CONTINENTAL YOUTH SEMINAR BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA, 24-27 APRIL 2003
Meeting in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, we young people from 14 countries, have together participated in this seminar, celebrating life in a spirit of harmony and unity, and reflecting on the process of globalisation that affects our peoples.
We define globalisation as a financial, economic, social, political and cultural process of interconnection that corresponds to the interests of a minority. This process has accelerated due to the ease of communications and has taken place in the context of capitalism’s political victory over the Soviet bloc and the eclipse of ideology in cultural matters. As citizens of the world, we suffer the consequences of this capitalist globalisation, which has so far brought us exclusion, unemployment, the loss of cultural identity, consumerism, the unequal distribution of wealth and an ecological crisis, amongst other calamities.
As young Christians, we believe that the whole inhabited earth, this oikoumene, is the house of God, the Good Shepherd of Humanity (Psalm 23) and that, in his Providence, He has provided everything for all of us, without exclusion, so that nobody can: claim private ownership of possessions (Acts 4:32b).
The transnationalisation of the world economy, in which companies move freely around the planet, seeking the cheapest labour force, the most unregulated environment, the most favourable fiscal regime and the most generous subsidies, has caused the living conditions of our brothers and sisters in the world to deteriorate and has led to further destitution of the poorest people. For them life has become a veritable tragedy instead of being a gift of God.
The debt of underdeveloped countries is a hateful reality, which causes international relations to be scarred by domination, enslavement and subordination, instead of blessed with a spirit of cooperation and solidarity. This means that we young people have to bear a painful and terrible injustice: the flow of capital from the debtor (poor) countries to the creditors, while our people die of hunger and avoidable physical and social illnesses. Debt has facilitated the imposition of polices that privatise public social services and deregulate the economy. This deprives young people of a future, and generates frustration and violence.
Neoliberalism has been proclaimed as the only escape from the misery in which our people live. As young people, we shout out loud for a world that is free from the neoliberal ideas that form the main underpinning for globalisation, and we demand the right to dream and have a vision of the future, gifts that this system denies us.
The Gospel teaches us that we have to struggle for liberation of the oppressed (Luke 4:18). Neither our long-suffering people, nor our Lord Jesus Christ, permit us to accept the reality created by this globalisation. The Apostle, Saint Paul warned us: For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another […] If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another (Galatians 5:13-15). This teaches us that human beings have used their freedom unwisely and have transformed Creation into a veritable valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23). God invites us to build a different world and to love our neighbour as ourself. We therefore promise to take practical steps and form dynamic initiatives to address the following challenges, in our faith communities, in our respective countries:
1. Faced with a system that destroys identities and crushes minorities, we are called on to remind ourselves of the historic memory of our peoples, because without this memory, just as without a plan, we have no future. To this end, a continental network of educational institutions could be created, one that is able to provide a new direction and to set its sights on reaffirming the cultural identity and history of each people.
2. Faced with the logic of the capitalist economy, in which the strongest dominate, we call for a commitment to alternative forms of economics and models of development based on solidarity and co-operation .
3. We want to strengthen the mission of the churches and make another world possible. To this end, we propose the organisation of an Ecumenical Forum to focus on economic alternatives to neo-liberalism and capitalist globalisation. This Forum could be organised as part of the WCC Assembly scheduled for 2006. We are glad to hear the news that the Assembly will be held in Porto Alegre. This fills us with a sense of expectation.
4. Faced with the social fragmentation caused by the unjust relations that are imposed on us, the Christian Churches can work together, and also work with the many social movements that are committed to human life on this Earth, in an inescapable ecumenical vocation.
5. Faced with a situation in which many people are coming back to our churches and places of worship, without this making any substantial change to society, we are called on to carry out a thorough programme of Evangelisation and Education in our Churches, one that links spiritual experience with daily life. The WCC, CLAI and other ecumenical organisations can help such a process by developing educational materials for young people on such important issues as globalisation, economics and citizenship.
6. It is vital for our communities to develop a true “Christian Social Doctrine”, based on the Gospel, and able to express the basic principles of Christianity in a scientifically systematised society; a doctrine that not only speaks to the hearts of church fellowships, but also to educational institutions, graduates, lay people and young people who can make the voice of the church heard in their daily lives, on political, social, economic and cultural issues.
Finally, united by our only Father, brought together by our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, we young people present at this seminar, urge all people to walk on with faith and hope: hope that stems from the conviction that our efforts will not be in vain, hope that is strengthened by our faith, a faith that inspires us in our fight to defend life on this Earth, every day, until the end.