an Adrian Dominican sister from Michigan. “World leaders must quickly agree on ways of fighting climate change to save the planet from damage,” she said, noting that it’s going to be important for “wealthier countries like the United States,” where she comes from, to “find a way to work with other partners in the world, especially small islands that are being washed up and washed away.”
Farnan, who has been participating in street demonstrations at COP27, said her congregation was disappointed in the slow progress of negotiations and said it was unfair for wealthy nations to fail to implement climate mitigation funds while funding fossil fuel companies.
“We have a responsibility as religious to speak and at least be present at the events of COP27. We have many of our sisters in the Global South, and they have already told us what’s happening to their land — there is drought and floods, and people have lost livelihoods due to climate change,” she said.
Religious sisters have been pushing for world leaders to commit to reducing emissions and finance loss and damages resulting from climate change to the Global South.
‘We don’t need any more talks because we know the situation. World leaders must quickly agree on ways of fighting climate change to save the planet from damage.’— Adrian Dominican Sr. Durstyne Farnan
Archbishop Nicolas Thévenin, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Egypt and a member of the Holy See delegation to COP27, urged nations to reach a “concrete decision” on loss and damage during a Nov. 15 meeting of heads of delegations on a final document for the summit.
“A new facility on loss and damage is urgent to respond to the cries of the poorest. We must ensure that the concrete mechanisms necessary can be established in a timely fashion following this decision,” he said, adding that such a fund must effectively support the poorest people and consider both economic and non-economic aspects of loss and damage.
Thévenin also stressed the Holy See delegation’s hopes for the final text to convey “both urgency and responsibility,” and said they were pleased to see the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit reflected in talks after some worried that nations would back away from the more ambitious goal in the Paris Agreement.
Comboni Missionary Sr. Paola Moggi works with the Vivat International team at COP27, the U.N. climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (EarthBeat photo/Doreen Ajiambo)
Comboni Missionary Sr. Paola Moggi — whose congregation has a significant presence in 16 African nations — said she was perplexed that the inclusion of loss and damage in the COP27 agenda remains a “hot issue” and “political game” that developed countries are not willing to discuss and decide upon a solution that will benefit the world and better protect the planet.
“What I see is that negotiations are very difficult here, and the progress is very slow because interests, especially financial interests, prevail,” said Moggi, representing VIVAT International, a faith-based NGO working to bring the voice of grassroots communities to the U.N. “The special focus on finance and the debate on the loss and damage of financial facilities can be addressed not only from the material point of view but also from an immaterial point of view — cultural and spiritual damages need to be considered.”
Sr. Ernestine Lalao, representing her congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd from Madagascar, pleaded with wealthy nations responsible for the climate crisis to sympathize with those in developing countries who are excessively affected by climate injustices, and to agree to compensate them.
Adrian Dominican Sr. Durstyne Farnan (left) from Michigan, poses with Sr. Ernestine Lalao, a member of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd from Madagascar. (EarthBeat photo/Doreen Ajiambo)
She said Madagascar is one of the countries in the world most affected by human-induced climate change, although it produces few greenhouse gas emissions. She said the country had experienced famine, cyclones, forced displacement, and loss of lives and livelihood due to the impact of climate change.
According to the CDP Africa Report, Africa produces less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the report indicates that China is responsible for 23%, the U.S. for 19% and the European Union for 13% of global greenhouse gases.
“Let the fruits of all negotiations and promises be put into action, and action is very urgent,” she told EarthBeat in Sharm El-Sheikh, urging world leaders to use the remaining few days to make a decision that will save the planet from destruction. “Everyone on this planet has a great responsibility for this great global challenge in the fight against climate change. Developed countries are really invited to support underdeveloped countries like Madagascar, which is among the most victimized by climate change.”
Farnan urged COP27 participants not to give up on their push for climate solutions. “We will continue praying that all countries trying to put their best efforts into climate mitigation will continue to do that, and we will support them through our prayers, energy and commitment,” she said. “We will also care for mother earth from where we are. We can do it on our own by mitigating our consumption and limiting carbon emissions.”
“Catholic sisters can bring an alternative perspective of spirituality to this COP so that we overcome the technological bias that is present here,” said Moggi, as she called for solidarity and prayers before the delegates unveil a final document that sets out their core objectives for tackling the climate crisis.
Lalao urged world leaders to commit to fighting climate change because it is “the work of God.”
“They should make this commitment in faith, hope and love, knowing that we are participating in God’s work of transformation,” she said.This story appears in the COP27 Egypt feature series. View the full series.
November 6-18th is the COP 27 meeting in Egypt.
Sister Sharon Zayac shares an introduction to this important next step in saving our planet.
A huge delegation of people will be in Egypt at the foot of Mt Sinai where the monks of St. Catherine have been in continuous prayer for 17 centuries. The first official icon of Jesus was written in this monastery.
As the delegation moves towards COP 27 I ask for your prayers that countries will make a firm commitment to 1.5 Celsius and not just words. Please pray for all of us as we move into this
Important meeting of the nations and civil society.
JCOR, Justice Coalition for Religious that our UN is a member of has put together a special guide and a particular pilgrimage that we can all take during the month of November.
Here are the links to the guide and pilgrimage
Shoeless on Sinai: A digital pilgrimage to COP27 https://jcor2030.org/shoeless-on-sinai-a-digital-pilgrimage-to-cop27/
JCoR Guide to COP27: https://jcor2030.org/communications-guides/
Included in Sharon’s introduction at the end is a Calendar of videos and reflections from around the Dominican World. Some of you will also receive a daily reflection through DSC and St. Catherine Chapter of the Adrian Dominicans via the listservs. We look forward to joining you in prayer and looking at the wonderful videos that have been shared with us as an example of how Dominicans are mitigating Climate Change. The videos are all different and begin at the beginning of November. Enjoy and let us pray for a positive outcome of this incredible two weeks ahead.
Conference of the Parties on Climate Change
COP27 – A Dominican Response
November 6-18, 2022
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, will be held from November 6 to 18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Sharm El Sheikh is Egyptian for the city of peace, an apt name for the international gathering to address the increasing urgency for climate crisis action. The city is also tellingly located only 50 miles from Mt. Sinai, a site sacred to three major faith traditions, all of whom recognize the one Creator whose love encompasses the whole of life.
This is a gathering of heads of State, ministers and negotiators, climate activists, mayors, civil society representatives, CEOs, and concerned citizens from many nations who come together to continue the on-going efforts to revitalize international cooperation on climate action. It is essential that they hear from as many voices as possible. We are all of us affected by the growing consequences of climate change.
Our Dominican voice is one of the many that must be heard. There are ___ sisters and brothers in almost every nation of the globe. We are on the ground, literally, experiencing the crises, living and working with the increasing numbers of people, particularly the poor and marginalized, whose lives and livelihoods are devastated by extreme heat, loss of biodiversity, storms, drought, floods, and fire. It is not only our compassion and desire for justice that moves us to action, however. Our response comes from the very heart of why we were founded.
In the 12th Century, the dualistic Albigensian heresy pitted the material world, created by the evil God, against the spiritual, created by the good God. Dominic de Guzman’s response was to found an Order to Preach the Truth of the integrity of the whole of creation, created by the One God.
This was further affirmed by Albert the Great, who shifted academia from Plato’s cosmology, which did not see reality in the material word, to that of Aristotle, who did. Thomas Aquinas recognized that the shift in cosmology required a whole new understanding of the Divine, and he spent his life, literally, rewriting theology. Catharine of Siena’s theology is deeply rooted in images of creation. Meister Eckhart is our creation mystic par excellence. Martin de Porres, friend to all living creatures, shows us how to live in right relationship with one another and the whole of life.
Veritas. By our very charism as Dominicans, we are called to speak Truth to a world that often lives in denial of reality. Our emphasis on study to separate fact from false hype, on prayer and contemplative reflection that open us to our own personal transformation, on the importance of living for the common good lend us credibility to speak this, Truth.
Since few of us can travel to Egypt for a physical presence, we offer the following as a way to be connected to the work and the outcome of the Conference.
There is a Series of reflections on the readings for each of the days during the Conference
Short videos that highlight some of the work we Dominicans are doing to address climate and a webinar at the beginning of this calendar presented by Sr Sharon Zayac and Father Neil Mitchell OP of South Africa. The webinar is 49 minutes in length on Integral Ecology and the Dominican Charism.
I’d like to thank Jill Buffetta who is my intern this semester who worked on the Calendar of events. She did an outstanding job and I really need her help and creativity as we found the correct platform for the reflections.
Most especially I liked to thank the Committee who worked with me to create a Dominican response to COP 27.
- Jane Belanger, OP Dominican of Peace
- Linda Gibler, OP Dominican of Houston
- Neil Mitchell, OP Dominican of South Africa
- Sarudzai Muetero, OP Dominican of the Sacred Heart Zimbabwe
- Corinne Sanders, OP Dominican of Adrian
- Sharon Zayac, OP Dominican of Springfield