Seminarians Show Church's Social Doctrine at Work

Project Focuses on Linking Classroom to Real Life Issues

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ROME, MAY 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Students at an international seminary in Rome are being encouraged to connect their social doctrine classes with real pastoral challenges in their home countries.

That was the goal of the Acton Institute's first competition on "Social Doctrine of the Church and Contemporary Issues: How to Use Pastoral Creativity to Promote Human Dignity," held at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae.

The competition, which ended Tuesday, "was designed to connect what seminarians are learning in class to what will be pastoral and intellectual challenges in their future priestly lives," said Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute.

Prizes were awarded to Carlos Mario Gómez Álvarez (diocese of Sonson Rionegro, Columbia), Gamaliel Niyonsaba (diocese of Cyangugu, Rwanda) and Eduardo Augusto Zanom (diocese of Palmas, Brazil).

Gómez explained how Catholic social doctrine has inspired farmers to combat drug trafficking and violence in Colombia; Niyonsaba evaluated a micro-credit program established by Rwandan bishops; and Zanom presented the work of "Fazenda da Esperança" to rehabilitate and reintegrate substance abusers.

The writing project was initially proposed by Father Eamonn O'Higgins, a spiritual director at the college. Father O'Higgins's idea was to allow the seminarians to deepen their understanding of Catholic social doctrine and apply it to problems in their home countries, while encouraging research into innovative and entrepreneurial solutions.