Last update : 2001-07-20

Chapter's e-mail


The Chapter's Chronicle

bleu line

July 11th

We talk of "globalisation"

In spite of the foreboding harbingers of Psalm 49 and the talk of the brethren who spoke of their recent experience of a day without electricity, power was in fact restored at the start of a new day after the previous evening's outage due to a thunderstorm.

Today we celebrated the feast of St. Benedict with a Latin American Mass. Spanish was the language of Lauds, Mass and Vespers. Argentinean Father Pablo Condrac celebrated the Mass, and the musical rhythms characteristic of this considerable part of the world included a "tropical bolero"-as the musical score had it-which was sung during Communion time. Many northern brethren seemed unaccustomed to Caribbean rhythms.

We heard a conference by Robert Schreiter, C. PP. S. about globalization, a talk which was truly timely. Under that title he developed the following themes: the second decade of globalization, "mixed times," and religion and violence.

Under the first heading he spoke of the globalization of communications, the economy, and culture and society. One surprising datum related to communications is that while in the United States there are seven hundred telephones for every one thousand persons, in Bangladesh there are but two telephones for the same population. Economic globalization coincides with the globalization of poverty, which claims more people than does affluence. Exclusion from economic globalization leads to a multicultural society, the result of the emigration of poor peoples. In many places in the United States there are no longer ethnic majorities, while Islam is making inroads in Europe without any possibilities or reasons to halt its advance.

"Mixed times" is the expression that in Latin America describes the coexistence, in time and space, of pre-modernism, modernism, and post-modernism. This can be seen in a special way in the Church: a culture of pre-modern security typical of a certain religiosity, the continuing of Liberation Theology, and being Christian in the post-modern world. The pre-conciliar/post-conciliar dichotomy is no longer valid. The Second Vatican Council is history, and this dichotomy has disappeared. Theology ought to help us discover the pléroma, the fullness, in the midst of a mix of fragments. The Trinity is the mystery of the moment, the mystery of God Three-and-One.

The theme of religion and violence Schreiter elaborated into the following sub-themes: religion as pretext to justify violence; truth as it faces hostile clamoring; religion as a shield against modernization (religious fundamentalism); and violence considered as the very heart of religion (e.g., sacrifice).

Following Schreiter's address came responses from Dominican fathers Paul Kuruvilla of India, Albert Nolan of South African, and Maciej Zieba, Provincial of Poland.

Kuruvilla, drawing on his experience of his own homeland, said that there is no globalization of values, while the very tendency of a global economy is toward religious violence, although perhaps cloaked in religious motives: if there is persecution of Christianity, it is because it defends the person over against diverse economic interests that take no account of the person.

Nolan denounced heatedly the inhuman situation in Africa, where globalization not merely traps so many in poverty but also increases the number of poor, who are not responsible for their own poverty. The horizon is brightened by initiatives such as M.A.P., a sort of compromise of solidarity that has arisen in Africa itself. He stated that modern rationality has not triumphed in overcoming the white man's conviction of superiority over the black man. And finally concerning violence and religion he said that Christianity is the religion of sacrifice, but in which the God-Man Himself is the victim. Thus Christianity is the finest expression of God's commitment to all the victims of various sacrifices.

The Polish Provincial focused upon the theme of "mixed times" in order to make clear how the prophecies of the 19th century-which had announced the death of religion at the hands of reason-had not come to pass and that today religion is vibrant. There is a general conviction that at the center of man is an objective truth which must be sought, not simply "my truth" or "your truth." To renounce objective truth so that each one may seek out his own truth is to justify, for the more powerful, the use of violence and the silencing of the truth. It is incumbent upon each Dominican to discover the objective truth. Citing Servais Pinckaers, O.P., Zieba said one must adhere to a freedom of excellence, not a freedom of indifference.

In groups classified according to region there was discussion of how globalization is lived among them. There were great ideas elegantly expounded by the friars preachers and their observers, but no practical conclusions were arrived at. There was felt to be no hurry, since the chapter and reflection and dialogue had only just begun. In any event, nothing said here should excuse those who receive these texts by globalized media from reading them!

The afternoon was given over to talk about candidates. Groups were made according to language. First, each group, after coming to a profile of the future Master (in no case would the desired profile have improved Saint Dominic much), spoke of names. Later on the group leaders exchanged the names that had surfaced. In the second afternoon session the groups settled down to getting to know each other. And each group decided which friars would be queried about the candidates: his vices and virtues, his health, the languages he speaks or understands, and what the Order might expect from him were he elected Master.

No name can be revealed. Not even the observers, who were present at the deliberations, were present during the discussion of candidates.

[Translated from Spanish] puce

Design & management : Fr. Yves Bériault, o.p.