The Ecclesial Network on the Congo Basin Forest (REBAC) and its Role during Oslo Forest Forum 2018

The Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) convened a seminar on Rain Forest in the world from 26-29 June 2018.

Ministers from all over the rain forest countries, scientific community, business people, local communities, civil society activists and faith based organizations exchanged ideas around some topics including:

  • The role of forests in meeting Paris Agreement goals,
  • progress toward meeting no-deforestation commodity supply chain commitments,
  • reducing illegal logging, corruption, and other forest-related crimes,
  • recognizing indigenous rights and reducing violence against environmental defenders

Fr Rigobert Minani SJ., the SECAM focal point of REBAC represented this structure during this gathering. REBAC is a member of the interfaith rain forest initiative whose objective is bringing on the table of “ecological debate”, the ethical dimension of environment. REBAC and other interfaith based organizations explained why faith is an important aspect in the journey of “taking care of our common home”. They bring the spirituality, religion and ethical aspect of ecology into play.

During the interfaith panel REBAC explained how safeguarding the forest is rooted in the African theology, thus bringing the experience of the Church in Africa into play. In deed the forest in Africa has been for centuries the temple for “initiation”, the altar of sacrifice and a monastery for retreat. Safeguarding forests in Africa is then rooted in cosmology, anthropology, and theology. Trees, biodiversity, flora and fauna are integral part of the spirituality that helps understand the concept of “mother earth”. The African theology can also inspire other sciences of nature.

REBAC is the Catholic Church structure in central Africa that works for the safeguarding of Congo Basin forest and its biodiversity. It helps to mobilize the faithful at the grassroot level, promote and deepening “Laudato Si” and raise awareness on ecological matters. It promotes a culture of “integral ecology” by education, research, publication and advocacy but also by preaching and the celebration of the liturgy.

Rigobert Minani SJ.

REBAC focal point.