Wednesday, January 7, 2009


ANS News ROME, JANUARY 6, 2008: “Jeffrey and the Human Rights Bag” was the video which introduced the day on Sunday January 4, at the International Congress “The Preventive System and Human Rights”, in progress at the Salesianum in Rome. The video was accompanied by a commentary by Fr Juan Linares, the Salesian Director of “Muchachos y Muchachas con Don Bosco” in the Dominican Republic. Before the work in the Hall began there was a short greeting and message of encouragement from Giovanni Maria Flick, President of the Italian Constitutional Court and a Salesian Past Pupil. In speaking to the assembly, he invited them – while working for the safeguarding of Human Rights – to be on their guard against the danger of mere intellectualising or theorising – necessary though these were in the work of scholars and exponents of law. In addition the President of the Constitutional Court pointed out that as a foundation was the recognition of the equal dignity of each person: “Dignity is linked to equality. We are all equal, while being all different, and having every right to our diversity and to our identity. I think of Don Bosco’s method as the example and the model in order to avoid any forced assimilation in which all are compelled to be the same, which is the marginalisation of those who are different.” The first talk in the morning was given by Prof. Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, Special Representative of the United Nations on the Right to Education. Drawing on his own personal and professional experience Prof. Muñoz pointed out the relationship between human, social and cultural development and the ability to acquire knowledge and to learn. As he sees it, Human Rights is not a matter for dry discussion, but an area in which learning and living constitute a single process which can be considered education. Therefore education needs to be promoted as a fundamental right in order to form active, inclusive, responsible and autonomous citizens. The morning’s work in the Hall was concluded with the talk on Human Rights in the light of the Preventive System given by Fr Pascual Chávez, Rector Major of the Salesians. Fr Chávez once again referred to the current educational emergency highlighted by Pope Benedict XVI, and then dealt with the characteristics of Don Bosco’s Preventive System. Among the characteristic features of the original educative insight of Don Bosco, the Rector Major mentioned the central role and the active involvement of the young people, the preventive culture, the experience of community, the integral educative project, which starts from a Christian understanding of the individual and of life and one which has a social projection. “Faced with this educational emergency, we Salesians,” – Fr Chávez added, “we are the bearers of a pedagogical charism that is more relevant and necessary than ever: the Preventive System of Don Bosco. This is our treasure, the contribution we are called to make to the young people and to present day society, our prophetic role. Now I should like to draw your attention to the need to renew the Preventive System of Don Bosco in close connection with the promotion and the defence of Human Rights, in particular the rights of the young, as an approach to education that a capable of creating a culture and of establishing society in a state of education.” While the morning’s work was coming to an end, in St Peter’s Square, after his Sunday message and the prayer of the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Congress, encouraging those taking part wherever they might be working to promote and safeguard human rights, words which those at the Congress heard and saw on the screen in the Assembly Hall. Commenting on the Pope’s message for the Italian TV programme “In his image” then being broadcast live by RAI 1 from the Salesianum, the Rector Major was one a several people at the Congress who were interviewed. Group work continued in the afternoon and then in the Assembly Hall there was an interesting session in which the two morning’s speakers replied to questions from the Assembly. In the evening after Mass at which Fr Francesco Cereda, Councillor for Formation, presided, those attending the Congress were the guests of Piero Marrazzo, President of the Lazio Region at a reception in the Palazzo Rospigliosi.

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