[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

            March 7, 2002


CUA and U.S. Bishops’ Conference Hold Forum on Society’s Responsibility to Africa

Locked in combat in Afghanistan and weighing a new offensive against Iraq, will America have to engage terrorism on a third front in Africa? Religious figures and human rights advocates believe it’s a distinct possibility if the Western world continues to ignore the poverty, hunger and ethnic strife that can provide fertile soil for the growth of terrorist networks throughout much of Africa.


Representatives from several academic, religious, diplomatic and human rights organizations will discuss these possibilities and ways civil societies can intervene in Africa’s current crisis, in a forum to be held from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday, March 11, in the Slowinski Courtroom at CUA’s Columbus School of Law. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington and CUA chancellor, will deliver opening remarks at the forum, “A Call to Solidarity With Africa: Civil Society’s Contribution to Peace in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” which is being co-organized by CUA and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


“The United States recognizes the threat of terrorism in Africa, but has yet to focus on the causes of ethnic and religious warfare in regions such as the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where years of warfare have contributed to immense social and economic problems,” says CUA law Professor Karla Simon, a coordinator of the event.


Self-interest in just one reason among many that the American bishops have called upon more prosperous nations, as well as individuals and the private sector, to help alleviate the human rights abuses, poverty, illiteracy and ethnic conflicts perpetuating turmoil in Africa. Last year the

bishops issued a statement on the crisis, entitled “A Call to Solidarity With Africa,” which detailed

the steps that must be taken to help. The USCCB believes the needed responses are not only preventive medicine against future terror, but moral imperatives and deeds of compassion among fellow humans, regardless of religion.


To help refocus the attention of policy makers and the general public on Africa’s plight, CUA and the bishops’ conference have invited some of the leading thinkers and activists in the field to gather for a general discussion of the USCCB statement and examination of problems and solutions on the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Speakers from advocacy groups as well as the diplomatic community will provide a springboard for creative ideas that will engage civil society in addressing these issues. Scheduled speakers at the event include:


q       Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington

q       Suliman Ali Baldo, Human Rights Watch

q       Francis Deng, Ralph Bunche Institute, CUNY Graduate Center

q       The Rev. Michael Perry, O.F.M., United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

q       John Prendergast, International Crisis Group

q       Nina Shea, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

q       Karla Simon, Catholic University Columbus School of Law and Center for International Social Development

q       William Zartman, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University


The event is free and open to the public and will conclude with a reception. Sponsors of the forum include: the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace; the Center for International Social Development; The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and Department of Politics, and Catholic Relief Services.


For more information, contact Tom Haederle at 202-319-5438 or Chris Harrison 202-319-6976.



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Revised: Feb. 18, 2002

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The Catholic University of America,
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