The coordinators for JPIC of the European provinces met at Bamberg, Germany and enjoyed the hospitality of the community and a guided tour of the town.
Minutes of the meeting of the JPIC coordinators
Bamberg, 9-11 April 2008
The coordinators for JPIC of the European provinces met at Bamberg, Germany and enjoyed the hospitality of the community and a guided tour of the town.
The confreres taking part were: Fr. Josef Altenburger (Provincial in charge of the sector), Br. Gunther Naherich (DSP), Fr. Donato Goffredo (LP), Fr. Antonio Carlos Ferreira (Port), Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi (Rome), Fr. Giacomo Palagi (Ita) Fr. Tomasz Marek (Pol) and Fr. Alejandro Canales (Spain).
Apologies: Fr. Fernando Zolli (Ita).
We started the meeting by introducing ourselves to each other. Fr. Altenburger having replaced Fr. Anton Schneider was the one to call the meeting and gave a reflection on the beatitudes (Mt 5). Speaking of justice in the Bible he said that our communities should become a sign of God’s presence and a mirror of His justice. God hates injustice and takes sides with its victims and those who do not have a voice. God’s law is a guarantee of justice, as we saw in the Jubilee year. Christ is in the line of the prophets announcing God’s mercy. The same Fr. Altenburger was chosen as moderator and Fr. Donato as secretary. We managed to overcome the barrier of the language by helping each other with the translation from English, Italian and Spanish.
Agenda of the meeting:
1. Report from the provinces
2. Ratio Missionis and General Chapter 09
3. World Social Forum in Brazil
4. Relation between the Segretariat of Evangelization and JPIC
5. The Web page of Comboni.org
6. Relation between the European Provinces and the rest of the Provinces
7. JPIC in our Comboni magazines
8. Ethical purchase in Comboni community
9. Intercommunication among the provinces on JPIC
10. The peace missionary caravan Sept. ‘08
11. Course for animators JPIC
12. Relation with VIVAT and AEFJN
13. Involvement of laity
15. How to animate our communities
16. Role of commission in the Province
Report from the Provinces
JPIC is mentioned in the Six years plan as a priority of the Province. There are two dimensions: one from within is the animation of the communities; the other pointing out is the collaboration with other groups. We have links with the JPIC committee of the CIMI (Conference of missionary institutes present in Italy). Some JPIC activities are in the making: the ‘peace caravan’ planned for Sept. 2008; the laboratory at the universities of Bologna and Padua; the ethical moralization of the use of money in the Comboni communities; the participation in the WSF, VIVAT and AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith Justice Network); the site www.giovaniemissione.it of the GIM; the specialization studies of one Father in New York; the revision of the figure of Fr. Zanotelli’s person and action; the promotion of campaigns on our missionary magazines; the agreement on the immigrants; the ACSE now in the hands of Fr. Crimi; a perspective commission in conjunction with the lay people.
The Comboni Missionaries collaborate with other 47 institutes inside the NAD (network Africa Germany) started in 1998. They promote a better understanding of an ever changing society. The NAD is linked to the AEFJN base in Brussels, receiving newsletters about Africa, participating in campaigns and lobbying. There is an AGM. The main focus is spirituality channeled through justice and faith, religious life seen as a witness of justice, the bible as a path of justice and peace, solidarity. In today’s society, the gap between Countries of the Northern and Southern hemisphere is increasing. The coordinator is a link person with the AEFJN which has some 41 antennae in Europe and Africa. The activities done in the province are lobbying, campaigning, networking. There is a house in Graz giving hospitality to African immigrants.
In the LP much of the JPIC activities are done ecumenically together with the Church of England (Anglican) and of Scotland (Presbyterian). The main campaigns at the moment are those targeting fair trade, the nuclear threat and immigration. In the latter respect, the province has opened a new community in a Parish (Battersea in London) with a significant presence of immigrants. There two confreres are involvement in the pastoral care of refugees and asylum seekers in London. Another confrere keeps the links with AEFJN. In our magazine there are articles on JPIC. We collaborate with Cafod, Sciaf and Trocaire (the Catholic Charities respectively for England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland) We also continue networking with the J&P national commissions and CMU (Catholic missionary union) and COR (Conference of Religious).
The JPIC coordinator works within the editorial board of the magazine. He is linked with the AEFJN antenna in Lisbon. The main activities have been campaigning on the EPAS, on human trafficking, creating a platform for Darfur and covering the Summit Africa –Europe.
The means of information within the province is a bulletin circulated to sensitize the communities on the campaigns of the different and numerous organizations: NGOs, national JP office, Conference of Religious, AEFJN. Yet the interest of the base is minimal, some confreres are closed in on themselves. In the province there is a commission for JPIC composed of the editor of Mundo Negro, and the Frs. Joaquin, Alejandro and Corrado. JPIC is part of the plan for the six year plan of the province. In the period 2007-9 the communities have used themes of ongoing formation from the bulletin ‘Confer no. 33 and 35’. The activities carried out have been: campaigning for the cancellation of international debt for poor countries, for the right to food, against the arm trade. All the themes in Mundo Negro are linked to JPIC, anthropology and mission. The community in Moncada works for the pastoral assistance of the immigrants.
The delegation is made up of nine confreres, half still studying. After 16 years of post-communism the mentality is still what it was. It is now three years since Poland joined the EU; some soldiers have been sent on peace keeping missions. The old vision of mission work geared to the work of Caritas still survives in Poland. For every 1000 people there is a priest, of 40,000 priests only 2,000 of them are missionaries. It is still difficult to present themes of JPIC in the parishes, whereas in some schools there is more dialogue. Some topics of JPIC appear in our magazine.
The JPIC coordination in Rome has now been linked to the Comboni press and the webpage www.comboni.org by the DG without yet defining if it is still part of the secretariat for Evangelization. The work of JPIC was started by the late Fr. Anton Mayer, followed by Fr. Zolli and is now in the hands of Fr. Pezzi. The GD is interested in becoming a member of VIVAT. The AEFJN is left at the level of the European commissions.
Some considerations from the Ratio Missionis process
The RM process in its first phase has identified as signs of the times different fields of action: the work among immigrants; the commissions for reconciliation of people caught up in cultural clashes; the support to grassroots movements defending human rights and advocating alternatives to the present world economy; the realm of communication; people changing attitudes towards the use of money; solidarity in time of national catastrophe; the up-keep of values linked to JPIC; the increased role of the laity in the life of the Church; to giving up of power and opting for the poor; the awareness that peace can be reached in as much as Religions and Cultures work for reconciliation and dialogue.
Moreover the RM process has identified as signs of the places: a vision of a malaise in Africa due to unstable governments, economic disarray, alarming poverty, sicknesses, demographic growth, breaking apart of society, prostitution, child soldiers… however a new society is growing more aware of human rights. In the Americas there are some downgrading factors: individualism, consumerism, violence, drugs dealing, destruction of family values, economy before people’s dignity, the abuse of the weakest groups - indigenous, afro, women. However the option for the poor, the work of inculturation and the role of popular religiosity are signs of hope.
In Europe there are concerns because of unstable family life, individualism, misuse of goods, EU’s economic weight, frontiers closed to immigrants, superficial religious education. In Asia we see the lack of freedom (China) violence (Iraq), theocratic and military regimes, no human rights, contrast between rich countries and poor ones, exploitation of workers and of children.
In its second phase the RM process has put JPIC in a Combonian context of identity and charisma, mission and evangelization. There is clearly a passage from the concept of mission as proclamation and assistance (annuncio e assistenzialismo) to a new vision of mission as proclamation and human promotion (annuncio e promozione umana). Mission is everywhere because the causes of poverty can be found everywhere. The Comboni missionary has to put himself in the greater perspective; mission is no longer a local but a global action. Everything is illuminated by a new vision no longer divided into sectors. Mission in its centrality is the search for the causes of poverty rather then keeping up assistance. Mission is reconciliation, tolerance, dialogue. Mission in the new vision is proclamation, witness, gift (annuncio, testimonianza, donazione). Mission as such is not only clerical but also laical (not only a ministry of priests, but a ministry of lay people too). The radicalization of the consecrated life through JPIC brings about a new spirituality and an option for the poor. The next Chapter will take place at the same time of the second African synod.
The RM process is helping us to mature; we missionaries are on this journey, called to listen to the people of today. This world is the place of the mission today. In this world we are called to be missionaries, to spend our energies in a new style. In the new vision of religious consecration, the vows have a leaning towards JPIC, poverty as true poverty, obedience as listening to the people, chastity as the total gift. We see JPIC not as a new aspect of mission, but as a real mission that goes right to the core of the gospel. In the mystery of the Incarnation man is at the centre of mission because Christ is at the centre, and for our Redemption, as Comboni says, God died on a cross.
Our views on the WSF in Brazil
Our confreres of Brazil have sent us an invitation to the WSF due to take place in Belem and a questionnaire. We have prepared a letter to address some concerns on the WSF and decided to leave the questionnaire to the different Provinces. At first we sought to understand what had happened at the WSF last year in Nairobi. To do so we had to distinguish between two events: the WSF itself and the Comboni gathering which preceded and followed it. In this respect there is a report done very well by Nigrizia. Since Nairobi, we Comboni with other missionary institutes have become aware of the WSF. The WSF is a door opened to everyone, allowing for internal conflicts of different ideological factions. The WSF of Nairobi was marked by difficulty, tiredness and low participation and was mainly of local groups of the left wing. There was no good organization, no clear programme, and confusion of sites for the great number of events, some 1240 held in 4 days, divided in seven great themes. With only religious orders, the local church was absent; the encounter of theologians did not continue in the WSF. There was no serious reflection, problems in the coordinating group itself and difficulty in coordinating the work. The Kenyan people had to pay 5$ of enrolment at first but then the organization let all enter free, so even the street vendors came in to sell their goods! As for the Comboni gathering the first two days were without preparation and the guidance given by an English sister was not appreciated. Things improved in the second act under the guidance of Fr. Pierli and Barros a Brazilian theologian. There was the problem of who would impose himself, with Barros twisting and unbalancing the discussion leading to a difficulty of methodology, many words few conclusions. For the WSF of Belem we saw the danger of it becoming a Brazilian and local event (the presence of the same theologian). Moreover, we suggested that the Comboni gathering be linked to WSF and assume the dimension of a feast.
Inspired by John Paul II definition of the “New Aeropagus” VIVAT stands for “Vivat Deus unus et trinus”, “May the one and triune God live in the hearts of all” and “Let live, let people live, let justice and peace live”. It is an agency made up of 7 missionary institutes. It received the status of NGO by the U.N on 18th Nov. 2000 (started by the SVD). VIVAT is not the only NGO of religious, the Franciscans and the Dominicans have their own too, and overall there are some 2000 recognised NGOs at the UN. The SVD and SSpS have offered the possibility to other institutes of joining their NGO, as associated members, or as full members. The decision was taken by the DG at the level of DG to accept the invitation (we are not yet full members). This NGO can take part on its own right in the policies decided by the UN, have access to UN information sources and briefings; have the right to attend meetings and conferences, bring matters of concern before the UN agencies having an influence upon the choices made in important issues (water, human trafficking, fight against poverty …)
AEFJN (Africa and Europe Faith and Justice Network):
is a network of 44 Religious Institutes present both in Europe and in Africa. Its aim is to lobby the European Parliament about just policies towards African Countries.
Its secretariat is in Brussels; it has an Executive Committee made of 12 members, prepares the material, keeps contact with national antennae and carries on the campaigns decided by the institutes. The strength of AEFJN is the antennae, at the moment there are antennae of AEFJN present in Africa.
Parallel vision between VIVAT and AEFJN
VIVAT in comparison with AEFJN has a different level of lobbying:
VIVAT is based at the UN – AEFJN is based at the European Parliament
VIVAT is for the World – AEFJN is for Africa
VIVAT works inside the UN – AEFJN is outside the European Parliament
VIVAT participates by right in the decision making process – AEFJN by personal contacts
What is the role of the Comboni Missionaries in VIVAT and in AEFJN?
At the VIVAT meeting in Rome in March ‘07, VIVAT wanted to establish antennae everywhere and the representatives were charged with the task of organizing meetings at national level. Looking at the situation from our European Provinces there were some observations. In Germany it is seen to be a doubling of the AEFJN antennae and there are not enough people to get involved; hence the preference goes to AEFJN. In Spain any meeting will have a block because of the English language barrier of the documents from VIVAT. In Italy each of the Seven Institutes has indicated a contact person. They have to restart at national level. Material arrives regularly from the UN offices. A confrere, Fr. Stragapede is doing his specialization in JPIC in the USA and is completing a stage at the VIVAT offices in New York. In conclusion we want to continue to be present there in the places of power, to contact MPs and have arguments ready. There is need to prepare personnel.
Points for discussion
JPIC and the secretariat of Evangelization
JPIC should be kept inside the Secretariat of Evangelization; the actual temporary arrangement sees JPIC, Comboni Press and Comboni Web Page in the hands of Fr. Pezzi.
Coordination of JPIC
Fr. Pezzi from Rome should keep the contact among the JPIC commissions and coordinators of the Provinces of the Institute.
European Coordinator for JPIC
The suggested coordinator for Europe is Fr. Nando Zolli, who, contacted, has made himself available.
Course for animators of JPIC
We suggest that a two-week course for animators of JPIC in Europe should be arranged in the Spring of 2009 in the way it was held in Kinshasa for French speaking Africa. We propose that Fr. Zolli be the organizer of the course. It is likely that other institutes might be interested in taking part.
JPIC and the Comboni Web page
Fr. Pezzi should gather the material for publication and seek for translators.
JPIC and the Comboni magazines
Our entire magazines are and should be at the forefront of JPIC. How they interact together is for the editors to decide at their meetings. Nigrizia and Mundo Negro are autonomous in their editorial choices. The other magazines are more linked to missionary animation.
The Peace Caravan
There is information and an invitation to participate in the Missionary Peace Caravan, 10 days of a journey into the reality of oppression, black labour, and immigration. The caravan, first held in 2000 for the Jubilee was repeated as an activity of the GIM in 2002-4 ending at Cimitile (Na). Now it is open to other missionary institutes, the CMD and the MGM.
JPIC and the community life-style
The JPIC commission has to animate the communities ‘ad intra’. The challenge to them is to overcome the barrier of structures, counteract the tendency to privacy, and to promote a welcoming attitude. The PC has to make sure that a programme of spirituality of JPIC is taken up in the communities to recuperate the tradition of Comboni’s way and put it into practice in today’s world, opening the way to aspects undervalued such as new poverties, ethical banking, and the social pastoral evangelization of man.
JPIC and the lay missionary
JPIC should be given due relevance in the preparation of lay missionaries. JPIC is an area where we could keep in touch with returning lay missionaries returning from the missions, and support them in choosing some work or profession linked with the reality of the third world.
JPIC and the work among immigrants
There are examples of work among immigrants that exemplify our efforts for JPIC in Europe. The DSP through Africa house is giving assistance to the Nigerians. The Italian province has a proper commission for immigrants and a pastoral commitment at Castelvolturno; there are summer camps dealing with human trafficking and the ACSE in Rome to assist foreign students; Nigrizia is specialized in highlighting the problems connected with immigration. In the Spanish province, the Valencia community work with immigrants in connection with Caritas and the local bishop has asked them to organize a conference on the theme of immigration and family; in the Madrid house there are rooms given to Caritas to accommodate immigrants and a confrere delegated to keep contacts. The Comboni sisters have activities for the immigrants at Zaragoza, Almeria and Granada. In the London province a new community has been opened to work among the immigrants in London.
There should be a meeting of all those who work with immigrants. If there are courses for JPIC those in charge could organize a visit to the house of Florence now a centre for JPIC in the Italian Province.
E-mail address of the participants:
Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Antonio Carlos Ferreira: email@example.com
Fr. Alejandro Canales: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Tomasz Marek: email@example.com
Fr. Giacomo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Fernando Zolli: email@example.com
Br. Gunther Naherich: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Josef Altenburger: email@example.com
Fr. Donato Goffredo: firstname.lastname@example.org