Bombay (Fides Service) – Catholic delegates to the World Social Forum in Bombay 16 to 21 January, came away with mainly positive valuations.
Father Joe Xavier, who led the Jesuit delegation consisting of about 1.300 Religious, told Fides that one of the most positive aspects was to see “Dalits and Tribals together sharing and discussing problems and aspirations: on both sides there is an obvious growing desire, despite existing difficulties, to unite and form one group. In fact during the Forum these two groups agreed to set up a joint Commission to work in that direction”.
Satisfaction was also expressed by Mr Duncan Mac Laren, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. With the association of International Network of Catholic Development Organizations Mr Mac Laren co-ordinated a Seminar which addressed the problem of unequal distribution of riches. Mr Mac Laren said it was agreed that that reaching the Millennium Development Goals indicated by the United Nations would be a step forward in addressing the situation of economic disparity in the world, but that it will also demand structural changes in the international debt system, trade and fiscal cooperation
With regard to the future of WSF Jesuit Father Pierre Martinot-Lagarde said: “after taking part in the event its future was the question on everyone’s mind. The groups present were very different and their demands were different. But there were common grounds such as promoting development and respect for human rights. Not so much because of common theories or economic models, but because of the experience of sharing, which was good for all. For the next Forum, why not Africa? Nairobi, Dakar or Johannesburg would be excellent choices. Since this Forum focused mainly on problems of people in Asia, the next Forum could give voice to the problems and dreams of the peoples of Africa”.
(PA) (Fides Service 22/1/2004 lines 32 words 331)