In January 2012, the Jesuit European Office (OCIPE in Brussels) became the Jesuit European Social Centres (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.

On Sunday 4 October Pope Francis published his long-awaited new Encyclical “Fratelli tutti”. The title is a literal quotation from Saint Francis of Assisi, who addressed his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel. It is a call to love others as brothers and sisters, even when they are far from us; it is a call to open fraternity, to recognizing and loving every person with a love without borders; it is a call to encounter others in a way that is capable of overcoming all distance and every temptation to engage in disputes, impositions, or submissions. It is an invitation in continuation of his groundbreaking Encyclical Laudato sí from 2015 to contribute to a new civilization of love, justice, solidarity and care for our common home. As the Pope was writing this Encyclical the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. It would mean denying reality if the only lesson to be learned of it was the need to improve what we are already doing. The pain, uncertainty and fear brought on by the pandemic made it all the more urgent to rethink “our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of life”. The pandemic has made evident that everything is connected: “no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.” The first chapter of the Encyclical describes the dark clouds over a closed world; these clouds extend to all parts of the world, hindering the development of universal fraternity; they are the circumstances that leave many people wounded by the roadside, discarded and rejected. The clouds plunge humanity into confusion, isolation, and desolation. In the second chapter the Pope offers a catechesis of the parable of the Good Samaritan as a ray of light in the darkness. When we come upon an injured stranger on the road, we can assume one of two attitudes: we can pass by or we can stop to help. The type of person we are and the type of political, social or religious group we belong to will be defined by whether we include or exclude the injured stranger. God is universal love, and as long as we are part of that love and share in it, we are called to universal fraternity, which is openness to all. There are no “others”, no “them,” there is only “us”. We want, with God and in God, an open world (Chapter 3), a world without walls, without borders, without people rejected, without strangers. To achieve this world, we must have an open heart (Chapter 4). We need to experience social friendship, seek what is morally good, and practice a social ethic because we know we are part of a universal fraternity. We are called to solidarity, encounter, and gratuitousness. To create an open world with an open heart, it is necessary to engage in politics, and a better kind of politics (Chapter 5) is essential. Politics for the common and universal good. Politics that is “popular” because it is for and with the people. It is politics with social charity that seeks human dignity. The politics of men and women who practice political love by integrating the economy with the social and cultural fabric into a consistent and life-giving human project. Knowing how to dialogue is the way to open the world and build social friendship (Chapter 6) which manifests an open heart and provides the basis for a better politics. Dialogue seeks and respects the truth. Dialogue gives rise to the culture of encounter, which becomes a way of life, a passionate desire. Whoever dialogues is generous, recognizing and respecting the other. But it is not enough just to engage in encounter. We have to face the reality of the injuries of past mis-encounters, and so we have to establish and walk the paths of re-encounter (Chapter 7). We need to heal the wounds, which requires seeking and offering forgiveness. To forgive is not to forget. We need to be daring and start from the truth—the recognition of historical truth—which is the inseparable companion of justice and mercy. All this is indispensable for advancing towards peace. Conflict is inevitable on the road to peace, but violence is inadmissible. That is why war is a recourse that must be rejected, and nuclear weapons and the death penalty must be eliminated. The different religions of the world recognize human beings as God’s creatures. As creatures, we are in a relationship of fraternity. The religions are called to the service of fraternity in the world (Chapter 8). In dialogue and with hearts open to the world, we can establish social friendship and fraternity. In our openness to the Father of all, we recognize our universal condition as brothers and sisters. For Christians, the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is what inspires our actions and commitments. This Encyclical addressed to all men and women of good will confirms Pope Francis´ spiritual and moral leadership.  Faithful to the the Second Vatican Council he presents a Church serving the unity of humanity and promoting justice and peace. Faced with those injured by the shadows of a closed world and still lying by the roadside, Pope Francis invites to make our own the world’s desire for fraternity, starting with the recognition that we are “Fratelli tutti”, brothers and sisters all.
A new Cohort of ELP Fellows. We officially open the 4th Edition of the European Leadership Programme. The long-awaited opening session of the Fall Cohort of 2020 was held at Josefa Foundation on October 4th. The event, hosted by Gilber Granjon and Annabelle Roig, Fouders of Josefa Foundation, was followed by a cycle of presentations from speakers such as Peter Rožič SJ, director of JESC, Botond Feledy, ELP Manager and Secretary for Leadership at JESC and Mahmoud Qeshred, International volunteer HQ Coordinator at Serve the City. "Dear ELP Fellows: Today you join a distinct and growing Programme. Let the ELP principles guide your future growth". Peter Rožič SJ welcomed the 14 ELP Fellows and encouraged them to learn how the Jesuit Education can be transformative. Showing kindness, serve people in need and become part of the change we want to see in the world. Mahmoud Qeshreh, International volunteer and Serve the City Coordinator shared the importance of serving others. Our ELP Fellows will have the opportunity to partner with Serve the City to serve homeless shelters, refugee centers, orphanages, and other associations. The session featured a round of presentation of the Fellows, facilitated by Eleonora Vitale,  External Relation and Development Officer at JESC. The session ended with an Ignatian moment with Peter Rožič SJ.
JESC and the Crisis. JESC team online during the current crisis Together with other European Jesuit works, the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) is providing a crisis response that is coherent with its mission. Established by the Jesuit Provincials of Europe and the Near East, the mission of JESC is to promote faith and justice by reinvigorating the European common good. We are called to promote the spirit of solidarity and “vision and values for Europe” (the purpose of JESC). This has become particularly obvious in the current times. The CoViD-19 pandemic has revealed all too many weaknesses of the European project. For example, at the beginning of the crisis, Italy and Spain suffered a painful lack of solidarity from the part of other European countries and the EU itself. Some even presume that the European Union may be falling apart due to this and other crises. In order to respond to Europe’s “epochal challenge” (Pope Francis, April 12, on the crisis), JESC ongoing activities seem to be more relevant than ever: giving a voice to the excluded in the European political process and accompanying groups committed to rethink Europe; bringing closer the Jesuit social apostolate (action through service, advocacy, formation and research); accompanying the European ecological transition towards increased sustainability, relying on different ecological apostolates in Europe; reinforcing Jesuit and Christian networks through youth leadership formation. European Leadership Programme with Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee and a Jesuit alumnus. The Pope’s warning Pope Francis’ understanding of the current crisis may come as a shock. Five years ago, the Pope declared (Mother) Earth as “Our Sister” and “our Common Home.” In his encyclical Laudato Si’, he called attention to this Common Home as crying out to us, “burdened and laid waste”. Coinciding with “the tragic coronavirus pandemic”, the Pope dedicated his General Audience of April 22nd to the Earth Day celebration, going further in his warnings. He announced that “if we have despoiled the earth, its response will be very ugly”. The Pope’s argument is that the earth does not forgive and he continues: “There will be no future for us if we destroy the environment that sustains us". As the Pope may rightly fear a “very ugly” response, we are called to bring about a necessary balance in order to avoid a dooms-day scenario. The Pope speaks of “a harmonious relationship with the earth”, calling us to renew “our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family.” So, how does JESC collaborate in this call? We propose a response of vulnerability and solidarity. Vulnerability: We are mortal yet hopeful This epochal crisis reminds us that our planet is vulnerable and that we are mortal. Exposed to a practically invisible virus we find ourselves almost powerless. In overcrowded camps, refugees are dying due to malnutrition, violence and now the virus; in nursing homes the elderly and others left behind are being swiped away by the same virus; the essential-services providers are risking and losing their lives. Moreover, the globally poor handling of the crisis has caused a decay of our social institutions (as, for example, the threats to European integration or to EU’s rule of law, etc.); and there are those who abuse the crisis for their political or financial benefit. We are vulnerable mortals. Yet, our mortality and our powerlessness do not have the last say. Only by facing our death with humility and faith will we be saved. Accepting our vulnerability may be one of the most freeing and spiritual remedies we can offer. It is the recognition of our own vulnerability that will bring us closer in this crisis. Mutual trust, which we need to deal with the conflicts and crises we face, can only emerge among people and societies that are vulnerable enough to open up and come closer to one another. By knowing our limits and trusting more in God’s saving work around and in us, we will be able to walk humbly with the excluded and collaborate effectively in the caring for our Common Home. So, let us build on our vulnerability as a resource as we journey through this crisis. In JESC, we journey with others through this global crisis. The “Closer through Crisis” campaign is one of our responses. First, we have decided to share the simple joys of our daily routines to navigate together through the quarantine time and to rediscover the power of vulnerability. So, we produce and share articles, videos, links, and projects to its audience to encourage and challenge people to stay reflective and hopeful during this period. Next, we highlight different initiatives, opinions and research from a range of authors to represent a variety of institutions and political perspectives. That allows us to enlarge and enrich debate and discussion. Moreover, the campaign has allowed us to call for and build on solidarity. Solidarity: Jesuits help millions of people globally Pope Francis recently stated that “As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst” (General Audience, April 22). Our #CloserThroughCrisis campaign helps us to share the responses of many Jesuit social projects to this crisis. We found that we are very innovative and concrete on showing solidarity. Let as show a few examples how this is true in Europe and around the globe. Zoom preparatory meeting of the SJES 2019 Jubilee Congress in Rome: participants from Europe’s social centres and various justice works. In Europe, our Jesuit organizations and partners put themselves at the service of the weakest in different ways. Currently a member of the ALBOAN team and the Delegate for discernment and apostolic planning, Patxi Álvarez SJ recently stated: “Serving the most vulnerable people is a responsibility, but also a privilege”. He adds that in this moment we should think of the possibility to serve others as a “gift” and a task to accomplish. Moreover, various solidarity and advocacy actions have been carried out by our social centres: we can begin in Barcelona where Cristianisme i Justícia dedicates a whole section of its website to reflections on Coronavirus in a faith-justice perspective and how this situation affects the most vulnerable; in Dublin, The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice continues its battle against overcrowded prisons and climate change, both accentuated by the COVID-19 crisis. We could also mention our centres of reflection and social action in Paris, Milano, Munich, Lisbon, Budapest, Warsaw, Brussels, Palermo and beyond. Do visit their websites and publications. Globally, JESC has participated in conducting a comprehensive survey that assesses the Jesuit response to the pandemic (coordinated by the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome). The first unofficial and rough results show that we are already helping millions of people worldwide. (The numbers and the maps will be published soon.) It is a response faithful to the Jesuit magis: we are embracing, promoting and carrying out forms of solidarity that are becoming increasingly global. Our task now is to coordinate further this Jesuit response. Over 200 participants of the SJES Jubilee Congress.  "Only together, and looking after the most fragile (members of society) can we win global challenges," the Pope said on the 22nd of April. How so? First, let us keep in mind that a “very ugly” response of Our Sister earth is indeed a likely global scenario. In addition, if we handle badly this crisis that combines health, ecological and economic components, the poor will be hit even harder. Second, our advocacy work in Brussels and around Europe confirms that we need and want to stay together as a family of nations, close to the poorest and the most excluded of our society. In this sense, the #CloserThroughCrisis campaign has the same objective: Serving the poor and promoting justice. Peter Rožič SJ Director of JESC and JCEP Social Delegate
The Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) announces: we are excited to start our campaign hashtag#CloserthroughCrisis. We will reach out with a daily post to share the sense of hashtag#community and hashtag#hope in this difficult time. JESC is part of the social responsibility movement in this hashtag#COVID-19 global crisis. We ourselves are one week into hashtag#confinement. Our team is adapting by hashtag#home office and face the same challenges and opportunities as many others. We want to contribute by spreading hashtag#Joy and will make our post part of your daily routine. Ps. You can find Sunday Mass streaming service in different languages on our website https://bit.ly/39cR5mg hashtag#Closer hashtag#CommonHome hashtag#Together hashtag#Quarantine hashtag#Jesuits hashtag#Virtual hashtag#Journeying
Don't give up hope. In the present situation of confusion and dismay, a first thought should go to the victims of the corona pandemic. There is so much suffering and despair all over the world. There are so many families affected who even cannot say goodbye to their beloved ones. As always the poor are the most severely hit. How shall people in a country like El Salvador survive under confinement, if they earn their poor living on a daily base selling fruits in the streets? But there are also many signs of solidarity and hope: medical doctors and nurses who risk their lives caring for the sick; hospitals who are receiving patients from other countries; a 75 years old Italian priest who is offering his life for a younger man. It is too early to reflect on the consequences of this pandemic. But we can reflect on the awareness it creates. The corona crisis makes us aware that health is the most precious universal common good and that it is globally vulnerable. It makes us also aware that we are all in the same boat and one human family. The crisis makes us aware that we have to rethink and to reshape our present model of globalisation taking into account the poor, the natural environment and the future generations. Pope Francis with his Encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care for our common home offers a compass and a roadmap for this. The main message of Laudato sí is that our world is a wonderful gift but that we are putting under threat its future by our way of living. That is why we need a fundamental change in our model of consumption and production. Pope Francis asks for an “ecological conversion”. A radical change needs radical motivations and a new mindset. A central insight of Laudato Si’ is that everything is deeply connected: the safeguarding of the environment cannot be divorced from ensuring justice for the poor and finding answers to the structural problems of the global economy. The corona crisis is another demonstration of the interconnectedness of our world. In a couple of weeks, the virus has spread all over the world by people traveling. The virus doesn´t know or respect any frontiers. To stop the pandemic the countries must look and cooperate beyond their borders. We feel more and more interdependent from each other, we are all vulnerable, we are connected globally for the best and the worst. We should give up our collective short-termism and understand solidarity as an intragenerational and intergenerational challenge. This is similar to climate change which is another central theme of Laudato sí. The Pope pleads to correct the existing models of growth incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations. Already five years ago he insisted on the gravity of the problems and asked to set in place a new civilization based on fraternity and equality. The current crisis shows that governments are able to take urgent, radical and very costly measures to face imminent danger. Why don´t we take comparable measures to face dangerous climate change? Climate change is not contagious but it is threatening the future of our planet and the decent living conditions of the future generations. Another innovation of Laudato Si’ is to consider the atmosphere, the oceans and the tropical forests as natural global common goods. In the present crisis, we can add health as the principal social common good. The global common goods cannot be solely under the rule only of national states but they belong to all humanity. So the principle of the universal destination of goods must be applied. We have a common but differentiated responsibility for these common goods and to discharge that responsibility we need democratic governance of them. The European Union is a historical example of this. In a pessimistic view, some people fear that the coronavirus can accelerate the disintegration of the European Union. At the beginning of the crisis, there were reflexes of “every country for itself” which went straight against the idea of the Union. In Italy, people asked painfully: “Where is the European Union?” In the meanwhile, the EU has come up with some concrete measures of solidarity: French or Italian patients in serious conditions who were received in German hospitals, exchange of medical materials between member countries. It should extend urgently also to the refugees who are living in inhuman conditions in the camps of the Greek islands and are seriously threatened by the virus. But in the long run, the major challenge will be how to handle in a spirit of solidarity the deep threats on the economy. We are all in the same boat and we will survive or sink together. In a number of recent articles in the newspapers very fundamental questions came up about the meaning of life and what we are doing, about what is the vocation of human beings in this world. Non-believing humanists pointed to the crisis as a kind of “secular Lent” which brings us back to essential values like life, love, and solidarity and forces us to relativize many things which till up to now we considered indispensable and untouchable. We shouldn´t instrumentalize this crisis in the sense of justifying Christian values. But principles of Christian social thinking such as human dignity, solidarity, the preferential option for the poor and sustainability can be guiding principles to build up a new model of economy and society after the pandemic. Pope Francis prays before the crucifix in St Marcelo church on the Via del Corso, Rome (©Vatican Media) In times of disaster inevitably comes up the question: Where is God in all this? God is in the victims of the pandemic, in the medical doctors and the nurses who care for the affected, in the scientists who relentlessly search for an antivirus vaccine, in the volunteers who are committed for the needy, in the workers who keep running our daily life, he is in all who are praying in these days for the others, in those who keep alive hope. Martin Maier SJ JESC Secretary for European Affairs
On 10 December, the policy and advocacy workshop "Tax Justice and Poverty" was held. This event was co-organised by JESC, COMECE - The Catholic Church in the EU and the Jesuits in Europe and Africa with the participation of representatives of the EU institutions as well as tax experts from development organisations from all over the world. The discussion was based on the 2012-17 research report by the Jesuit Mission, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka and the Jesuit Hakimani Centre in Nairobi. An important topic discussed was that Africa loses more in illicit financial outflows than the amount received from ODA and FDI. The value of the Church's contributions in the struggle to obtain more fiscal justice in order to fight poverty does not lie so much in the presentation of brilliant social and legal analyses. The church's role has been to remind people of the ultimate goal of all economic, social and political means: -to increase the well-being and dignity of all human beings, -to assist  everyone in developng their abilities and allow their active participation in the human effort to build our Common Home for us and the generations to come. Statement of Franck Janin Opening Statement Charlie Chilufya SJ