Emmaus International

Alex Zanotelli is an Italian priest and the founder of many peace and social justice move-ments. He has lived in South Sudan and Kenya. He will be at the World Assembly in Jesolo this April to share his experiences.

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How do you view Emmaus?
I've known Emmaus for a long time and the movement has had a significant impact on my life. I’ve been in frequent contact with the Italian communities and Graziano Zoni*. I first encountered Emmaus at Villafranca, where I was impressed by the movement's work. I still had its model in mind when I left to work in the huge slum of Korogocho in Kenya.

What’s so unique about this model?
Three aspects make it admirable:
. It prioritises those left behind. It offers them a chance to give their lives meaning again.
. It doesn’t offer charity, it restores dignity, making use of what society has rejected. For me, that’s what lies at the heart of Emmaus.
. All of this takes place within a community, rather than individually. This collective element is key.

What do you see for Emmaus in the future?
The system we live in leaves ever more people behind. There is so much suffering… Society urgently needs Emmaus communities. The movement is going to have a great deal more work to do in the future.

What challenges will Emmaus have to face?
One of the biggest challenges faced by Emmaus will be the environmental crisis. The system produces so many things which are thrown away. And by making these things useful again, Emmaus gives people back the lives they have been denied.
Emmaus should also continue to share its wonderful experience of community living. The system imprisons individuals, isolating them. Emmaus combats this trend by restoring the concept of living together.
In the face of the challenges posed by religious extremism, Emmaus sets an example for the world: it accepts everyone, regardless of their religion and better still, enables everyone to live together whilst having different beliefs. This is because everyone is welcomed quite simply as a human being.


* Emmaus International Board member from 2007 to 2012