Issue 1905

Social Capital: An indispensable resource for quality of life

A human being’s ability to react to negative events is remarkable. As research shows, the consequences of a trauma depend largely on how individuals interpret the occurrence, their core values, and above all whether they face it alone or have someone close by who can help. The ancients taught that a human being is by nature a political animal; and a sense of community is one of our main forms of protection because “communities that possess a strong system of meaning can cope very well with disasters and violent conflicts.”[1] As confirmed by research in places torn apart by wars...

By: Giovanni Cucci, SJ

The New Silk Road in Central Asia

Seven years ago, when living in Southern Kyrgyzstan, I met a German tourist who had tried to cycle south through the mountains from the capital city, Bishkek. He had taken the Eastern road leading from Issyk Kul to Jalalabad. The road was marked on the map, but it was actually a secondary track paved in stone, which had cost him several tires and a great deal of anger. That was 2011. Today, that track has been replaced by an eight-lane highway, traveled by trucks transporting Chinese products to Central Asia and beyond, toward the Middle East and Europe. China built...

By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

Citizens and the Making of Europe

Reflecting on the future of our continent, some politicians, parties and movements seem to put into doubt not only the European Union as we know it, but even the very existence of the process of building Europe. How should we orient ourselves before these tensions, the fruit of the lack of trust and nationalist sentiment? Let us take a step back, to Compiègne, where in 1918 an armistice was signed, silencing the guns and bringing an end to a destructive conflict, World War I. However, it also ended up creating the conditions for a second conflict in Europe, which 21...

By: Antonio Spadaro, SJ

Taoism and Ecology

As the ancient Chinese philosophers Laozi and Zhuangzi advocated more than 2,500 years ago, humanity must work to live in harmony with nature to keep the planet green, clean and safe. The call to keep global development balanced while protecting the environment was made a long time ago. Laozi and Zhuangzi are considered the two most important figures in Taoism, and their teachings and writings have largely influenced environmental and ecological development in China as well as other regions. In this paper, we shall explore how Taoism and ecological ethics can help to reconstruct a more harmonious world.  Taoism in...

By: You Guo Jiang, SJ

If Faith is Weak, then so is Doubt

A few years ago, Conrad Hackett, head of the team that published the Pew Research Center’s report on the spread of different religions, made this statement to the Wall Street Journal: “Between 2015 and 2020, Christians are projected to experience the largest losses due to switching. Globally, about 5 million people are expected to become Christians in this five-year period, while 13 million are expected to leave Christianity, with most of these departures joining the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated.” In reference to Europe, he said: “In the majority of countries, including England, Germany and Italy, deaths among Christians have...

By: Giandomenico Mucci, SJ

Peaceful Uses of Solar System Resources

In June 2018, the Holy See participated at the United Nations UNISPACE+50 Conference in Vienna, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first such UN conference on the peaceful uses of outer space. Leading up to that meeting, in March 2018 the Vatican Observatory had helped organize a workshop at our headquarters in the papal summer gardens outside of Rome to discuss the broader issues of the peaceful uses of space and space technology. The seminar was attended by 30 participants from nine countries, including scientists, diplomats, educators and representatives from space-related industries. At UNISPACE+50, I summarized the results of that...

By: Guy Consolmagno, SJ

Catholicism Faces the Illiberal World Order

The Liberal World Order that grew up after the Second World War and matured after the European revolutions of 1989 is now in decline. Values like human rights, the rule of law, democracy, the free movement of peoples, religious and cultural pluralism, and free trade are under challenge. The allure of internationalist liberalism began to fade in the last decade with the failure of the Arab Spring. Today, with the resurgence of ethno-nationalism across Europe and the United States, it seems to be gravely damaged. This article examines the close, though not uncritical, relationship between Catholic Social Teaching, the Church’s...

By: Drew Christiansen SJ

‘Alganesh’: From Horror to Hope

Before the landings, which appear daily in the newspapers and the media, and the tragedies at sea, what happens to the refugees and displaced persons who cross the desert? The film Alganesh: Hope on the Horizon,[1] by the team of directors, Lia and Marianna Beltrami, answers this question. Lia and Marianna are a mother-and-daughter team and part of the group Women for Peace in Jerusalem. Lia won the Golden Lion for Peace Award in 2017. The documentary received a special mention at the last Siloe Film Festival, in the following terms: “It witnesses with power and brightness to one of...

By: Giancarlo Pani SJ
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