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Vol. XVI, No. 21 20 December 2012
From the Provinces
BRAZIL: "Fe y Alegría Amazonas" Promotes the Culture in the Street
Culture in the Street was a project devised by Fe y Alegría, the movement for popular education and social promotion. The aim of the project is to interact with the Manaus population in the Amazon. Students in the middle school staged a number of musical plays: these grew out of the knowledge they acquired from their interdisciplinary studies in language, texts, interpretation, and the staging techniques developed in their art classes. They presented their work in Ponta Negra, an area where people from various parts of the town congregate. First year students of the grade school staged plays which grew from the knowledge they gained from their studies on the economic and social consequences of drug addiction. Third year students produced heart-felt poems which focused on the tragedy of leprosy, especially on the discrimination and isolation which has accompanied this illness in the past. Through culture, Fe y Alegría wanted to draw attention to social issues which affect the lives of ordinary people every day. The project gave young people the opportunity to develop their socio-cultural skills through sharing the knowledge they had acquired with those who attended the presentations.
BURUNDI: The Jesuits for the Education of Women
To educate women means to advance the whole society in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Towards this end, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is investing in educational projects specifically aimed at women. Women are the real engine of Burundian society, but they are still massively excluded from access to education and the opportunity to achieve full and dignified personal development. According to official UNESCO figures, only 31% of girls, in fact, continue to attend classes at the end of primary school. To raise the level of education of women will make them not only more confident people who are aware of their capabilities, but it will also serve as a fundamental contribution to the development of local communities and society at large. Among the major obstacles to women continuing to attend school are the early marriages of young girls. As a result of these marriages, they leave school because their husbands want them at home and to work in the fields. To make men aware to send their daughters or their wives to school is therefore a central plank in this JRS project.
CANADA: Mission and Ecology Commission
The Jesuits in English Canada launched a Province Commission on Mission and Ecology, a response to the call of the Society to "appreciate more deeply our covenant with creation" (GC 35, D3, 36) and to recognize that care of the earth "touches the core of our faith in and love for God" (GC 35, D 3, 32). Furthermore, this Commission is a response to the invitation of the Task Force on Jesuit Mission and Ecology to integrate ecology into our mission and community life (Healing A Broken World, "Promotio Justitiae" No. 106, 2011/12, by the Roman Secretariat for Social Juctice and Ecology). Peter Bisson SJ, the Provincial of Jesuits of English Cannada, outlined the Commission's mandate: it will assist the Province in the service of faith and promotion of justice by integrating ecology into its ministries, community life, and way of proceeding. It will help integrate the right relationship with creation with the right relationship with God and with others. The Commission will assist the Province in the service of faith by integrating ecology into our practice of the Spiritual Exercises in a way that is theologically well-grounded, Christocentric, attentive to Catholic social teaching, and to the central moral importance of the human in creation. The Commission will encourage stewardship by developing guidelines for responsible care of our land properties; as well as advocacy, by suggesting areas of advocacy for the Province or any of our ministries, in consultation with the Social and International Commission. The Commission is the fruit of almost thirty years of sustained reflection among Canadian Jesuits and their collaborators on the question of ecology and faith. The Mission and Ecology Commission is composed of theologians, scientists, a philosopher, a rural sociologist, a canon lawyer, and a collaborator rooted in the Spiritual Exercises. This is indeed a diverse group, but there seems to be no other way to engage with the "wicked problems" posed by the complexities of living the right relationship with God, with creation, and with all peoples.
PHILIPPINES: "Greening" Jesuit Houses
Young Jesuit students in the Loyola House of Studies located in the Ateneo de Manila University campus have embarked on a series of initiatives to raise awareness about the care for the environment in community lifestyle and house management. The initiative began with an informal group of junior philosophers who had a common interest in the environment, but the practical projects were few and far between. The current group was prompted by General Congregation 35 and further fuelled by "Healing a Broken World," a document published in 2011 by the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology, which serves as a guiding document for activities focused on the environment. The scholastics are conducting a waste audit to obtain data on the amount and type of waste generated by the community. They will also collect information on the frequency of garbage collection, and whether segregation is practiced at the end-point of waste collection. As part of their solid waste management efforts, they are undertaking a small-scale composting activity. They are now doing "backyard" composting, while they are looking for a site that can be used for the long-term. The scholastics are also engaged in "greening" activities. They are recovering and rehabilitating seedlings which were planted during the last school year. Due to summer activities and duties, some of the seedlings perished, but new seedlings are already germinating. In addition, they recently published the first issue of Green Jesuits, an online magazine in which they share their initiatives and experiences. Environment initiatives are now a mainstream focus of the Philippine Province, and these initiatives demonstrate a true love and concern for the environment, and a commitment to this new dimension of the Jesuit mission.
FRANCE: A Good Scout by Papal Decree
Pope Benedict XVI recently signed a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of French Jesuit, Fr Jacques Sevin (1882-1951). Fr Sevin founded the Scout Movement in France. He saw the possibilities for Ignatian pedagogy in the movement which was founded in 1907 by Robert Baden Powell. After its initial success, the Scout Movement was criticized sharply by many Catholics, including a writer in the French Jesuit magazine Etudes. Jacques Sevin, then a young Jesuit student, spent the summer of 1913 in England seeing the movement for himself. He met and befriended Baden Powell, spent time in scout camps, and dreamed of taking the movement to France. By 1919 he had produced his handbook on scouts, a blueprint which embodied his vision of its pedagogy. In 1920 he founded the Association of French Scouts, and a few years later the World Scout Movement. He saw scouting as more than a way of developing adult Christians. He wanted it to develop the faith of the young scouts and to integrate them into the Catholic Church. It would be a resource for developing committed lay people and a source of religious vocations. He saw the scouts as a means of renewing the pedagogy in Jesuit schools, which he believed had lost some of its original missionary spirit. He saw in the scouts a way to encourage an active, generous and missionary spirit among young people. Jacques Sevin's own spirituality was marked by his familiarity not only with the influence of Ignatius but also with those of Teresa of Avila and Thérèse of Lisieux.
ITALY: Education Takes People on a Journey of Discovery
In collaboration with the magazine Popoli and a number of other associations, Magis, the NGO of the Italian Jesuits, launched the campaign "Education takes people on a journey of discovery". As we know, education is a priority for Jesuits. "After three years in Chad, I am convinced that international cooperation in Africa has to focus on the education of young people," says 38 year old Jesuit priest and doctor, Renato Colizzi. "Africa - he adds - is rich in natural resources, but social and cultural leadership is missing." This severe lacuna often reduces countries and entire regions to areas of conflict and political instability. "Instead of fighting corruption and engaging fairly for the common good, many leaders have used their power for selfish purposes. Clearly, it is necessary to reverse this," says Fr Colizzi. With the campaign slogan - "To educate means to lead far away" - Magis aims to sensitize public opinion in Italy and the students of about twenty Italian schools on the "liberating dimension of the educational process."
ROME: Google and Gregorian University
From September this year, more than 2,200 books and magazines of Gregorian&Biblical Press (GBPress), the publisher of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute, have been available all over the world, not only in paper form, but also in digital editions. This is the result of an agreement with Google Books and Google Play, negotiated by Renato Reggiani for Ram Multimedia.it. Google Books is the most accessed online library in the world. It is used by students, researchers, and university professors: now all of GBPress books will be offered for purchase in digital format. In addition to classical bibliographic references, the service will also provide a free preview of some parts of the books. Google Play is the online shop of Google Books. Thanks to new technology, Google Play makes a purchased text immediately available on any computer, tablet, ipad and cellular phone, without even necessarily downloading it. Not only recent publications of the Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute, but also past doctoral theses, and out of stock volumes will now again be available in online digital form. They can be downloaded and read even in the absence of an internet connection. This development has been an editorial success - several thousands of books have already been sold in this format. But this new distribution of e-book also involves a reduction in paper, energy and CO2 emissions, making GBPress ever more energy conscious and environmentally sensitive.
PERU: Seminar on Human Rights
The International Seminar on "Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean" was recently held in Lima, Peru. It was organized by the Faculty of Law of the Jesuit University Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (UARM). It was attended by eminent scholars and personalities of the region. The two days were devoted to analyzing the situation of human rights in Latin America, and to setting out some requirements for the full implementation of these rights. The participants concluded that, although the overall situation has improved with regard to the protection of life and the integrity of the people, new challenges have, however, emerged: there is an increase of crime involving more and more young people, political regimes are placing pressures on civil liberties, and the inequalities in the different societies, which restrict access to fundamental rights, continues. In response to these, participants offered protection strategies through legal instruments: these involve the reinforcement of the inter-American system on human rights, and the implementation of a large-scale training plan designed to prepare advocates of human right. One initiative is the postgraduate degree on human rights offered by several Jesuit Latin American Universities under the auspices of the Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos. This scheme has already produced more than 700 graduates in a dozen countries of the continent.
SPAIN: Communities of Solidarity
At the end of November, a meeting on Communities of Solidarity: New Life Styles of Communitarian Life was held in Madrid. Twenty four Jesuits and their lay collaborators, who live together in mixed communities, participated in the meeting. They came from all over Europe. The lay people are members of groups who are in process of being socially reintegrated, for example immigrants or prisoners. In the last Congregation of Procurators of the Society of Jesus, Father General stressed the importance of this type of community. José Ignacio García SJ, the Social Coordinator of CEP, the Conference of European Provincials, enumerated the purpose of the meeting: "The goal is to share both new and not so new communitarian lifestyles. In recent years, we have witnessed innovations in our way of living the community. So, a number of new experiences have emerged in different Provinces. Examples are the communities in which Jesuits and lay people, who are in the process of reintegration after serving prison sentences, are living together. There are also communities which open their doors for several months to young immigrants or to refugees. There are yet other communities of insertion which face new inter-cultural and inter-religious challenges. And so, there is a considerable range of initiatives which we would like to introduce and about which we wish to share. We would also like to draw up a short document which could help Provinces to discern future decisions they may make about these matters." The idea of this meeting emerged during the gathering of social delegates of the European Provinces which was held in Malta last April.
TAIWAN: A Film on Giuseppe Castiglione
The Kuangchi Program Service (KPS), the Studio run by Jesuits in Taipei (Taiwan), is launching a four part television documentary film on the Italian Jesuit artist, Br Giuseppe Castiglione (Milan 1688-Beijing 1766). He was a painter in the court of the Chinese emperors. The working title is Giuseppe Castiglione in China - Imperial Painter, Humble Servant. It will be distributed and broadcast throughout the vast territory of China by Chinese Central TV (CCTV), as well as by other broadcasters in China. The Kuangchi Program Service has already produced documentary films on Paul Xu Guangqi, the disciple of Matteo Ricci, and on Fr Adam Schall. This latter programme attracted more than 200 million viewers. Through these films, the Chinese people learn about the missionary motivation of these Jesuits and their collaborators, as well as about their contribution to the cultural and scientific development of China. Fr Jerry Martinson SJ, the Vice-president of the KPS, noted: "While the majority of Chinese knows the names of Ricci, Xu and Schall, and may have a vague idea of their role in Chinese history, few people are aware of their religious motivations. In contrast, these documentaries present a real and, as far as possible, complete picture of the best examples of the initial missionary activity of the Jesuits in China. We believe that these products have been successful in correcting and improving the perception that the majority has of the Chinese Catholic missionary activity. "
USA: Statement on Taxes and Fiscal Cliff
The Jesuit Conference of the United States released recently a Statement on taxes and the fiscal cliff asking those involved in the debate to remember the Americans who are standing at the edge of this cliff. Some excerpts from the Statement follow. "Policymakers in Washington face difficult choices as they attempt to reach a deficit reduction agreement before year's end. Their decisions will have long-lasting implications for our nation's future, and underlying these decisions is a moral question: What kind of society do we want to be? Presumably a moral one, and being a moral society requires feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and caring for the sick. A moral society also shares burdens in difficult times; therefore it asks more from its members who have more. Accordingly, the Jesuit Conference ... opposes any deficit reduction plan that requires more from those who have less by balancing the nation's budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. Government has a responsibility to provide for its citizens in their time of need, particularly those who cannot provide for themselves." After an analysis of the economic situation in the country, the Statement concludes: "The Jesuit Conference of the United States supports a tax system that seeks more from the economically prosperous because doing so is a fiscally sound and equitable means to balance the budget. Deficit reduction must not increase the burden on members of our society who have seen incomes decline, jobs disappear and public benefits evaporate. Rather, now is the time to commit to just and fair deficit reduction policies that foster the common good and protect the most vulnerable members of our society." See: www.jesuit.org
International Networking. At the end of April 2012, encouraged by the call made by the 35th General Congregation to promote international networking, a group of Jesuits and lay partners from all over the world gathered at Boston College (USA) to reflect on the matter. The group reviewed the concept and current experience of networking, its relationship to the universal mission of the Society of Jesus, its spiritual foundations and heritage, its organizational and governance mechanisms, and the challenges that it poses to the present structure and way of proceeding. In the last few days a document generated on the topic as been released and sent out to the whole Society of Jesus with the idea of sharing this systematization and promoting the reflection on this new organizational challenge posed to our international body by demand from our universal mission. It may be useful for our own institutions and individual considerations. You can maintain a conversation and a common reflection at http://www.jesuitnetworking.org. In this site you can download the final document (English and Spanish) along with other specific papers on the topic, and will be the reference for future proposals. This is an initiative of the Jesuit Institute and the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College, together with Entreculturas - Fe y Alegría Foundation, in collaboration with the Secretariat of Collaboration. Contact and further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Press and Information Office notes that the next Electronic Bulletin
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In February it will resume its regular Bulletins