KAAD Annual Jubilee Convention 2018- “Global Justice, Common Future – Our Responsibility for Integral Development”

In the 60th year after the foundation of KAAD, the (32.) ceremonial Annual Convention which took place in Bonn from April, 26th to 29th 2018, brought together 226 scholars and 114 guests from 52 countries for an intercultural, interreligious and interdisciplinary dialogue focusing on the role of leadership elites in process and the aim of holistic development. For new borders and walls are emerging ever more clearly from the shadow of a globalisation that is accelerating both technologically and economically: Nationalisms and fundamentalisms for power and recognition of fighting “identities” which convey the impression that an idea of “one world” with its common future (as it is the motto) for humanity is a dream out of touch with the real world of an actually dividing “global community”. Despite cosmopolitan visions, steadily increasing “networking communities” and in technology trusting, even “trans-human”, projections of a feasibly optimal future, the intellectual-political climate is characterized by an anti-utopian spirit.

From a biblical-Christian perspective it is therefore vital to keep alive the promise of an all-encompassing peace of mankind and nature as fruit of that righteousness (Isaiah 32,17). Within this horizon, the Catholic Global Church also unfolds the term “development” which aims at a good life for the whole human being and all of mankind (cf. Populorum progressio, 42). With the encyclical “Laudato si” (2015) of Pope Francis, the close “entanglement” of this profoundly human intention with the entire creation as a common “house” (oikos) was emphasized and a global community working on new “Sustainable Development Goals“ (SDG until 2030) presented, linked to the clear reference to the limits of growth and the necessary change of lifestyle of rich countries and the richer classes of society (LS 193; 201).
How can KAAD understand itself in its work in view of this analysis and target spectrum? At the beginning of the convention, concrete approaches were discussed in continental groups and in a panel discussion of partner committee representatives from the five regions how KAAD with its support of the individual’s personal development and the establishing of strategic networks (as part of the Global Church community) can contribute to a responsible change of elites in the societies of its countries of focus. The speakers of the convention emphasized and supported this contribution both in review and preview of KAAD’s history and future.

Archbishop Schick, Cardinal Turkson and State Secretary Kaiser pay tribute to KAAD’s work

In his sermon of the festive celebration of the International Holy Mass Archbishop Schick (Bamberg), Chairman of the Commission of the Global Church of the German Bishops’ Conference, acknowledged the work of KAAD by calling it beneficial and promoting peace: Since 60 years KAAD had enabled many people from near and far to stand up for making a better future for all of mankind possible, Schick outlined in his sermon. During the following ceremonial act, Cardinal Turkson explained the history and concept of the new Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, led by him as prefect, and stated that its principles and aims had been realised in KAAD’s work. According to Turkson, KAAD was a “form of a full partnership” in service of the church for education and holistic development and a “unique instrument of the communion in our Global Catholic Church”. He said he had great confidence that KAAD would continue to contribute to support future leadership elites who feel a responsibility towards the common house and thus, to contribute to a change of elites through its work. He combined this with an urgent appeal to the assembled scholars to commit themselves to the common good after returning to their home countries.

The Parliamentary State Secretary Klaus Kaiser MdL spoke on behalf for the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, who was unable to attend. Kaiser pointed out the connection between the government’s development policy and the work of KAAD and acknowledged its decades of work for the Global Church. According to Kaiser, KAAD proved – by way of example- that the principle of loving one’s neighbour was not confined to national borders but extended to all of mankind. In view of the global network of partners and alumni he emphasized that KAAD played an important role in sustainable development policy and thus, realised the principle of partnership on equal terms. Kaiser stated that it was more effective to support local elites than sending out foreign “experts”.

Honours, Music, Exhibition and Liturgy: The Jubilee Convention as a Festival

This year’s (7th) prize of the “KAAD Foundation Peter Hünermann” went to Dr. Rafal Dutkiewicz, Mayor of Wroclaw, Poland. With this award, the foundation especially acknowledged his achievements in contributing to a deeper integration of Poland into the EU, for preserving the cultural memory of his city Wroclaw and for promoting Poland’s civil society. Dutkiewicz, who was accompanied by a delegation, also received the German National Prize (“Deutscher Nationalpreis”) in 2017. The laudation was given by the Managing Director of Renovabis, Dr. Gerhard Albert. In his speech, Dutkiewicz referred to his KAAD scholarship (1990-91) as a “decisive broadening of horizons” which still showed him until this very day that “Europe was the future” and “nationalism a thing of the past”. After this thoughtful speech a lively discussion with the audience followed, always coming back to the (personal and structural) conditions of “good governance” and thus, many questions were raised for the prize winner who proved himself to be successful as well as ethically and religiously motivated in his field of political activity.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary, a great number of partners and alumni came from abroad of which eight were honoured with the Bene-merenti Award newly created by Chinese alumnus Zhang Defeng as part of the festive musical soirée. The Chairman of KAAD e.V., Prelate Dr. Klaus Krämer (Missio Aachen), awarded the prize also to the longstanding Vice Chairman Dr. Gerhard Albert (Renovabis) who will step down from his position until the end of summer. Not only classical musical contributions from the European tradition, but also local instruments and songs from the Global South could be heard as part of the soirée, the holy mass and of other festive parts of the convention.  In addition to that, a KAAD hymn composed by the Armenian composer Ovanes Ambartsumian was presented.

A small exhibition at the Haus Venusberg, the event’s location, reminded of the sponsorship of (African) artists in the history of  KAAD, beginning with the renowned sculptor and painter F. X. Nnaggenda (Uganda). Paintings and objects of KAAD Award Winner Mishek Masamvu as well as of Georgina Maxim (both Zimbabwe) and Violet Nantume (Uganda) were presented.

In the jubilee year 2018 we were able to celebrate the International Holy Mass in the large church and Gemende Hl. Geist (Bonn-Venusberg), iconographically marked by the miracle of Pentecost. In an “Encounter in Prayer” the day before, prayers and readings from different Christian denominations and the world’s major religions were spoken and sung. The Annual Convention was thus characterized by a high level of participation of scholars at all levels. The musical soirée and liturgical parts were prepared in a workshop by (music) scholarship holders and alumni, especially from Eastern Europe. The international folklore evening showed once again that the event is a “work in progress”: it is only on the days of the Convention itself that the moderation and presentations of the five continental groups are prepared with a great deal of creative and acting potential. Thus, in the Convention’s resonance chamber the KAAD’s own interdisciplinary richness resounded. The issue that is particularly relevant to a globally oriented (development) policy has already been dealt with by the scholars in our “expert groups” for years. Following the Convention, they met on 29th April to attend their respective internal colloquia.