ROME — As the countdown begins for the General Chapter next May, the General Minister has asked the Order’s services to evaluate their work over the last five years. The office for justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC) has already begun.
To prepare, we held continental gatherings last fall and early this year. They took place in Cairo, Egypt, for Africa, last September; in Frankfurt, Germany, for Europe, last October; in Santiago, Chile, for the Americas, last November; and in Cebu City, Philippines, for Asia/Oceania in February.
Friars from every conference were asked to report on the social, political and religious situations of their regions, and to evaluate the JPIC work over the last five years. They paid specific attention to implementation of the five JPIC proposals that were accepted at the General Chapter of 2003.
This material was then sent to the international council for JPIC. The council is composed of the JPIC presidents of each of the 13 conferences, the staff of the Rome office (myself and Vicente Felipe, OFM, from Spain), and four friars who serve on the JPIC animation committee. The council meets every two years and is monitoring and planning the JPIC program.
At the Philippines meeting, members of the council processed the huge amount of material that was presented from the conferences and the continental meetings. Many of the conference reports referenced problems related to the environment, including climate change, climate refugees, mining issues, increasingly scarce natural resources, drought, hunger, and more specific issues like the plight of the Amazon region and the Guarani Aquifer in South America.
Reports Reference an Ecological Crisis
Reports from the conferences confirmed that the world is facing an ecological crisis. They also confirmed that issues like poverty, violations against human rights, economic injustice, war and other regional conflicts, struggle with disease, and others continue to plague our brothers and sisters around the world.
With this in mind, the council decided to focus on environmental justice. Such emphasis will call us to seriously consider the current ecological crisis, while at the same time, will include concern for the social, economic and political problems that we face throughout the world. It will also challenge us to examine our lifestyle and its impact on the environment.
Encouraging Others to Be Concerned
Members of the international council feel that we must find effective ways to address these problems and encourage others to become involved.
Francis has been named the patron of ecology by the Church and is widely known as a lover of creation. People expect that we, as followers of Francis, will be inspired by this same love for the world, which God has so lovingly created.
Given the grave environmental problems that the world faces today, Franciscans are challenged to rediscover this aspect of our charism, and to reaffirm it as part of our vision of life and ministry.
— Joseph Rozansky, OFM, a member of Holy Name Province, is director of the JPIC office for the Order of Friars Minor, headquartered at the General Curia in Rome.