AMERICA/CHILE – The University and the “Dialogue for Unity”; For the cardinal, it takes a lot of prayer “if we really want to dialogue”
Santiago (Agenzia Fides) – There are two very useful tools in democracy to confront and propose ideas: debate and dialogue. The debate has one aim, which is to win. We want to win an argument, so we try to persuade the other, we resist, we look for the opponent’s weak argument. The dialogue is very different because the goal is not to win but to understand. One tries to explain himself and invites the other to do so, he looks for a way to listen and the other to listen. We seek the strength of the adversary. It takes self-discipline, tolerance, and resilience to listen to things that can be quite uncomfortable. These are the concepts presented by Alfredo Zamudio, Director of the Chilean Mission of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, during the opening conference of the VI. Social Congress of the UC (Catholic University of Chile) organized by the Directorate of Pastoral Care and Christian Culture. Mr. Zamudio stressed the need to build a common future in which there is not necessarily unity but can be shared in diversity.
Focused on “Dialogue for Unity”, the meeting brought together around 300 people from 100 civil society organizations, including foundations, institutions and companies, who wanted to address the issues shaping national life and, in the light of the social doctrine of the Church, find ways to build a better country.
In this regard, the rector of UC, Ignacio Sánchez, stressed the importance of promoting this type of encounter: “Our public role as a university is manifested in the ability of our institution to promote and strengthen dialogue in our country. So it is necessary for our society. In this sixth edition of the Congress, we wish to respond to the invitation of Pope Francis when he visited Chile and asked us to dialogue for unity. For this reason I would like to invite you to this congress, a dialogue for unity, for our country and for the university”.
Cardinal Celestino Aós, Archbishop of Santiago and Grand Chancellor of UC, led the recitation of the Peace Prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, emphasizing: “Saint Francis of Assisi grew in his love for Church and society, becoming a craftsman and an instrument of peace. That is why we know that intelligence is not enough. If we really want to have a dialogue, we have to start spending a lot of time contemplating Jesus on the cross, praying. Without them we will not be able to open our hearts”.
The Congress was divided into three thematic panels that guided reflection on the most urgent needs: “The Peace Professions”, “The Recognition of a ‘We'” and “Towards a Common Human Project”. In addition, some topics were suggested for discussion in small groups of eight people. The exchange of experiences focused on, among other things, civic friendship, migrations, social economy, integral ecology, etc.
Father Jorge Merino, High Chaplain of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, underlined the atmosphere and attitude of the participants: “It was with great joy that we saw how many people took part; we saw that there was a desire to share, to learn, to build a dialogue, peace and unity”. He then recalled the role of the university in this context:
“We join the words of Pope Francis when he says that the university has to contribute to society. Today we see that in Chile there is a need for a lot of dialogue, a lot of unity and therefore with the simplicity of the University, guided by the Pastoral, we want to contribute to the promotion of dialogue”.
Benjamin Cruz F., UC Pastoral Director, emphasized that this is the first time that Congress has come together again: “It has been valuable to come together, the networks and connections between the institutions and the The great challenge with which this Congress emerges the desire to contribute to Chile, to contribute to a more just and fraternal society”. “This year’s Congress is very relevant to the context in which we live socially, politically and culturally. It’s a very strong response, isn’t it only to remain in dialogue, but also to mobilize action.” The reflections and commitments resulting from the 6th UC Social Congress will be collected in a digital book.
More than two months after the referendum that rejected the new draft Constitution, Chile is still experiencing a deep political, social and economic crisis that has affected people’s daily lives and caused deep ruptures in society (see Fides 15/11/2022 ; 22.11 /2022).
(SL) (Agenzia Fides, 24.11.2022)