Thursday, November 12, 2015

“Kora” travaillez, ou le discours de la haine au Burundi

“Kora” travaillez, ou le discours de la haine au Burundi

Cet article est copie a` son integralite' du blog de Coellette BlacmanCatégorieNon classé
Abreuvée de discours menaçants, réveillée chaque matin par les détonations et le souffle des explosions, Bujumbura s’enfonce dans la peur. Selon un journaliste local, joint par téléphone, les quartiers nord de la ville, fiefs de la contestation, se vident lentement : «ballots sur la tête, les gens fuient. Ils craignent l’expiration de l’ultimatum fixé à vendredi par le président Nkurunziza qui, dans un discours à la nation, a ordonné que toutes les armes soient remises. »
Un autre interlocuteur confirme : « il y a beaucoup d’armes dans les quartiers. Les opposants au régime sont désormais organisés, bien armés, il est clair qu’ils sont approvisionnés depuis un pays voisin. Face à eux, l’armée et la police eux aussi ont été rééquipés en armes et sont prêts à tout … »Et de conclure : «la peur est permanente : on tire sur des cortèges funéraires, sur des corbillards, les morts s’additionnent et on ne sait pas vraiment qui est à l’origine de ces provocations. Pire encore que les grenades, les bombes, les détonations, nous vivons l’institutionnalisation du mensonge, de la manipulation : chaque partie commet des crimes qu’elle impute à l’autre, on ne sait plus qui est qui…Dans les deux camps, on recourt à la violence…C’est la spirale de la terreur… »
Lorsque, le 20 août dernier le président Nkurunziza avait prêté serment, investi pour un troisième mandat à l’issue d’élections violemment contestées, il s’était engagé à ramener la paix dans un délai de deux mois. Mais depuis lors les attaques contre les positions de la police se sont multipliées.
Le premier délai d’un mois accordé pour permettre la remise volontaire des armes entre les mains des civils ayant expiré sans donner de résultats, le chef de l’Etat, dans un discours solennel, a donné un dernier terme de cinq jours, qui expire le week end prochain. Après quoi, a-t-il menacé, les forces de l’ordre recevront « tous les moyens » pour se défendre et désarmer les auteurs des attaques.
Au cours des dernières semaines déjà, les forces de sécurité à la recherche d’armes ont multiplié les descentes dans les quartiers, avec perquisitions, fouilles et parfois meurtres et chaque matin, des corps étaient retrouvés sur la rue…
Rappelons que, lorsqu’en avril dernier, le parti au pouvoir FDD CNDD annonça que le président sortant Pierre Nkurunziza, (en violation de l’esprit des accords de paix d’Arusha) allait briguer un troisième mandat, l’opposition à ce projet dépassa largement le cadre ethnique : au sein même du parti majoritaire, des intellectuels hutus se dressèrent contre cette violation de la Constitution et ces « frondeurs » furent exclus du parti. Un militaire hutu, le général Nyombare, mena une tentative de putsch, rapidement mise en échec mais qui permit de détruire plusieurs stations de radio indépendantes et de durcir la répression. A l’époque, au sein de la société civile comme parmi les manifestants, opposants Hutus et Tutsis se retrouvaient côte à côte, hostiles à un pouvoir dont ils critiquaient la corruption, l’inefficience et dont ils refusaient la reconduction à l’occasion d’un troisième mandat présidentiel.
Six mois plus tard, les «vieux démons » du Burundi semblent s’être réveillés et l’ethnisme, délibérément ranimé par le pouvoir, a refait surface : les dizaines de milliers de réfugiés qui ont afflué vers le Rwanda voisin sont essentiellement Tutsis et ils assurent avoir été menacés par leurs voisins. Mais surtout, des personnalités officielles, soutenant l’ultimatum lancé par le président Nkurunziza, u n’hésitent pas à tenir des discours dont le vocabulaire rappelle les termes utilisés à la veille du génocide au Rwanda en 1994. Ainsi, lors d’une rencontre avec les chefs des quartiers de la municipalité de Bujumbura, le président du Sénat, Révérien Ndikuriyo, a tenu les propos suivants (enregistrés sur un smartphone puis réécoutés et rediffusés…) : « lorsqu’on donnera l’autorisation aux forces de l’ordre de travailler, vous irez où ? Il n’y a pas d’île au Burundi… Lorsqu’ on passera à l’opération « kora » (travaillez) , vous irez où ? L’opération sera claire : tout se terminera ici dans vos quartiers. On arrêtera le feu par un feu plus dévastateur.
Le jour où on dira « kora » il ne restera plus rien. (…)On fera le travail, tout sera brûlé. A Cibitoke, il y a eu 100 morts en deux jours. Vous tomberez dans vos maisons. On vous délogera, même si vous êtes cachés sous les pierres. »
Au lendemain de ce discours incendiaire, le chef de la police rédigeait le message suivant : « le paresseux sommeillant sur sa tâche ne songe pas au jour qui fuit » tandis qu’un partisan du président diffusait sur les réseaux sociaux une photo de lui avec une machette…Quant au premier vice président, Gaston Sindimwo, il a déclaré « nous allons utiliser tous les moyens y compris des avions. (…) La récréation est finie… »Pour les habitants des quartiers hostiles au pouvoir, le message est clair : à la fin de l’ultimatum présidentiel, ils feront l’objet d’une répression extrêmement dure, qui visera surtout les groupes de jeunes manifestants.
Il faut noter que les menaces ne visent pas seulement les opposants et les Tutsis : comme au Rwanda en 1994, les Belges sont volontiers pris comme boucs émissaires, accusés de tous les maux qui ont frappé le Burundi, depuis la colonisation jusqu’à nos jours.
Face à cette détérioration rapide de la situation, la présidente de la Commission de l’Union africaine, Mme Dlamini Zuma a dénoncé dans un communiqué « la poursuite des actes de violence, ainsi que la multiplication des déclarations de nature à aggraver davantage la tension actuelle et à créer les conditions d’une instabilité encore plus grande, aux conséquences dévastatrices tant pour le Burundi que pour l’ensemble de la région. »
A ce stade cependant, aucune action internationale concrète n’est encore envisagée.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A CALL TO IMMEDIATELY STOP THE NKURUNZIZA REGIME FROM ANOTHER GENOCIDE IN BURUNDI




THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS CALLED TO URGENTLY INTERVENE IN PREVENTING A GENOCIDE OF TUTSIS IN BURUNDI.

Some of the International Community members are already alarming the world leaders to take action in preventing an under-way preparation of genocide of Tutsis in Burundi. Those who doubt that history repeats itself, especially when it comes to the fate of Tutsis in the great lake region can simply ready the following informational documents by non African actors:

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BY

Ambassador Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
November 5, 2015



The United States is alarmed by the escalating violence in Burundi and dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric on the part of the government, loyalist militias, violent anti-government forces and criminal elements. The United States will support the region and our partners in the international community so that those who commit or incite violence are held accountable.
We are deeply concerned by President Nkurunziza’s speech of November 2nd, in which he pledged to use violent methods to have security forces search homes for weapons and opposition figures within five days. The continued sowing of a climate of fear and tension through such language and the use of such measures only prolongs and deepens Burundi’s political and security crisis. The United States expresses its extreme concern that the five-day ultimatum issued by the President will trigger widespread violence beginning this coming weekend.
We are also deeply disturbed by reports that incendiary and divisive speech is being used by other government officials. The President of the Burundian Senate, Révérien Ndikuriyo, has reportedly invoked the language of horrors the region hasn’t witnessed in 20 years. Whether in Kirundi or English, this language is terrifying: “You tell those who want to execute the mission: on this issue, you have to pulverize, you have to exterminate – these people are only good for dying. I give you this order, go!”

Such dangerous speech and the President’s call for a widespread, indiscriminate security crackdown exacerbate an already volatile situation and risk inciting even greater violence. We call on the Government of Burundi to allow immediate, unfettered access for African Union human rights and security monitors, and to act immediately on its stated commitment to participate in an internationally-mediated dialogue outside of Burundi in pursuit of a consensual path toward restoring stability and ending the climate of fear in the country.

End of quote.

Now, if you are still not convinced, may be the following excerpt from those preparing to execute the genocide might convince you:
Here’s an excerpt from a speech by the Senate president, Reverien Ndikuriyo, to heads of security of local neighborhoods (the translation isn’t idiomatic, I’m afraid):
You should go and warn them so that tomorrow there are no regrets. I am telling you clearly: give clear-cut orders to your subordinates, tell the heads of the groups of 10 households. If there are guns, collect them. If there are grenades, also collect them…You must not go into the bush because if you dare, we will not spare you. The bush is already mined and reserved for something else. You must stay at home. You will die here, at home. We shall settle everything right here, at home. Moreover, we shall not have any regard for feelings when it is time for action! I am telling you this clearly….
If you hear the signal with the directive that it must come to an end, emotions and tears will be useless! That is how it is going to be. You are heads of neighborhoods. Go and speak to the residents of your respective neighborhoods. If somebody says, “I am ready to die,” then you will tell those who will come to carry out the mission: “you should spray this area,” these people deserve to die! I am giving you the order, go!
End of quote.
There you have it, from the horse's mouth: a genocide of Tutsis, again being cooked while the whole world is clearly watching and closely following as they did 20 years ago when a million of Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered by the rugs_killers of Tutsis in the region. How long will Tutsis be left to die every time a bloody regime decides to? I also echo those who are calling for an immediate action to stop the madness of blood shedding of innocent people in Burundi. Please use your mighty and influence at least once to do the right thing! 
Tutsis have suffered enough, they need to also live. May the Almighty God intervene and prevent this horrible event.

Achim
J.M



Thursday, October 8, 2015

POLITICAL TENSIONS INCREASES BETWEEN KIGALI AND BUJUMBURA

One of the hot news in the great lakes regional politics is the disruption of relations between Rwanda and Burundi, where tension is highly being felt by people from both longstanding friend countries. It is now comfirmed that the Burundian Minister for foreigner affairs Mr. Desiré Nyaruhirira in the name of his government has declared Mr. Rugira, the Rwandan ambassador in Burundi a ``persona non grata``, meaning an unwelcome person in Burundi. In other words, the Rwandan ambassador has been kicked out in Burundi. 
According to artcle 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relation, a country has the right to declare any ambassador of any given country in its territory to leave without having to expain itself, the diplomate in question becomes a persona non grata. This is the case now for the Rwandan ambassador in Burundi.

This however, is quite concerning for those who know the politic of the great lakes region, especially regarding Rwanda`s response in the past to countries that have tried this act of disrespect and provocation. President Paul Kagame is well known for his tough stand to anyone who dares show contempt towards Rwanda. One can remember when Belgium closed Rwandan ambassy`s bank account in Belgium, the following days Rwanda did the same to its counterpart who probably did not see this coming. The memory of Germony ambassor declared persona non grata in Rwanda after Germany arrested Rose Kabuye. It is worthy noting that if Rwanda took that bold responses to powerful countries whose aid Rwanda needed so much for its functionality, but for the sake of its Akaciro (dignity) was ready to sacrifice, how much and strong Rwanda's reaction would be on Burundi, a much weaker and neighoring country.

Not to mention that rumors has it that Burundi has been hosting the members of FDLR, (former genocidaires) responsible for the 1994 genocide against Tutsis, and is said to support them in their evil plan to attack Rwanda.
Although Burundi holds a similar accusation against Rwanda for hosting Burundian opposition group, closing Rwandan ambassy in Burundi could be deadly for President Nkurunziza despite his supposedly Tanzania and French support. 

Moreover, needless to say that the Burundian government has lost confidence and support of the great majority of its population not only prior to a contested presidential election, but also afterof. Since Mr. Nkurunziza's 3rd term election, Burundi has continued witnessing mass killings of its population in many area of the country.
 Are we at the verge of the apocalyptic prophecies awaiting our region once again! God forbid.
Only God know what awaits our great lake region.


Editor

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

LES AFFRONTEMENTS ENTRE MAI MAI ET FARDC A KAMOMBO, A L'EST DU CONGO




"Qui a but boira" dit-on. Les informations qui nous viennent du haut plateau d'Itombwe temoigne le declanchement d'autres hostilites entre les forces de mai mai et des soldats du gouvernement a Kamombo, a` l'Est de la RD ce vendredi passé le 25 Septembre 2015.  Le bilan de la guerre semble-t-il minimale, donc un mort (Mai Mai). Mais les affrontement ne sont pas encore finies. Alors qu'on se demandait encore pour quoi la milice Mai mai attaque encore les hauts plateaux, une autre information confirmer la mort de 13 personnes dont 11 soldats survenue lors d'une ambiscade de cette meme milice (Mai Mai) a` Uvira.
Les miliciens ont ciblé un camion qui transportait les gens de la banque TMB qui venaient payer les soldats. Selon radion BBC, ce staff de la banque avaient sur eux une somme de $40,000 et ces milices s'en ont accaparer. On peut se demander comment ces assaillants savaient que l'on transporte cette somme d'argent dans un camion qui avait a son bord plus de 11 militaire dont on ne sait pas encore les noms.
Cependant, ici on parle de la RDC la` ou tout est possible!
Il semble que malgré tous ce qu'on essaie de faire au Congo, les Mai Mai ne semblent pas apprendre aucune lecon.  Qui aurait prédit qu'apres juste a peu pres d'une année de paix quand les relations ethniques dans le haut plateau commencait juste a`souffler pacifiquement sur notre region que le Sud Kivu sombrerait dans le chaos causé par les Mai Mai? On a tendance a` negliger l'impact de ces provocations, pourtant l'histoire recente nous montre clairement que la guerre qui a renversée le regime de Mobutu a débutée a` Kamombo en 1996. Il ne faut jamais negliger et sous-estimer l'ennemi.

S'il ya encore des sages dans la communauté Bafulero d'Itombwe, qu'ils se precipitent le plus tot possible afin de calmer leurs jeunes delinquants qui ne savent que la guerre. L'incombre est que au Congo on a affaire a` une generation des gens qui n'ont connu que la guerre pendant toute leur vie. Ils ne savent pas comment s'y prendre pendant la periode de la paix. Ils sont habitués a` piller pour vivre au lieu de se mettre au travail. Ils ne savent pas le language de la paix. Ils n'ont acquis aucun savoir faire de comment resoudre leur difference sans recourir aux moyens de la violences. Ce qui est meme plus triste et dangereux ce que, ces jeunes n'ont plus des valeurs africaines de respect envers leurs parents ou les adultes ou meme l'autorité. Ils ont été des seigneurs de guerre et ne savent que la loi de jungle. Alors le defi est de savoir comment les encadrer surtout quand on a un gouvernement qui ne sait pas l'importance d'investir dans les programmes sociaux et surtout la presence des politiciens immatures et opportunistes qui profitent de la vulnerabilités de ces jeunes pour avancer leur agenda negatif.


Néamoins, les communautes du haut plateaux, toutes les ethnies confudues devraiement prendre le devant et engager une reconciliation et faire les efforts de resolution des conflits d'une maniere pacifique. Sinon, "qui a bu boira".

Akim

LES RELATIONS RWANDO-CONGOLO S'AMELIORE ENCORE AVANT DE S'EMPIRER??


Les deux ministres de defense de la RDC et du Rwanda se sont rencontrer a Kigali pour relancer la relation de bonne voisinage entre les deux pays longtemps amis en conflit. Au meme moment certains des extremistes Congolais et leurs sympathisants du grand lacs vivants au Canada exprimaient fort et sans honte leurs ignobles comportements d'anti-valeurs comme quoi le president Rwandais son Excellence Paul Kagame ne devrait pas venir au Canada, l'accusant d'avoir soutenu les rebelles Congolais contre leur pays.

Le ridicule ne tue pas!  C'est trop decevant quand on voit les gens qui ne semblement pas etre capable d'apprendre aucune lecon de leurs experiences nefastes. Comme si le genocide contre les Tutsis commis au Rwanda et en RDC et ses repercussions ne suffisaient la meme ideologie continue a` etre promulguer au sein de certaines communautes de Diaspora au Canada. Les manifestants Congolais de Montreal chantaient a haute voix l'ideolgie de Mugesera de tuer une fois encore les Tutsis cette fois-ci de toute l'Afrique. On dirait qu'au Quebec, Mr. Mugesera a laissé un groupe des disciples qui continuera a` propager son ideologie anti-semitique. La question est de savoir si jamais la relation entre ces deux pays aura vraiment une paix durable au moment ou certains leaders d'opinion populaire pour leurs crueautés continuer a` inciter leurs compatriotes de tuer leurs voisins Tutsis? Pourtant les memes personnes crient fort qu'ils veulent la paix de leur pays!

(Pour plus d'information sur les deliquants manifestants de Montreal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp95nAlIX24_

Cependant, le Canada et le monde ne devraient pas ignorer ces genres de propagande d'incitation a la haine comme c'etait le cas pendant la meme propagande de Leon Mugesera qui a resulté au genocide contre les Tutsis.Le gouvernement Canada doit immediatement poursuivre les gens qui incitent la haine et la tuerie des innocents a cause de leur appartenance ethnique. Car, detrompons-nous meme causes produisent meme effets.
Entre temps d'apres Mr. Alain R, il semble que: Pour la première fois depuis les tensions provoquées entre la République démocratique du Congo et le Rwanda par la rébellion du M23 dans l’est de la RDC, il y a plus de trois ans, les ministres de la Défense des deux pays se sont rencontrés, ce jeudi 24 septembre, à Kigali. Une entrevue qui veut marquer le début d’une nouvelle coopération entre les deux pays, notamment sur le dossier de « l’éradication » des rebelles rwandais du FDLR et le rapatriement des ex-combattants du M23 cantonnés au Rwanda.
Le président rwandais Paul Kagame est « un homme providentiel ». C’est par ces mots que le ministre congolais de la Défense, Aimé Ngoi Mukena, a entamé sa visite au Rwanda, ce jeudi 24 septembre, lors de laquelle il a rencontré son homologue rwandais, James Kabarebe. C'est la première rencontre de ce type entre des ministres de la Défense de la RDC et du Rwanda depuis juin 2012, juste avant que les relations entre les deux voisins ne se tendent en raison des troubles provoqués par la rébellion du M23. Kinshasa et les Nations unies accusaient alors Kigali de jouer un rôle déstabilisateur dans l’est de la RDC.

- See more at: http://fr.africatime.com/rwanda/articles/un-nouveau-chapitre-dans-les-relations-entre-le-rwanda-et-la-rdc#sthash.tZ7D9YJU.dpuf

Thursday, September 24, 2015

DORE IBYO PAPE FRANCIS YAVUGIYE MURI CONGRESS YABANYAMERICA


Reka tubibutse ko kuza kwa Pape muri America benshi bakomeje kukwibazaho cyane, bitewe nokudashira amakenga.

KUBASHAKA GUSOMA DISCOURS YA PAPE FRANCIS YAVUGIYE MUNTEKO CYANGWA ICYITWA the Joint Session of the United States Congress, NGAHO NI MWISOMERE:
Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honourable Members of Congress,
Dear Friends,
I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.
A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolises the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families.
These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organisations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land.
I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realise their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
Personal tribute to great Americans
My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future.
They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honouring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who laboured tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.
This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.
But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.
Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent.
Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
'Voice of faith'
In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776).
If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.
Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all.
I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.
Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognise that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Refugee crisis
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?
We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.
How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.
At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.
It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).
This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).
In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference, I'm sure and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.
A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God,
I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.
This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).
Dialogue and peace
Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimise and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.
Four representatives of the American people.
I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.
God bless America!