Greed and the “narrowness of vision” of caring just for our own town, city or country are part of an ‘old culture’ that must be changed to avert disaster, according to the keynote speaker at the Faith and Life Convention in Belfast over the weekend.
Dr Michel Camdessus, former Director of the International Monetary Fund, informed attendees at the annual event organised in the Diocese of Down and Connor of the 11 ‘megatrends’ shaping how the world might look in 2050.
These global factors influencing the shape of the world include changing population demographics, global finances, increased consumerism without cognisance of the world’s finite resources, urbanisation, climate change and new forms of violence experienced across the globe.
Signs of the time
Dr Michel Camdessus’ talk entitled ‘Faith in a Better World: Embracing the Mission to Shape the World of Tomorrow’ encouraged over 500 participants, who attended the convention from across the 87 parishes of the diocese and beyond, to realise that each person is invited by Christ to read the “signs of the time”. He suggested five “paths of humanity” that could contribute towards a universal common good:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequalities.
- Restore finances to their role of serving the economy.
- Change global governance to build a multipolar system for a new world.
- Respond with new wisdom to the finiteness of the planet’s resources.
- Enable our cultures to face up to these challenges by mobilising all the spiritual forces of the world.
“The most serious threats to us – be they pollution, pandemics, climate risks, new forms of violence, etc. – are without borders. They affect the world as a whole; they can only be effectively contained if our responses are part of global strategies,” said Mr Camdessus.
“Alas, the global system is now being called into question. A multipolar organisation is now essential for the world community to share a common vision and to implement a ‘universal common good’. This must be for us a key priority, together with our concern to build up in our communities, regions and countries more just and caring societies.”
He linked this missionary mandate and responsibility to the month of October which has been designated by Pope Francis as having a particular focus on mission.
Mr Camdessus added that mission must always go together with prayer and the sharing of the Word of God and the Eucharist, which requires attention to the problems and hope of society in light of a Christian Social teaching.
The Faith and Life Convention, now in its 6th year, is “standing out as one of the most impressive events in the calendar of the Diocese of Down and Connor and indeed the Irish Church,” according to Director of Living Church Office Paula McKeown.
“The Faith and Life Convention is an initiative of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan and it is a privilege for the Living Church team to animate this event each year with Bishop Noel Treanor.
“We want to create a space for gathering to read ‘the signs of the times’ and this year when we are faced with so much uncertainty around Brexit and local government we were delighted to have Michel Camdessus speaking to us pragmatically about the future and inspiring us with the need to take up our mission for the good of humanity.”
She added the highlight of the event for her was the range of interactions that took place throughout the day, be it over coffee, lunch or in the range of workshops in which people talked about Church, their own lives and God.
She added: “Creating a space where we can talk about our faith is the first step to building a Church that is confident to undertake the mission of evangelisation in the public square.”
Building on the keynote address, delegates had an opportunity to take part in a panel discussion and workshops throughout the afternoon.
Among the speakers were Prof. Thomas Bremer and Prof. Nadieszda Kiezenko reflecting on the sacramental and pastoral practice of the Orthodox Church, Maria Garvey examining the life of the late Jean Vanier and Fr Martin Magill and Dr Nicola Brady who looked at the Church’s role in promoting a voice for peace.
The convention took place in St Patrick’s College.