The Laudato Si’ International Group aims at reflecting and spreading the message of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’. While the Milarepa Foundation has a Laudato Si’ Group for Chile the Fellows are invited to join because of their outstanding international contribution to the aims of the Milarepa Foundation, that is dialogue with Asia, and their commitment to the message of Laudato Si and interfaith dialogue. The General Secretary of Laudato Si’ International is Dr James Morris, who conducted research on Christianity in Japan and who is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
The Laudato Si’ International group welcomes two new fellows: His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi and Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Imo Tamasese of Samoa. From 1976 to 1982, Tui Atua served two terms as Prime Minister, and from 2007 to 2017 served two terms as Head of State. In the late 1980s, Tui Atua was part of the South Commission, whose report The Challenge to the South sought to upgrade the international community by raising developing countries to an equality of status. In 2005, Tui Atua served as the Oceania representative to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, writing that: ‘Harmony in the Samoan indigenous religion finds equivalence and balance in all living things. To respect nature is to respect man; to respect one’s fellow men is to respect one’s self; respecting the soul is to respect the body and mind; respecting life is to respect death.’
These scholarly interventions develop a method of using the ‘Samoan indigenous reference’ as a means of engaging contemporary issues, with the aim of trying to find new ways of living in harmony. Tui Atua’s scholarship has been recognised through academic fellowships in several universities in New Zealand and Australia. He has made prominent keynote addresses to the East-West Centre in Hawai’i and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and served as Chancellor to the National University of Samoa from 2008 to 2013. Tui Atua has continued supporting Pope Francis and encouraging dialogue and indigenous knowledge. In June 2019 Tui Atua received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, see https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/graduation/2019/laureation-addresses/tui-atua/
We welcome His Highness and Her Highness to this Fellowship of dialogue with joy, and we hope to strengthen the visits and conversations between Laudato Si’ International and Samoa.
Laudato Si’ International Fellows:
Dr James Morris (General Secretary, Japan)
His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi (Samoa)
Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Imo Tamasese (Samoa)
Dr Mohamed Al-Hinai (Oman)
Dr Gordon T. Barclay (Scotland, UK)
Dr Eve Parker (England, UK)
Professor M.I. Aguilar (Chile, Scotland, UK)