to seek NGO status at the UN in support of the Rights of Children
The Christian Brothers' Congregation is going to seek Non-Government
Organisation (NGO) status at the United Nations in its bid to be
a better advocate for the rights of children at risk. This news
was recently conveyed to the brothers internationally in a joint
letter signed by the Congregational Leadership Team in Rome. Br
Donal Leader has been appointed the Congregation Promoter of Advocacy
and Justice. Following is the full text of the letter which was
published at Easter time.
OF THE INSIGHTS of the Congregation Chapter of
2002 addressed the issue of A prophetic Call to a Quest for
Justice. Through this Insight, the Chapter challenged the
followers of Blessed Edmund to make the Quest for Justice a core
dimension of their apostolic ministry. Because the Quest for Justice
is such a broad issue, and because it impinges on so many dimensions
of economic, social and political life in our world to day, the
CLT, in its reflections on the Insight, believed it appropriate
to view the Quest for Justice in the context of the Congregations
charism and tradition. It is our belief that a central focus of
our apostolic outreach in the area of Justice should be the welfare
of Children at Risk. It was the plight of such children that moved
the heart of Blessed Edmund when he began his prophetic work back
Children at Risk we mean the following:
- Children in underdeveloped countries at risk from malnutrition,
lack of education, child labour, slavery, child abuse, child soldiering,
and other forms of exploitation;
- Children adversely affected by their Refugee Status; and
- Children who, because of their poverty, fail to benefit from
the educational and the social services provided for them.
Around the congregation generally, there is much good work being
done in this area. Some initiatives are the result of PLTs investing
province resources in Justice Offices and personnel. Other projects
are the result of individuals taking the initiative, and using their
own energy and enthusiasm to address the particular needs that they
believe are compelling, and deserving of their efforts. Overall,
across the congregation generally, there appears to be a lack of
a real focus and a lack of co-ordination. The decision of the CLT
to call attention to the plight of Children at Risk is intended
to bring a sharper focus and co-ordination to the excellent work
of Justice being promoted in many parts of the congregation.
There is another dimension to the work of Justice that up to now
has not been seen as a significant part of the congregations
involvment in this ministry viz. the dimension of Advocacy. Not
alone is it necessary to address the plight of Children at Risk,
it is also necessary to lobby for systemic change so that the root
causes giving rise to the pain and misery of children can be addressed.
Many of those involved in Justice ministry in the congregation are
responding on a daily basis, and in very difficult circumstances,
to the prophetic call to work for social justice and human development.
who work in this field can often feel powerless and without a voice
when confronted by the overwhelming forces that threaten the dignity
and rights of the poor, particularly children in marginalized situations.
Who speaks for those upon whom unjust structures and circumstances
have imposed the silence of powerlessness? Where are the places
of power and influence where the cry of the poor and the voice of
the child should be heard? These are questions that challenge the
Congregation to be an advocate for the rights of children everywhere.
One of the ways of promoting the welfare of
Children at Risk from the perspective of effective advocacy is to
gain NGO status for the Congregation at the United Nations. Over
the past number of years, several congregations have successfully
negotiated such recognition for themselves, and because of that
they are now in a position to be a voice for the voiceless in one
of the most important forums of the modern world, the United Nations.
NGO status is only achievable by a congregation when it has a clear
focus on what it stands for, and when it is seen by the relevant
UN authorities to have a proven track record on the ground in working
with the people it claims to represent.
the light of the above reflections, the CLT has taken the decision
to appoint Br. Donal Leader to the role of Congregation Promoter
for Advocacy and Justice. In establishing this role, the CLT is
providing a new focus for the justice dimension of the Congregations
global mission, and an enhanced recognition of the significance
of the ministry of those who struggle daily against structural and
political injustice. A fundamental aspect of Donals role will
be assisting the Congregation in gaining access to recognized international
institutions, particularly to the relevant agencies of the United
Nations, to ensure that those who work for children and the poor
around the world can speak to the international community and claim
justice on behalf of the voiceless.
Those who work in marginalized situations can sometimes feel that
they are ploughing a very lonely furrow. All too often, those who
work on behalf of children and the poor around the Congregation
feel deprived of access to the resources of advocacy, research,
theological reflection and political analysis that can integrate
the work of justice within a broader frame of reference. It is Donals
intention to offer, as far as possible, this service to the Congregation
at the international level. Beginning in 2006, he will seek to learn
from, and reflect with, those who are active in ministries on behalf
of children and of the deprived. This is a new journey for the Congregation
and for Donal. He will learn to walk with those who minister to
the poor, and will initiate a dialogue that in time, and with Gods
grace, will become a powerful voice for the silent and the powerless.
When we journey we listen, we reflect, and we share. This new role
and ministry within the Congregation engages with the dynamism,
power and mystery of the Emmaus story on behalf of those for whom
Jesus had a particular concern, the children of the world.
those who wish to contact Donal on any aspect of this new ministry
to which he has been called can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His community address is: Christian Brothers, Synge St., South Circular
Road, Dublin 8.
Brothers, we believe this is another important step on the Congregations
journey back to its roots. It is a tentative step, and Donal will
need the support and the good will of all those who are involved
in the Justice ministry within the ambit of congregation ministry.
Over the next few months, he will be engaged in personal preparation
and reflection. He will also be planning his process of engagement
with people on the ground. It is his intention to make personal
contact with as many ministry sites as possible so that he can gain
first hand information on what is going on. In this way, he hopes
to build up a solid network among those working for Justice so that
when the time comes for him to make an approach for formal recognition
at the UN, he will be in a position to draw on the wisdom and insights
of those who are actively engaged in this ministry on the ground.
Recommending this new venture to your practical and prayerful support,