Our mission demands that we should courageously denounce injustice, with charity, prudence and firmness, in sincere dialogue with all parties concerned. We know that our denunciations can secure assent to the extent that they are an expression of our lives and are manifested in continuous action.
– Justice in the World, no. 57
Rio+20 Youth Delegation – Declaration on the Fall Campaign
In June of 2012, a bilingual group of youth leaders from across the country gathered at the Rio+20 People’s Summit to represent Development and Peace at one of the most important assemblies of our generation for the future of our planet. Francophone and Anglophone, Western and Eastern Canada, Indigenous and non-Indigenous sisters, all passionate members of this global movement for justice and peace that we hold so dear to our hearts.
As young members united in our demonstrated commitment to living out the gospel through working with Development and Peace, we are uniting once again to call for its renewal in this current climate of conflict, anger, and disempowerment.
We are angry.
We are angry with members of the CCCB, who have overstepped their power and abused their relationship with Development and Peace in intervening in this year’s fall campaign. As an organization founded by the Bishops in the time of Vatican II to be a lay-led movement for justice, this decision is at odds with decades of empowered lay people putting their faith into action through advocacy and solidarity.
We are angry with our government, whose changing philosophy on international development is cause for great concern for our partners, and for us as a movement of members.
We are angry with the leaders of this movement. We do not believe that the current leadership team stands for D&P members or partners as definitively as it ought. Their failure to communicate clearly in the context of crisis, their failure to stand up for outstanding partners such as the Centro PRODH that unjustly come under fire, and their failure to act prophetically when the fall campaign was at risk is unacceptable. We are unwilling to stand by and let their inaction go unchallenged.
We are tired.
We are tired of being told that this is a democratic organization in which members are told they are heard. Whether we are new to the movement, or have been active for decades, we have always been proud to call ourselves members. Recent events have made us frustrated and ashamed of the movement we call our own. The governance structures of this organization are failing its members and need to be reviewed in order for member voices to be at the centre of this movement once again.
We are tired of consistently failing our partners who, time and time again, remind us that our solidarity, our willingness to speak out against injustice, is worth so much more than our dollars. How can we say we continue to live in solidarity with our partners when we are no longer willing to take political action?
When we have come up against a wall, members have always held fast to our determination to affirm D&P’s prophetic role in the Church. We have held fast to our Catholic values. We are willing to be risk takers when these fundamental aspects of our identity are challenged. And yet, our elected leadership and management team deny us this courage and respond to challenge with cowardice.
However, we are not willing to give up.
We are calling for a renewal of leadership and of the democratic values we hold dear. How can we say we support the democratic struggles of our partners when we cannot even practice it internally? Listening to the youth voice and supporting more youth involvement at all levels is essential to this process and to the future of the organization.
We are calling for a courageous National Council executive and management team that is willing to take the demands of our partners seriously, to take the clear priorities of members seriously, to take our prophetic call seriously.
We are calling for a better communication system in which the most active members can be promptly made aware of brewing crisis and supported in communicating with their communities. In order to respond effectively, we require open communication and transparency. Backroom deals outside of the democratic structures of the organization are unacceptable.
We are calling for a clarification of our relationship with the CCCB. While we value our relationship with the Church and see it as fundamental to the work that we do, we believe in the original CCCB vision of CCODP as a lay organisation and we are not willing to cede control of our work to a small number of bishops. who have always stood by Development and Peace as a lay-led movement. We want the CCCB, in relationship with Development and Peace, to establish specific parameters for expressing concerns regarding CCODP campaigns and programming.
And we are prepared to act.
We support the spirit of the Francophone Youth Declaration and support those groups that choose to participate in the boycott of the Fall Action and Share Lent campaigns for this year, including their decision not to participate in the Fall Action and Share Lent campaigns for this year. We also join the call for an internal campaign to address those governance reforms that are needed to restore our faith in Development and Peace as a democratic movement. We want to be clear that, in choosing to support these actions, we are expressing a depth of love for this organization that should not be taken for granted. We are in a position to walk away and devote our energies to other work. Instead, we are choosing to stay and fight for the values that are important to us.
We call for an energetic groundswell encouraging the Bishops, D&P management, and the National Council to question their role in compromising our prophetic voice. We ask that members from across the country take out their pens, pick up their phones, and meet face-to-face with leaders in the organization and the Church to express their frustrations and calls for renewal. We want these communications to be shared movement-wide so that we can feel united in our efforts to reclaim the organization.
We are organizing for a youth led movement to reform the organization according to the values of members and partners. We are committed to open and honest dialogue with each other and with the leaders of the movement about what needs to change, and how we can come together to effect this change. May we, as a movement, find strength and courage in our faith to restore our prophetic voice and once again become leaders in the global struggle for justice and peace.
Adopted November 20th, 2012 by the Rio +20 Youth Delegation