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    Vol. XVII, No. 5 5 mars 2013

    From the Curia


    JRS Meeting on Advocacy for Middle East/North Africa and Europe.  On 21-22 February Jesuit Refugee Service representatives from Syria, Brussels, Berlin, Malta, and Italy met in Rome with members of the JRS International Office team to discuss the current crises in Syria and Mali that pose severe challenges to many European countries. While the number of Middle Eastern displaced people and refugees has grown dramatically in recent years due to violent conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the Sahel region, stretching from Mali in the west to Chad and Sudan in the east has become an equally volatile area.  Poverty, lack of development, desertification, as well as the influence of radical Islamic groups and well-armed rebels are all factors that destabilize the Sahel. In addition, the Sahara has become an important route for both human trafficking from Africa to Europe and drug trafficking from South America to Europe.

    JRS teams currently work in the Middle East with refugees and displaced peoples in Syria, Jordan Turkey and Lebanon; and in the Sahel with refugees from Darfur in Sudan and Chad. Refugees from Mali have already begun to arrive in Rome where they receive assistance at Centro Astalli. Although a further increase in the flow of refugees towards Europe has long been predicted, European capitals and governments seem unable to respond in humane ways and have no coherent policy for offering protection to those in need at the doorsteps of Europe.

    In response to crisis in Syria, JRS teams in Aleppo have begun to coordinate groups of volunteers from across the religious traditions and political viewpoints to work together to bring relief to tens of thousands of people. JRS believes that this important group of people and their cry for peaceful change is often ignored by the international press and world governments. The meeting in Rome began to define objectives and strategies for a joint advocacy campaign in European capitals that would give voice to this alternative "narrative" of peace and reconciliation. 


    From the 4-16 March, the Colloquium for English Speaking New Provincials, for Provincials appointed during the past year, is taking place at the General Curia in Rome. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the opportunity for reflection on important issues of provincial government.  Matters raised will include the accounts of conscience and personal accompaniment, the animating of community life, insertion into the reality of the local Church, the mission at the frontiers, and interprovincial and international collaboration. Father General will speak about the challenges and the new guidelines of the Society, while study groups will examine in depth the speech of Fr. Nicolás in Nairobi last year, the De Statu Societatis. The colloquium is also useful to introduce new Provincials to the various offices and services of the General Curia.  It provides personal contact with the staff of Father General in the government of the universal Society.  These include the Secretary, the Procurator General, the Treasurer General, the Secretariats, and JRS.  Issues related to the various international Roman houses are also discussed.  This time there are 14 participants who come from the 6 Jesuit Conferences. 


    From the Provinces


    AUSTRALIA: Forty Years of Indigenous Ministry

    Forty years after the Jesuits re-established their mission among Indigenous people at Balgo, Australian Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ says the Jesuits' commitment to Indigenous ministry remains strong. A letter was sent out to the Province last month to mark the anniversary, and to encourage people to continue to deepen their engagement with Indigenous people. "Around this time, forty years ago, Fr. Peter Kelly, as Provincial, decided to mission Pat Mullins and Brian McCoy to Balgo Mission as part of their regency. This was a new and challenging decision for our Province. When we departed from the Daly River Mission in 1899, we became separated from our relationships and ministry with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for some seventy years." Father Curtin says. "Since 1973, a number of Jesuits have continued to live and work with Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and also form significant links with other Jesuits and Indigenous people in the Asia Pacific Assistancy, in North America and beyond. We are fortunate as a Province to have some Aboriginal people now in our various ministries and also some initiatives that involve forming close and developing relationships with them and their communities. At the same time, it is obvious that the Jesuits who have been in this are now getting older and are not being replaced by younger men. What remains encouraging is that there are more and more of our lay colleagues who have expressed interest and commitment to this work." For the full text of the letter see: www.express.org.au


    COLOMBIA: Conservation of the Andean Amazon

    The Pontifical Javeriana University of the Jesuits in Bogota will work in partnership with the Universidad Internacional de la Florida and the Universidad de la Amazonía on a proposal for conservation and institutional strengthening of the Colombian Amazon piedmont. The project, called "Strengthening local capacity for prioritizing conservation research and action in the Colombian Andean-Amazon: A networked approach", was approved by the Initiative for the Conservation in the Andean-Amazon (ICAA). The main objective of this proposal is to strengthen cooperation in higher education programs in order to consolidate processes that reinforce strategies of conservation of this important region of Colombia. The Colombian Andean-Amazon region has an extraordinary biological and cultural diversity; however it is still poorly studied and subjected to strong processes of transformation of the landscape.  The interaction between the different academic programs of the universities participating in the proposal, as well as with the public and private sector through the various activities that are covered in the baseline plan for two years and a half, no doubt will strengthen the institutional mission of the Javeriana about the proper management of natural resources and will increase and encourage the presence of the University at regional and local level.


    COLOMBIA: Treatment of Metabolic Diseases

    From now on, people in Colombia who suffer from very rare metabolic diseases, difficult to diagnose and to treat, can count on the multidisciplinary support of specialists which integrate the Clínica de Errores Innatos del Metabolismo, a new service of St. Ignatius University Hospital opened recently in Bogotá. Before opening this interdisciplinary clinic, St. Ignatius Hospital and the Javeriana University have been studying and diagnosing for more than 30 years the metabolic diseases through the Institution de Errores Innatos del Metabolismo and the Genetic Institute. "Following the trend of countries with an advanced medicine, we realized that the best way to ensure early diagnosis and effective treatment is to address these genetic diseases from a multidisciplinary perspective," explained Julio Cesar Castellanos, director of St. Ignatius Hospital. The new clinic will prevent the patient to go for years from one specialist to another since it has a group of professionals dedicated to these studies and treatment with the support of innovative technology to perform complex laboratory tests requiring the diagnosis of these diseases, classified rare due to their low frequency. The name Errores Innatos del Metabolismo (EIM) refers to a thousand different genetic diseases whose symptoms can affect many organs and functions and have a serious impact on the quality of life of the patient and his family.


    ITALY: Matteo Ricci, a Step Forward

    Matteo Ricci, the Italian Jesuit priest who played a key role in introducing Christianity to China in the 16th century, will take his next official step towards sainthood on May 11.  Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata, Ricci's hometown in central Italy, announced on February 9 that the Jesuit's beatification "process" has been closed on that date at the Diocesan level. The initial process began in 1984 with the Jesuit being declared a "servant of God" but further progress stalled soon after. The "process" was reopened by Giuliodori in 2010, during celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the Ricci's death. Following Church law, Giuliodori created a tribunal tasked with hearing witnesses and collecting information to ascertain whether people considered Ricci a holy man during and after his lifetime, and whether devotion to him still exists. Jesuit Fr. Tony Witwer is the Postulator, charged with bringing Ricci's cause forward. The tribunal will officially wind down on May 11 and all documents will be sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where they will be evaluated by historians, theologians and cardinals. Born in Macerata in 1552, Ricci died in Beijing in 1610. While in China, Ricci became the first Westerner to be invited into the Forbidden City, acted as a court advisor on Europe and its culture, and obtained the Emperor's protection and support.


    ITALY: One Hundred Years of Publications

    In this year 2013 the Pontifical Biblical Institute celebrates one hundred years of publishing activity, of which 30 together with the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 2009 the Pontifical Biblical Institute celebrated the centenary of its establishment on May 7, 1909. In the course of a century the Institute contributed significantly to scientific biblical research through the teaching of biblical disciplines and, as underlined by Benedict XVI, "through the publication of qualified studies and specialized magazines" (Papal Audience to Pontifical Biblical Institute, 26th October 2009). The publishing activity of studies and exegetical research, through collections and scientific journals, began to take shape as a true editorial activity with Fr. Alberto Vaccari, who was the first moderator from 1913 to 1920. From the year 1913, therefore, we can date the start of an editorial coordination of scientific publications by the professors of the institute, through the birth of the collection Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici (more than one hundred volumes, from 1913 to 1964). With Fr. José Antonio Esquivel, in charge from 1981 until 1984, the services of publications and libraries of the Biblical Institute were matched with those of the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1983 the publisher PUG-PIB was founded, which from 2009 will take the brand GBPress-Gregorian & Biblical Press, as a single section for editorial and printing services for the two institutes and for the management of the library at the Gregorian University with the addition of a branch specialized on the Christian East at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The whole activity has assets of more than 1.600 titles and 7 international scientific journals, 3 yearly and four quarterly. See: www.biblico.it.


    MEXICO: Learning from the Mayan Peoples

    Fr José Javier Avilés Arriola SJ, Vicar for Justice and Peace, Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico), writes: "The Mayan gods created man and woman to live in harmony with nature and everything around them. The Popol Vuh (the Mayan book of creation) says: 'All was in suspense, all calm, in silence; all motionless, still, and the expanse of the sky was empty...  Then came the word... and the creators talked among themselves, deliberating and meditating; they agreed, they conferred... Then they planned creation... the birth of life and the creation of man and woman.' The message is similar to the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, of St Ignatius of Loyola: 'The person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.' Today's anti-Gospel world preaches values that leave the vast majority of people in poverty: individualism, consumerism, accumulation of capital and wealth for a few. The indigenous Mayan peoples show a different way. Marginalized and discriminated against, they offer us a wealth of values similar to the Gospel values, through which God is manifest (...). We Jesuits, who have worked in the northern state of Chiapas for more than 50 years, witness daily the presence of God among the Mayan peoples. For the Tzeltales (the largest ethnic group in Chiapas, descendants of the Mayans), la Vida Buena, 'the good life', means creating harmony in the individual, family and community, with nature and with God. Building harmony is a core value. The values of the Tzeltales are not only principles; they are a way of life that leads us to the Gospel values."


    NEPAL: Refugees in Search of a Bright Future

    As the camp population decreases and the international resettlement effort continues, JRS  (Jesuit Refugee Service) celebrates the mass resettlement from Nepal. 75.000 Bhutanese refugees are leaving Nepal for a new life with her families. After experiencing years of cultural conflict and government oppression in Bhutan, the Nepali-speaking families began fleeing to Nepal in the early 1990s, and for many, their dream of a new life is only now beginning to be realized. "This is the dream of JRS and Caritas coming true. We're really happy to see them off and see the camps closed", said P.S. Amal SJ, JRS Nepal Director. More than 63,000 refugees have been resettled to the United States, with others going to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Europe.
    "Our first night in Nepal, I burst into tears. Imagine, there was no bed, no mattress, no quilt, no pillow and above all we didn't feel safe. We slept on wooden planks. Imagine having to wait until others finished cooking and eating before you could borrow their utensils. We felt like beggars", said Prahlad Dahal, former Caritas employee, who was resettled with his family in Australia. Fr P.S. Amal said while there is no plan for refugees who choose to stay in Nepal, JRS and other partner agencies are working together to see what can be done. For instance, some advocacy groups are working with the Department of Education in Nepal to ensure refugees access to local schools and universities. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has offered to fund a new community-based development programme, offering a combination of vocational training, grants and small loans, to assist refugees in becoming self-sufficient; but it is still awaiting government approval.


    USA: Woodstock Theological Center to Close

    The Woodstock Theological Center, on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington -- will close at the end of June. The enormous transformations experienced in the last forty years have changed the context and way of conducting theological reflection, requiring a new perspective on how to accomplish this important service of the Church. More recently, the Jesuits of the U.S. Provinces have engaged in a strategic review of how best to meet the challenges and priorities of the Society's mission in the 21st century. Father Reese, a senior fellow of Woodstock, said the decision to close was the culmination of "a process that's been going on for the past few months." But Woodstock won't simply just fade away. Its library, on the Georgetown grounds, will remain open. "Some of the programs that had been endowed we're looking to see if Georgetown will be willing to take these over, and certainly the work of publications, the documents that Woodstock did are out there for people," Father Reese said. The center's website is www.woodstockcenter.org.





    The Conclave. There are six Jesuit Cardinals currently living, but only one of them will participate in the next conclave, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina).  The other Cardinal entitled to participate, Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, former Archbishop of Jakarta (Indonesia), is unable to attend due to ill health.  From the statistics prepared by the Pontifical Gregorian University there are 57 Cardinal alumni of our pontifical institutions in Rome, the Gregorian and the Biblicum (49,6% of all participants in the Conclave).  Two of them were also professors at the Gregorian University, Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan and Cardinal Walter Kasper.