Networks respond to global challenges

Networking: a chance to bring local initiatives together
Networking: a chance to bring local initiatives together

Representatives of international networks engaged in social justice in the Society of Jesus have concluded their meeting in Loyola, Spain, with a call for a comprehensive programme that addresses today’s global challenges: inclusion of the disadvantaged and sustainability of the natural world. More than 50 Jesuits and lay colleagues representing the major world geographic areas in which the Society of Jesus works discussed how they could improve their response to what they called the greatest global justice challenges in our time and produced some tangible outcomes for networking in the future.

The meeting in the birthplace of the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola, brought together members of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN), as well as delegates with a specific concern for migrants, education, ecology and mining; as a member of the Xavier Network, Jesuit Missions’ Director from London, Paul Chitnis also participated in the meeting.

While acknowledging that humanity has increased its wellbeing in recent decades, the gathering also noted that exclusion and environmental degradation are still characteristics of our world. “Too many human beings live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger,” a statement said after the meeting. “Children are deprived of education, men and women go without health services, and communities without drinking water.” The statement also lamented the way that current development model punishes nature and exploits the planet in an unsustainable way. “Inclusion and sustainability have arisen as the two great tasks of our time,” it concluded.Members of the Xavier Network in Loyola, Spain

Greater international collaboration

The Society of Jesus is in a strong position to respond to these challenges for several reasons, the meeting in Loyola stated. It said that international networks allow Ignatian organisations to combine response to conditions of mission with local realities, thereby providing them “with spiritual nourishment for our commitment to justice and the defense of human rights”.

“In the place where St Ignatius found his conversion to God, the meeting in Loyola strongly affirmed the mission of the Society of Jesus to serve the Christian faith through the promotion of justice," says Paul Chitnis. "It also confirmed that a global body like the Jesuits has real strengths and opportunities to respond to the inter-connected challenges which face humanity today. In this context, we discussed key issues like climate change, migration and the mining of natural resources. The meeting strongly urged the continuation of efforts to collaborate for justice across Jesuit 'works' as a vital and growing need over the next decade.”

The final declaration from the Jesuit Networking meeting in Loyola called for the Society of Jesus to devote the necessary human and economic resources to support and sustain these networks and requested support from the international Society for a proper selection of global apostolic challenges that would aid the advancement of these networks. It also called for stronger links between social centres and universities, so that they could collaborate more fruitfully in areas of research, awareness and advocacy and urged the Society to offer appropriate leadership training. The meeting also requested provincials and presidents of Jesuit Conferences to foster closer collaboration for specific apostolic challenges, by establishing plans, providing follow-up and evaluation in order to draw lessons and identify good practices.File final_declaration_eng.docx