In January 2012, the Jesuit European Office (OCIPE in Brussels) became the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC). OCIPE had centres in Brussels, Budapest, Strasbourg and Warsaw. Whereas OCIPE in Strasbourg will remain, the offices in Budapest and Warsaw are now social centres of their respective provinces.

JESC is a separate apostolic and legal entity within the Conference of European Provincials. Through JESC, the Society of Jesus remains committed to a Europe where human rights, freedom and solidarity are the foundation of integration. Europe, especially the European Union, is currently undergoing the most acute political and economic crisis of its existence. While refusing alarmism, JESC continues, in line with the entire history of OCIPE, to seek a critical but constructive engagement with the EU.

Operationally, JESC will be organized in three areas of work:

- European Affairs: We retain an institutional presence in Brussels to the EU Institutions, and with ecclesial and civil society organizations that relate to them.

Social Coordination: We assume the task of social coordination previously carried out directly by the CEP, to encourage and promote the Jesuit European social sector.

Advocacy/Projects: Advocate on issues around corporate exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RPAN); on ecology, coordinating an international network which publishes the electronic newsletter Ecojesuit; and through the ‘Migration Desk’, a service to Jesuits involved in the care of migrants. JESC wishes to embody a Jesuit European engagement which authentically expresses Christian faith, remains close to the poor and marginalised, analyses the social reality with competence, and advocates for justice in European political structures.

Between 6 to 17 November, over 30 Jesuits and co-workers belonging to the Ecojesuit network participated in events during the UN COP23 climate change conference held in the German city of Bonn. Among them were two members of the JESC team, Peter Rožič SJ and Henry Longbottom SJ.  COP23 – What happened on the international stage Conference of Parties (“COP”) summits take place annually.  This year, nearly 200 countries met for two weeks of talks on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement which aims to limit global temperature increases and help countries to deal with the impact of climate change.  Owing to Fiji’s presidency of the summit, there was a special focus on the plight of small island developing states.  If carbon reductions targets are not met, it is estimated that by 2050, up to 1.7 million people in the Pacific Islands could be displaced due to climate change. It is widely believed that the COP23 discussions have led to the development of a ‘rulebook’ for how the Paris agreement will work when it comes into force in 2020.  There are still however many decisions to be made at the next round of talks, scheduled to take place in Poland in December 2018.  A particular unresolved stumbling block is the need for increased climate finance, namely a roadmap for achieving a $100bn fund by 2020. Catholic groups played a prominent role at the various COP23 “side events” – meetings and conferences for state delegates, NGO workers and members of the public.  One such event was the launch a new CIDSE paper, Climate Action for the Common Good on 15 November.  Sitting on a panel with Pedro Walpole SJ (Coordinator for Reconciliation with Creation of the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific) Fr. Bruno Marie Duffé, Secretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said: “We should not underestimate the importance of the moment we are in now.  We are in the middle of the river, and we cannot go back.  We have to be together, and we have to be strong, even if one state decides to go back.  We have had the Paris agreement and now we have to move from the ethical intentions to making the political happen, and to do that we will need a new model of development that is rooted in dialogue and mutual solidarity, and that recognises the talents that each party has to contribute.” Ecojesuit’s activities at COP23 Using the Jesuit Aloisiuskolleg Bonn-Godesberg as its base camp, the Ecojesuit team comprised Jesuits and friends from around the world, from Micronesia to Central Africa, from India to Latin America.  In addition to internal sharing and strategy sessions, Ecojesuit members participated in the various COP23 talks and activities.  Blogs written by different members of the Ecojesuit team about their experiences can be found on the COP23 . Ecojesuit also hosted its own day-long event for the public on 13 November.  The first half of the day was devoted to a dialogue conference entitled “Laudato Si’ – Environment is Relationship” exploring food security and natural resources issues.  The dialogue was moderated by Andreas Carlgren (Newman Institute, Uppsala) and Cecilia Calvo (Environmental Justice Adviser, Jesuit Conference of Canada and US).  Speakers included William Kostka of the Micronesian who conveyed concerns regarding climate mitigation from the perspective of the pacific islands, François Delvaux, Food Sustainability Advocacy Officer at CIDSE who focused on agroecology and Felix Löwenstein, a large-scale organic farmer. The ensuing discussions and questions centred on how Laudato Si’ be used as an educational tool to transform attitudes towards resources. In the afternoon, Ecojesuit held a “Laudato Si Fair” at which numerous Ecojesuit members showcased their activities, ranging from the Flights for Forests and Carbon Challenge initiative, to the Justice in Mining Network advocacy group, and the Loyola University Chicago Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Thanks to the generous involvement of the staff at Aloisiuskolleg, especially its headmaster Martin Löwenstein SJ, English teacher Dr. Dorothee Rölli, and physics teacher Christian Modemann SJ, many of the school’s 700 students participated in the Ecojesuit events.
The spread of fake news has made truth and lies an urgent topic of political and social debate. The Association for the German Language chose the new idiom “postfaktisch” (post-truth) as its Word of the Year for 2016. The publisher of the Oxford Dictionary also chose the English term “post-truth” as its International Word of the Year for 2016. This is symptomatic of the finding that objective facts in political and social discussions are becoming increasingly replaced by emotions and arbitrary claims. In this edition of Europe Infos, Mari Sol Pérez Guevara describes the significant role of social networks in the spread of fake news. But what is truth? In the classic philosophical sense, truth is the correspondence of a statement with reality. The opposite of truth is a lie – a deliberate falsehood. Lies were openly spread during the campaigns for both the UK “Brexit” referendum and the US presidential election. In the former, claims were plastered on the sides of London buses that the UK pays £350 million a week to the EU, yet just one day after the referendum, Brexit proponent Nigel Farage admitted that this claim was untrue. Again, while on the campaign trail, Donald Trump had insisted that Barack Obama was the founder of the terrorist organisation “Islamic State”. The truth has never been given an easy ride in politics. There are politicians who, while refusing to lie, see no obligation to tell the whole truth all the time. This is especially true regarding the honouring of existing agreements. One week before the election of the EU Parliament’s new president, Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party, disclosed an agreement – hitherto kept secret – in which the social democrats had pledged their support for a conservative successor halfway through the legislative term. Weber warned them not to break their word. But even the reaching of this agreement and the fact that it had been kept secret were enough to pose problems, and only served to confirm and bolster the public’s growing mistrust of politicians. It is said that in times of war, the first victim is truth. In his essay, “Perpetual Peace”, Immanuel Kant demanded that “some confidence in the way of thinking of the enemy must remain even in the midst of war”, since otherwise it is impossible to conclude any peace. This can be applied to politics in the sense that some confidence in the truthfulness even of a political opponent must be maintained, otherwise the most important, most valuable capital in politics would be lost: trust. But it is not only a matter of trust between politicians one to the other, but of the trust of citizens in the political process itself. The French bishops got to the heart of this most convincingly in their essay, Rediscovering the meaning of politics in a changing world”1, which attracted a lot of attention within the Church and beyond: “The crisis in politics is first and foremost a crisis of confidence in those who are responsible for looking after the common good and general interests.” This also touches the foundations of the European Union, which Jean Monnet described in 1950 as: “We are here to undertake a common task – not to negotiate for our own national advantage, but to seek it to the advantage of all.” A prerequisite for this is honesty and truthfulness. Or, put more simply, to follow the eight of the Ten Commandments: You shall not tell lies. Martin Maier SJ, JESC Translated from the original text in German
Meeting of the Jesuit Social Centres. The Jesuit Social Centres in Europe have started a new way of collaboration through one-day meetings, twice every year, to discuss on topics of common interest. This time, members of six social centres have met in Madrid, with the support of the Institute for Migration Studies of Comillas Pontifical University. The meeting, held on 22 November, devoted the morning to the analysis of "Hospitality and integration" while during the afternoon we focused on the fears of living together with migrants (racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance).  Participants came from the Jesuit Social Centres of Brussels (JESC / Avec), Paris (CERAS), Budapest (House of Dialogue), Munich (Institute for Social Development) and Barcelona (Cristianisme y Justicia). Some faculty members of the University joined the meeting as members of Pueblos Unidos, Entreculturas and the Delegate of the Social Apostolate of the Spanish Province, Fr. Alberto Ares.  The Professors Ms. Mercedes Fernandez (Director of the Institute for Migration Studies) and Mr. Juan Iglesias (Director of the Chair of Forced Displaced People and Refugees) had special presentations of research carried on by the Institute on the respective topics.  “In a world that is more and more globalized, we need to think together. If the European Union makes decisions for all Europeans, we have to think jointly as Europeans. " expressed Saskia Simon, specialist on Democracy and Citizenship Mobilization of the Belgium Jesuit Social centre “Avec”. Saskia Simon and her colleague Elisabeth Defreyne, an expert on Migration and Gender in the same centre, consider the meeting important because "it gives the opportunity to listen to people coming from different parts of Europe and to know the situation in each country, and how the Jesuit social centres deal with social justice in a broader context ...”.
European Social Apostolate.  On a Sunday in late August 2006, a group of men and women in their twenties and thirties gathered in Campo dei Gesuiti in Venice for the first ‘Faith and Politics’ workshop. Since then, it’s been taking place every second year. The 6th edition saw twenty-eight participants coming from Portugal, Ukraine, Ireland, Albania, Spain, Britain, Italy and France.  There’s a particularly intriguing fact about the unique venue of the workshop, which only becomes clear after a couple of days far off from the busy tourist spots. Being used as we are to living with the noise of traffic in the background, it takes some time to realize what a quiet place this is. This was definitely a good booster for our workshop. Most of the inputs were given by the organizing team, the European Jesuit Network. There are daily inputs on Jesuit spirituality and the worlds of faith and politics. As with previous editions, we invited guest speakers. This year, we had Eamonn O’Brien, a local councillor from Manchester, Pierre Martinot La Garde SJ working for the International Labour Organization in Geneva  and Carmen Cabrillo working with migrants in Madrid. They talked  about how they integrate faith in their work.  We then went on to consider the practical side of this spiritual calling to public life. This year we looked at the issue of migration, which we explored with the help of Justin MacDermott, advisor to Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Migration. There are also two daily highlights throughout the week. First there is the sharing within the reflection group, where participants give their own views and reactions on what they’ve just heard. Then there is the evening reflection held in the chapel – twenty minutes of looking back on the day. However, when the time is up, people are in no hurry to leave and move on to the next item. There’s just a general calm and silence. Every time we gather in Venice, it’s as if this profound silence permeated all the talk.
Workshop for staff members of the Jesuit Social Centres “One year after Laudato si” was the theme of the one-day workshop for staff members of the Jesuit Social Centres in Europe that took place in Brussels on June the 9th. There were participants from Centre Avec and JESC (Brussels), CERAS (Paris), Institute for Development Studies (Munich) and Cristianisme y Justicia (Barcelona), also via Skype joined the conversation, at some moments, representatives from Aggiornamenti Sociali (Milan) and the Centre for Faith and Justice (Dublin). The morning focused on “Ecology and spirituality”. The centres introduced the different initiatives undertaken during this year in this area as publications, seminars or courses. A wide diversity that was shared more in detail through the repository where all these materials are now accessible for the participants and their centres. The discussion followed with two presentations. The first by Emeline De Bouver, researcher at "Centre Avec" and author of the book “Moins de biens, plus de lines. La simplicité volontaire”. Emeline highlighted the tension that those engaged on environmental movements feel between an attitude of action, and transformation, and the necessity of contemplation and acceptance of reality. The second presentation by Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ; JESC, showed same “Strengths and weakness of the Ignatian Spirituality in the path of the ecological conversion”. The afternoon was devoted to the analysis of the present political momentum of the international negotiations on climate change. For this we counted with contributions by Adalbert Jahnz, member of the International Negotiations Team of DG CLIMA of the European Commission, and Meera Ghani, CIDSE Advocacy Officer Climate Justice. Both experts offered a comprehensive description of the perspectives after COP 21, the challenges ahead and the risks of a very complex process. This time it was after the input from the experts that we shared the activity developed by the centres on these topics. We had the opportunity to acknowledge the important amount of work done by the centres to disseminate the message of the encyclical, but also to promote individual and community engagement on sustainable life styles. During the workshop, Bertrand Heriard (CERAS) updated the participants on the project of a virtual platform, software, that aims that our writing materials can be used through different formats operating from a single data base. The project looks that this professional software can be shared by the social centres, increasing their performance and promoting collaboration.