Edmund Rice Centre International Programs
A fundamental component of all programs of the Edmund Rice Centre, is our understanding that we exist within a framework of interconnectedness. For humanity this has never been more so than our present time with economic globalisation and mass migrations of many kinds across international borders.
As a society we therefore must seek to better understand and analyse the impacts on peoples everywhere of these globalisations, and as a institution committed to social justice our response must be out of a globalisation of solidarity. Even where our actions and the actions we encourage might have a focus that is local, we prioritise the sense of think global, act local.
Empathy and compassion are not only values from the heart of the Gospels, but are the first qualification required for the work of social justice based on social analysis. It is fundamental to all of our actions as Edmund Rice Centre that we are informed by an understanding of how power relations impact upon and are perceived and integrated by the poor and excluded not just in our local communities, but also in the economically disadvantaged local communities of nations of the global south. Thus the core of ERC's international programs is establishing collaborative partnerships with
Intercultural Dialogue on Development
- This expression describes the ideological framework for ERC's international engagements and particularly for our International Immersion Programs In 1965 with the assistance of local bishop, Sergio Mendéz Arceo, Austrian Catholic priest and intellectual, Ivan Illich opened the Centre for Intercultural Documentation ("CIDOC") a social reflection centre in Cuernavaca, México.
- In the wide array of Illich's social critiques, he developed think on social colonisations, and called on the Church in wealthy countries of the north to stop sending missionaries to "do good" in Latin America, but rather to send people to walk with the church and communities of Latin America in order to learn from their experiences of being Church in a different cultural and socio-economic context.
- It is thus out of this framework that ERC from time to time conducts International Immersion Programs as a concrete process of this dialogue.
- "Development" is a problematic and often paternalisticly-applied term, in the same context of imbalanced and culturally-colonising north-south relations. We use it here though, decidedly and with consideration, explicitly with a desire for dialogue across multi-layered cultural divides, including: north-south; black-white-brown; indigenous-non-indigenous; Church-non-Churched; city-rural; Eurocentric-non-Eurocentric; as well as the spectrum of economic and political belief systems.
Oscar Romero International Christian Solidarity Network
- Edmund Rice Centre is the counterpart organisation in Australia of this network focussed on Latin America
Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de América Latina, "Mons Oscar Arnulfo Romero";
- Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Christian Service of Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America
- SICSAL was founded in México in late 1979 under the leadership and active support of controversial "red-bishop" Sergio Mendéz Arceo of the Diocese of Cuernavaca, as an effort to coordinate and further build the solidarity and material support that organisations and base ecclesial communities could muster to send to instances of the persecuted church in Central America - esp Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The initiative came at this time as a response to a variety of factors:-
- in the light of the Puebla region-wide conference of Bishops from throughout Latin America which affirmed the 1968 Medellín option for the poor in Church thinking;
- with the active involvement of many progressive priests and people from base ecclesial communities in the July 1979 success of the Nicaraguan pro-democracy socialist revolution to overthrow repressive dictator Anastacio Somoza;
- the significant increase by right-wing governments of the region in use of US-backed systems of repressive state-sponsored violence against unions, peasant organisations, socialist political parties and Church work for the promotion of integral respect for human rights;
- upon the 24th March 1980 murder whilst celebrating mass of El Salvador's Catholic primate, Archbishop Oscar Romero, the initiative took his name as the patron of their work: Oscar Romero International Christian Secretariat for Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America.
- Sean Cleary, ERC's coordinator of International Programs has participated in SICSAL since March 1995 and an active member of the international Council of SICSAL since 1997.
Water Not Gold
- Campaign in support of local communities threatened by the impact of mining projects of Australia-based transnational corporations - large and small - in developing nations.
- ERC's first international immersion program was conducted in March 2000 to El Salvador and Guatemala. In that visit the group was hosted in a visit to rural area by "ADES Santa Marta", a small non-governmental rural development organisation representing local communities in El Salvador's northern province of Cabañas. Since that first visit and through regular communication and subsequent visits by both immersion groups and ERC bilingual staff, we have sought to maintain a relationship with ADES and the people of the Santa Marta cluster of communities.
- In 2009 we were alerted by ADES of the murder of one of their volunteer staff members who held a leadership position in local community resistance to the reopening for industrial production of an abandoned historical gold mining site. The sharp rise in the international price of gold, meant that mining sites where the gold concentration was previously considered non-viable were often being reconsidered by mining enterprises - however
- So in 2013 staff at ADES reached out to ERC for support on news that the small Canadian mining exploration company with which they had been struggling, was being purchased by a Melbourne-based mid-level transnational mining corporation OceanaGold.
- Hence began the Water Not Gold campaign as a collaboration between ADES Santa Marta, ERC and a number of unions and other concerned organisations in Australia. Key partners have been the Melbourne-based Victorian and Tasmania branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, who have convened small monthly protests outside the Collins St offices of OceanaGold Corporation with diverse participation including Emeritus Bishop Hilton Deakin of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, and well-known social justice advocate, Father Bob Maguire.
- In November 2013 ERC facilitated the speaking tour throughout Australia of Vidalina Morales, from the Santa MArta community who has led ADES work in the mining campaign and is now the community-elected president of ADES Santa Marta, and a recognised guest speaker internationally on local community resistence to mining.
- This campaign has been a significant aid to the success of ADES Santa Marta's campaign of working through in the Salvadoran NGO alliance, the No-To-Mining Roundtable, that assisted the Government of El Salvador in its successful defence of the Investor State Dispute Settlement case against it in the World Bank-based tribunal, the International Centre for Settlements of Investment Disputes ("ICSID").
- Further to this victory in March 2017 after significant lobbying by El Salvador's environmental movement and with the important proactive campaigning support of the Archbishop of San Salvador, the Legislative Assembly offered broad-based support for the approval of legislation prepared by the Jesuit University of Central America for a national ban on metals mining.
- Since these victories, the attention of the Water Not Gold campaign, has followed the purposefully divisive practice of the same OceanaGold Corporation to support local community support against the company's largest and most profitable mine at Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya province in the Philippines.
- ERC staff and other in the WNG campaign participated in the July 2020 first anniversary online celebrations of the Didipio mine being closed for one year. That celebration received effusive expressions of support for the local community's year-long mine entrance blockade from Nueva Vizcaya province Governor Carlos M Padilla and from Bishop José Elmer Mangalinao, of the local Diocese of Bayombong.
- Campaign information: https://www.facebook.com/WaterNotGold