(Cologne, 1 Oct. 2023) On 30 September KOLPING INTERNATIONAL, a Catholic social association, hosted a Day of Action under the motto “A World Family” in Bergisch Gladbach. Some 400 participants came to Albertus Magnus Gymnasium in Bensberg to discuss One World work and universal church issues. They included 152 delegates to the International Convention of KOLPING INTERNATIONAL who convened on the weekend at Kardinal-Schulte-Haus in Bensberg. Thus, people from almost 50 nations were meeting. It was a Day of Action full of interactions, intercultural exchange and broadening of horizons.
Frank Schwabe, Member of the German Parliament and Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief of the federal government, had come from Berlin. In his opening address, he praised Kolping Families as examples of active Christians and as “jewels of social structure assistance” provided by the German Development Ministry, initiating sustainable changes toward a more just world in many places all over the world.
Kolping sister and television presenter Yvonne Wilicks facilitated two rounds of talks dealing with Kolping as a lay association and a possible role model for the Catholic church and with socio-ecological transformation. KOLPING INTERNATIONAL‘s General Secretary Dr. Markus Demele made it clear that socio-ecological transformation is primarily about distributive justice. In order to improve the living conditions of the poorest, the Global North must accept a loss of prosperity in favour of the Global South. Martina Schaub, chairwoman of the board of VENRO, an umbrella organisation of development and humanitarian non-governmental organisations in Germany, commented that economic growth is not the only goal worth striving for. What is more important is the quality of life, where the focus is not necessarily placed on material things. Fr. Maria Soosai, National Director of Kolping India, stressed the urgency of more equal opportunities in terms of gender participation. As an example, he referred to women in India, who are still subject to discrimination in many respects and are not able to participate fully in social life. Their role and the role of women worldwide must be strengthened – not least because women are central motors for development.
After the panel discussions, the participants of the Day of Action were offered a colourful program in the schoolyard.. The info bus of the Kolping Network for Refugees had come to raise awareness for the issues of refugees and migration. The Kolping Climate Van informed about the global effects of climate change under the motto “It’s getting too hot for Kolping”. Visitors also had an opportunity to determine their ecological footprint. In the afternoon, the participants of the Day of Action had the chance to take part in numerous workshops focusing on a large variety of issues ranging from the presentation of Kolping development projects for adaptation to climate change to feminist development policy or the synodal church.
The Day of Action concluded with an international religious service in the early evening with Msgr. Christoph Huber, General Praeses of KOLPING INTERNATIONAL making an urgent appeal to the Kolping community: Not to capitulate in the face of all the global challenges that had been discussed during the Day of Action, but to persevere, to take action and to remain committed to making this world a better place every day.
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