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.

Over sixty people gathered at a three-day workshop entitled "Rediscovering the European Common Good" to analyse, discuss and influence the past, present and future of Europe. The weekend workshop was introduced by Marie de Saint-Cheron and Martin Maier SJ, representing the co-organisers the Passion for Europe group and the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC). In her opening speech and presentation, Victoria Martín de la Torre emphasised the importance of the dream, the vision and the sources that the “providential” European project has been based upon. Migration flows The first panel on migration flows opened a heated debate on the “chaos” of the current so-called “migrants crisis.” Stephen Ryan, from the European Commission, emphasised the need of a “controlled migration” since “uncontrolled migration creates insecurity in our citizenry.” José Ignacio Garcia SJ, from the Jesuit Refugee Service - Europe, focused on the ambivalent role of the NGOs that now even themselves a question that should have an obviously positive answer: “Why should we protect people?” - something that has been dealt with well and that “we need to calm down the situation” as “we are getting neurotic.” Michael Schöpf SJ, from the Center for Global Questions, declared “I cannot be a Christian without the recognition of the other person [of others] in full humanity.” For Schöpf, “it is not about charity but about virtue” when dealing with the crisis, emphasizing “practice.” Torsten Moritz, from the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe, called for consistent and necessary action. The late afternoon ensued with work in groups, the results of which will be presented on Sunday. In the evening, the participants enjoyed and discussed a video of Pope Francis's speech on Europe and an ensuing social hour. Integral ecology Chiara Martinelli, the executive adviser on sustainable development at CIDSE, opened and moderated the Saturday morning session on Integral ecology at the Rediscovering the European Common Good Workshop. After a warm and poetic introduction, Martinelli gave floor first to Andrea Tilche, the Acting Director of the Directorate Environment of the European Commission. Tilche emphasised from the outset that “We have to go to zero. We have to stop emissions very soon.” He called out that a "systemic change needs to happen because the time is running short.” Critical of the Christian contribution, Tilche remarked that “Maybe the Church has not taken up the mobilisation, the understanding, and the immense significance of Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si’." Philippe Lamberts, a Member of the European Parliament, drew strongly upon the Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ . Lamberts stressed that “the topic of Laudato Si’ is the on of the human dignity." But, then continued: "When the Pope spoke at the European Parliament he got a standing ovation. Did we perceive any changes afterwards? Absolutely not.” Martin Maier SJ, the secretary of European affairs at JESC, said as a third panelist that “The impact of this Encyclical astonishing. Laudato si’ is a very fruitful document. The Pope wanted to launch a dialogue. It is a joyful and dramatic document.” Maier bemoaned the fact that often “the reception of Laudato Si’ had a stronger reception outside the Church than in the inside of the Church. The reception of this document needs time. But the time is running out. Action means systemic change.” Pannels and sessions included the topics of migration, ecology and culture. The workshop included work in groups and a live piano concert. The weekend was organised by the Passion for Europe group and JESC.
The Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) participated in the first Laudato Si’ Reflection Day held in Brussels on 6 June with more than 70 representatives of the European Bishops’ Conferences, Catholic organisations and movements. Together they expressed their support for a sustainable financial system in Europe and the Church. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, insisted on the timeliness of the event in the immediate aftermath of a recent legislative proposal by the European Commission and last week’s report of the European Parliament on sustainable finance. Molly Scott Cato, MEP and rapporteur of this report, also participated in the Reflection Day and insisted on a dynamic approach regarding the sustainability of financial products. Martin Spolc, from the EU Commission, presented the action plan for sustainable finance and the preparatory work on the taxonomy for a clear and common language across Europe that could help to avoid the “green-washing” of financial products for marketing reasons. Other speakers such as Lorna Gold, from the Irish Catholic Development organisation Trocaire, called for coherence in an era of climate change and discussed ethical investment as a challenge for the Church. Right after the Midday Prayer and lunch, best practices coming from a Catholic diocese, a Catholic bishops’ conference, a religious order and a Catholic bank were presented. Participants formulated a number of recommendations, which will be presented to the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Conference in the Vatican next July 2018.
Social Apostolate Delegates and Social Centres Directors Annual Meeting Milano, 8-11 April 2018 The delegates and coordinators of the social apostolate sector in Europe and Near East met this year in Milan at a back-to back meetings with the directors of the Jesuit European Social Centres. The meeting of these two networks provided a fertile venue to discern Universal Apostolic Preferences within the social dimension of our mission as well to determine the primary orientation for works and social projects that include a European focus. The meeting took place at the Istituto Leone XIII, an important Jesuit school that is known for its various educational, social and pastoral activities. Franck Janin, the President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, and Xavier Jeyaraj, the Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology at the General Curia in Rome, joined the meetings of the delegates and of the directors.   The first group, that is social delegates, had the chance to pray, think, discern and deliberate over the apostolic preferences through the lenses of both universal and European approaches. The profiles of the “delegate” and “coordinator” for social apostolate were also discussed. The method used was discernment in common through spiritual conversation. The second group, the directors, represented, among others, Social Centres such as Cristianismo y Justicia (Spain), Centre Avec (Belgium), Aggiornamenti Sociali (Italy) used a similar meeting formula in order to draw up the plan for the next year that is based on a common vision for the centres network. The journey ended with a joint preliminary statement: “We desire a life together in Europe that, inspired by Ignatian vision, bears witness to the values of reconciliation and promotion of the common good, and proclaims a message of liberation with those we serve.” Members of both networks had the chance to visit the magnificent city of Milan for one afternoon, starting with the facilities and projects of Aggiornamenti Sociali and San Fedele, followed by a visit to the surroundings of Duomo di Milano and ending with a pleasant meal at a local restaurant. The results of the Milan deliberations have been delivered to the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome and will be presented to the Conference Provincials for further discernment and approval at their next annual meeting in Barcelona. While the results of the discernment process need to be examined further and confirmed by the networks and the Provincials, the orientation towards working with and for vulnerable people on the move and integral ecology emerged clearly as a possible common path in the future. Next year’s meeting for the delegates is expected to take place between 31st of March and 4th of April, and for the directors between 5th and 8th of May 2019. Memories of the Annual Meeting: check this video made by Alberto Ares.
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 ...”.