Jesuits in Europe

WORLD
18-21 December. The Commission on Solidarity met in Brussels, Belgium. Father General established the Commission in 2017 to study ways of implementing solidarity in formation as mandated by GC 36. The Commission comprises the six Conference Presidents, the ACE Provincial, Fr. José Minaku SJ, and the ELC Regional Superior, Fr. Johan Verschueren SJ. They were joined by JCAM Treasurer Fr. Paul Hamill SJ and former Assistant General Treasurer Fr. Francisco Gismondi SJ. The Commission worked on a system of universal solidarity which will be proposed to Father General for consideration. Meeting Room JCEP Curia Visiting the Bollandist library While in Brussels, the Commission members took time off to visit some institutions of the European Union and European works of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials. On the final day of the meeting the Conference Presidents met to consider issues of common concern. At JRS Europe Dinner at Saint Benedict Community At the hall of the presidents in the EU Parliament Meeting with Mr Diego Canga, Head of Cabinet EU President 
LITHUANIA
Exhibit in Vilnius. The Church Heritage Museum of the Archdiocese of Vilnius opened an exhibit „One Hundred Years of Missions and Missionaries“ on December 13, to last until May, 2019 as the principal exposition of the museum with a fine catalog, activities for young people and special monthly programs. Arranged by color according to the „Peace and Justice Rosary“ are artifacts from five continents to inform about Lithuanian missionaries and the missionary spirit and service of every Christian. It is sponsored by the Jesuits of Lithuania in cooperation with a unit of Senior Girl Guides. A small mobile exhibit is moving every two weeks from town to town until the summer, also in conjunction with the anniversary of Jesuits coming to Lithuania. On January 6 the official commemorations of 450 years of Jesuits in Lithuania begin with Mass at our four churches. An alumni conference is planned for February, another on leadership in April, Fr. General‘s visit in May, several Magis events, an exhibit in the Vilnius University library, a Jesuit school theatre festival and a final concert „Called to sing for the love of God“ a year from now.
EUROPE & NEAR EAST
Education Delegates from Jesuit Provinces across Europe (JECSE) gathered for their annual meeting in the Old Abbey of Drongen, Belgium (Nov 28th – Dec 1st). Franck Janin sj, as president of the JCEP, opened the meeting and expressed his sincere gratitude to the Steering Committee for all their work, especially during the interim period when the search for MT Michel’s successor was taking place. He also welcomed Ilse Dekker and thanked her for her generosity and willingness to serve as the new director of JECSE. Networking; a new way of proceeding The theme for our meeting was the importance of networking as a new way of proceeding. Ilse introduced the theme encouraging us as a Jesuit network to remain faithful to our holistic, humanistic narrative, while the prevailing paradigm in our world today sees education as ‘training for employability’ and is instilling the values of individualism and competitiveness. Our Jesuit vision, which educates for compassion and solidarity, calls on us to work together as companions. Daniel Villanueva sj, general director of Entreculturas and coordinator of the Jesuit Network Initiative, talked with us about the dynamic of networking, not as an aim in itself, but as a means to create a culture of collaboration and to strengthen our common initiatives. He explained how networking was formally adopted by recent General Congregations as the new way of proceeding for the Society. It was recognized that some problems just cannot be solved alone but require an interconnected approach. And as educators we should always remember that our school communities provide a wonderful opportunity to give students and parents a sense of belonging and a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness. We explored how we might, as a group of delegates from the different Provinces (through JECSE) and of the Education Sector linking with the other Jesuit sectors, expand the possibilities of our networking. To help us move into this dynamic Dani examined the style of leadership this requires, within our communities at all levels; coordinating creative human effort, building on relationships rather than authority, on trust and community interest rather than efficiency. Finally, we surfaced the strengths and needs in our different Provinces, and we were able to determine a number of areas that we might fruitfully collaborate on. Three specific task groups were formed on the topics of Formation, Global Citizenship, and Safeguarding. Safeguarding: a first priority The Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in our schools is now one of our main priorities. At the meeting we dedicated special and focused attention to this theme. Antonio Allende sj, Spanish Education Delegate, gave an overview of the statements from the Society and the Church; he talked about the sins of the past, the history of abuse and the cover-up by Church authorities.  He spoke about how the abuse of power is often the root cause and only by addressing the deeper culture can we prevent the possibility of this recurring. Brian Flannery, Irish Education Delegate, gave a heartfelt account of the Irish experience with all its painful consequences for the victims and their families. He also spoke about the need to see Safeguarding in the larger context of children’s wellbeing and how traditional notions of abuse should be expanded to include concepts of emotional abuse and neglect. These are realities for every school and need to be addressed in a deliberate, regular and consistent manner.    Filipe Martin sj, who guided the process of writing the manual on child-protection for the Portuguese Province, spoke about the importance of their collaborative methodology and mentioned their positive approach: to reinforce good practices and prevent abuse, but not to avoid closeness and affection or by creating a suspicious climate. The Portuguese model was seen as an excellent example of best practice. To conclude Of course within JECSE we will continue to share best practices on ‘interiority in the school context’. In this regard there was a beautiful presentation by Franciso Cuartero sj, pastoral coordinator of the Spanish team, on their ‘Lineas de Fuerza program’, animating essential Ignatian themes over a cycle of 6 years. Jose Mesa sj, secretary for Jesuit Education, reminded us of the developments over the last 10 years and the work being done since the last worldwide conference in Rio (2017). He also highlighted the wonderful support being given by Fr General and of the need for the regions to rally in support of the worldwide on-line-community, Educate Magis. In conclusion, it is fair to say that the gathering was a great success. As delegates we left the meeting feeling that there is now a focused and committed leadership in place, a clear of priorities for the future and a number of task groups working on how to progress these and the general mission of the Society.
EUROPE & NEAR EAST
The routes of exodus and exile often cross the seas. Aboard flimsy boats it is our brothers and sisters who, like so many Holy Families, seek a welcoming land. Each one of them embodies Christ's desire to enter into the shores of our humanity. Christ, who proposes to be the light and peace that guides us in the darkness of our fears and inward-looking attitudes. Let’s welcome Him as we celebrate Christmas. Throughout 2019: Let us set sail with Him! Franck Janin SJ President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials    

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Finding God

SPAIN
An Ignatian immersion to strengthen vocation and mission. Last December a new edition of the Ignatian immersion experience, in its Spanish edition, has finished. It is an initiative of the spirituality centre of the Cave of Manresa. Once again, the participants have valued their experience in a very positive way: "we brought expectations and these have not only been fulfilled but have overflowed. It has been a time of spiritual joy, of encounter with the source of our first Love and of strengthening our vocation and our mission". It is precisely one of the objectives: for six weeks, to deepen the legacy of Ignatius of Loyola, helping to confront Ignatius' experience with our own, and seeing how it continues to be a source for living "with Spirit" in times as changing as ours.  The course has experts in Ignatian spirituality such as the Jesuits Xavier Melloni, Josep María Rambla and Darío Mollà. This proposal is characterised by its methodology, since in addition to the sessions given by experts and the dialogue based on the experiences of each participant, is also a central part of the immersion in the Ignatian place in which it is taught. "We have lived the immersion in Ignatian spirituality as an experience that begins with the gentleness of the Cardoner, knowing God's way of proceeding with Ignatius from the first encounter in the room of his house". The group in this edition was made up of people from different countries, lay people, religious men and women from different congregations and different places. They consider that it has been "a great opportunity to be able to make a stop along the way and to be able to meet the deepest and truest part of ourselves, and to be able to find God himself there". The experience of the group is gathered in this article on the website of the Cave of Saint Ignatius.
HUNGARY
Friends of Manréza in Dobogókő, Hungary filled the main conference room on the 18th November to celebrate the Spirituality Centre’s 25 years of existence. The group was rather varied since two different groups of friends of the Centre met for the first time. From 1993 to 2008, Manréza was primarily known as a Jesuit run hotel and conference centre where thousands came each year for meetings, religious or professional, and for personal time out, either simple holiday or a time of prayer and reflection. After 2008 Manréza became a smaller and more focused Ignatian spiritual centre with a training program for spiritual directors and a rapidly evolving number of Ignatian Exercises and Jesus prayer retreats. In 2019, Manréza is to undergo a major reconstruction and in 2020 it should reopen all its premises including the conference centre. We look forward to welcoming Jesuit meetings once again on this beautiful hilltop near Budapest.
SPAIN
What psychological changes did Ignatius go through when he was injured in Pamplona and during the time he was prostrated in bed? Were these psychological changes in anyway similar to that of other individuals who have had spiritual experiences? What can Ignatian spirituality tell us about psychology and what can psychology tell us about Ignatian spirituality today? All these questions have been discussed in the whole Society of Jesus since more than four decades ago. Now, a group of experts continues to deepen this study by analysing a concrete aspect of psychology and Ignatian spirituality, concretely “perceiving and knowing the different movements” (Sp.Ex.313). They will do it in the form of a symposium that will take place from June 20 to 24th of 2019 in the Sanctuary of Loyola in Spain. This Symposium is an invitation to reflect on the different psychological processes involved in the Ignatian way of understanding and proposing the spiritual experience. This selected topic for the conference seeks to understand, from a contemporary perspective, the Ignatian link between the diversity and the superficiality of emotions and thoughts that we experience and the depth of the movements of the Spirit that reveal to us how to decide in our concrete Christian life. This is an invitation for the worldwide Society of Jesus and the universal Church. For those who cannot attend in person, the coordinators of the event have made it possible for people to follow it via online. There will be live coverage, so you better stay informed through social media with the hash tag #LoyolaPsi2019 if you do not want to miss out on anything. You can learn more about it here: www.loyolapsi2019.com This Symposium is a collaboration amongst the Pontifical University of Comillas, UNIJES, the Grupo Comunicación Loyola and the Loyola Sanctuary in Spain.
SPAIN
Meeting European Spirituality Centres in Manresa. It is no secret that the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola are at the heart of the Ignatian charisma and ethos. Likewise, they are one of the main sources of inspiration for most (if not all) of our works. They have this preferred status and they have this significance in value because the offer individuals a path of conversion in order to live a fuller life. The institutions that are responsible for promoting these Exercises as well as other pathways for conversion are what we nowadays call the Spirituality Centres. In the Jesuit provinces and regions we find many different works that aim to help individuals grow in all their dimensions, amongst many types of works we find: social centres, universities and faculties, schools, cultural reviews, refugee services, etc. Most of these works have established networks that meet every so often to discuss how they can work together and strengthen their bonds to fulfil their mission better. It would be a surprise to most individuals to know that the spirituality centres not only do not have a network of their own but they had never met before... until now. From all over Europe From the 13th to the 16th of November 2018, the first ever meeting of spirituality centres at European and Near East level took place at the Cave of Saint Ignatius in Manresa (Spain). There were 27 participants from all around Europe and the Near East. All of these people represented institutions that are important for their local contexts and most of them offer different pathways to help individuals come closer to God and to reflect in the mystery of life. During this gathering there were several presentations and sessions. These sessions expected to address several needs and goals that were of relevance to participants and to the wider Society of Jesus, these were: Getting to know each other and to build a sense of community and shared mission Identifying the needs and challenges that directors and delegates of spirituality centres can come across Learning about the spiritual needs of the human being in the XXI century and how they can be addressed Formalising ideas in concrete actionable steps by developing a strategy to foster change in each centre Reach concrete proposals for the Ignatian Jubilee of Ignatius leaving Loyola and reaching Manresa (the places that were key for his conversion). It is complicated to analyse all the interesting ideas and reflections that came up during this meeting, especially in a single news article. However, we should not despair, since this is not the end of it. We will surely hear much more from this group of spirituality centres since they have decided to establish themselves as a network with a formal Steering Committee formed by Fr. Piaras Jackson SJ from Ireland, Fr. János Lukács SJ from Hungary, and Fr. Lluís Magriñá SJ from Spain. At the end of the event it was decided that a second meeting should take place to continue fostering the many ideas that were presented and the feeling of shared mission that was developed during this first gathering. This next meeting will be in Malta and will take place in May of 2020. There, these different pathways to find God in all things explored by the spirituality centres will converge once again.

Promoting Justice

GERMANY
Nuremberg - In response to the initiative by the German and French finance ministers (beginning December) to convert the financial transaction tax into a share tax, the campaign "Tax Against Poverty - Financial Transaction Tax" responds by stopping its campaign activities. Father Jörg Alt SJ, who initiated the campaign in 2010, comments on this initiative: "The campaign was launched by the Jesuit mission with three aims: the financial industry, one of the causes of the financial crisis, to demand a modest contribution to coping with the costs of the crisis; to use the proceeds of the crisis to alleviate poverty and the consequences of climate change; and to use the tax to make the trade in questionable financial products unprofitable and thereby to push it back. The Franco-German project thwarts our intentions: It burdens the real economy and protects the financial industry. And instead of fighting poverty and climate change, it is now to be financed in a Euro zone budget. While Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had still advocated the tax for reasons of justice and strengthening democracy, the current Franco-German proposal is a slap in the face for all those who have been committed to tax justice for years. We cannot legitimise this approach, which is why we also support the cessation of campaign activities. But: "The next financial and banking crisis will certainly come - then we will speak again".
UNITED KINGDOM
Farm Street Church this week witnessed a joyful start to the Advent season as it hosted the Jesuit Refugee Service's Advent service. The readings, which included both traditional scripture and poetry, read by JRS staff, volunteers and refugees, gave the packed church plenty to reflect upon. The service was led by Fr Damian Howard SJ, who asked in his welcome that we "think of those who are far from home, missing their loved ones, and make ourselves present to them as God makes himself present to us."  His homily identified the wisdom of refugees, who uniquely have the experience to understand what is needed to bring reconciliation in the "complexity and grime of the human world".  He concluded "may you welcome the God of refugee wisdom into your home this Christmas, may you sense His presence anew, inviting you into saving companionship."  Read the full homily. Highlights of the service  were performances by the JRS Gospel Choir, supported by Magdalena Supel of the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, and the JRS UK Refugee drama group, supported by Rise Theatre. Rise Theatre explained, "we have been working with the drama group for nine weeks. Early on someone talked about being like migrant geese, which got us thinking of the story of the Christmas Goose.  The story tells of a husband and wife: the wife knows and loves Jesus; the husband cannot understand how a God could come to earth as a man.  Through trying to save a flock of migrant geese on a stormy night, the husband has a revelation." As the migrant geese, the actors gave witness to their experience of trying to seek sanctuary: "The system is designed to create chaos, to kick you when you are down." Sarah Teather, JRS UK Director,  thanked those involved in preparing the service, and reminded everyone that the work of accompaniment fulfilled through JRS's weekly day centre, its day centre plus activities (including the choir and drama group), and the detention visiting programme are all reliant on the support of people of good will. Han, a committed Catholic who has been coming to JRS for about a year, was performing  with the JRS Gospel Choir, which helps to counter the crushing sense of isolation that many of JRS' refugee friends experience. “The Home Office has identified me as a person with no purpose in life,” Han explained, “I have been denied housing, healthcare, legal aid and I don’t have any money to support myself, so this is very good help for me.”  Han explained that singing in the choir “rejuvenates the mind, the soul. It encourages me to face challenges in life.”
GERMANY
Essen lays in the center of the Ruhr Area. Every day in the Abuna Frans House the message of Christmas works, and Ludger Hillebrand SJ feels like in Bethlehem: "There! I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door, to which I enter and eat with him and he with me." (Rev 3:20) Father Lutz Müller and I have been running the Abuna-Frans-Haus for 20 months, a flat-sharing community of eight refugees and us Jesuits. Two housemates came from the street. First of all a short conversation over the phone with the person who visited them. Emergency situation! So, rooms cleaned and vacuumed, bed made, towels laid out, received. At first we didn't know why they had landed on the street. We simply opened the door and had tea with them. We learn the life story of all our roommates bit by bit. One of them told it to us only after more than a year. It took him so long to gain trust in us. Two hours of narration for over three years of escape from Africa via Greece to us. We normally don't ask about the reasons for the flight and the exact way to Germany. We wait adventitiously what comes and help where help is requested. The one former homeless Syrian knocked on my door late in the evening. He wanted to speak. At that time he spoke almost no German, I do not speak Arabic. I told him clearly that I did not understand him. He didn't care. He talked in tears. Just go for it and I listened as far as I could. What did I learn from that? I don't understand everything, can't understand everything at all, probably doesn't have to understand everything either. Simply being there, opening the door, facing the other, is already light in the darkness of this world. "His own did not receive Him" In the Gospel of Christmas according to John one can read: "He came into his property, but his own did not receive him". In recent years the borders have become denser, higher, more insurmountable. Our Christian Europe lets Africans drown in the Mediterranean and cooperates with dictators so that no one unexpectedly stands before our doors. As the fourth largest arms exporter, we earn a lot of money with many wars. And we wonder why people flee to us. In the year 2016, the repeatedly quoted climax of the alleged refugee crisis, one refugee per hundred Germans. Converted this means that the individual German could only eat 99% of his breakfast! What a drama! And in the meantime many of them have already been deported again, travelled back, or moved to families in other EU states. The policy of isolation and deportation is having an effect. What happens to the refugees who came to our house? One, a civil engineer from Syria, found a job as a civil engineer in Essen. A young man from Guinea is doing an apprenticeship as a baker; another is doing an apprenticeship as a restaurant specialist. All the others take language courses and take part in qualification courses for their future work. And we who, with the help of congregations and orders and countless volunteers, have opened the door for eight people? We meet silent and eloquent, young and old men. One of our roommates is called Jesus, two are called Mohamed and one is called Joseph. After months of living together, we understand each other better and we don't have to ask so many questions. Interreligious and international coexistence needs time and a lot of patience. On the way we enjoy the common food from the cultural areas of Africa and Arabia. "But to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in his name. Like children, we do not understand much in all its depth, drama and tragedy. But like children, we are happy when the Congo resident helps the Lebanese. And when a young roommate lets the Internet rest and goes shopping with an old one. Many small effective lights. Like in Bethlehem. Hallelujah.
ITALY
The Saint Ignatius Foundation celebrated Saint Francis Xavier last 3 December, spending a few hours in the facilities of the Combonian Fathers, where the Centro Astalli in Trento has been welcoming twelve young migrants for a couple of years and, since the end of September, some university students who share their daily lives with peers who come from places of dramatic suffering. The Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Roberto del Riccio SJ, who encouraged those present to look beyond the borders, cultivating, like Francis Xavier, their inner desires. Afterwards, the protagonists were the same six university students who live this experience of life, starting from the values of active citizenship and combining together the motto "accompany, serve, defend" and the mission of the Combonian Fathers to spend themselves for others. Hence the nice name given to this innovative project of intercultural coexistence: University Combo. The testimonies of these young people gave a concrete lesson, dialogued and shared, on the beauty of diversity, on the possibility to weave deep, moving and daily relationships, in contrast with today's world that seems to raise the pull of fear and intolerance. After the direct testimonies, a sober dinner, prepared by some of the organizations that are members of the Foundation, helped to continue the dialogue, nourishing the many diversities that tasted the food.

Youth & Media

VATICAN
Pope Francis addresses the International Jesuit community of the Gesù “The plant grows from the roots, which are not seen but which support the whole. And it stops giving fruit not when it has few branches, but when the roots are dry,” said Pope Francis to staff and students of the International College of the Gesù in Rome on the 3rd December. The community celebrated their jubilee since its founding by Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ in 1968. “On the fiftieth year, that of the Jubilee, the Scripture says that ‘each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan’ (Lev 25: 10). But no-one needs to pack his suitcase!” The Holy Father joked at the beginning of his speech. The Bible passage, though, helped introduce the main theme of the address, which was revisiting and nurturing the Society’s roots. The topic was developed around three key verbs: to base, to grow, to mature. Firstly, Pope Francis referred to Saint Francis Xavier, whose feast occurred on that same day. “I beg you, in all your matters, to base yourselves totally in God” (Letter 90 from Kagoshima). The quote was an encouragement to base on the origins. And the fact that the College is in Rome, in the same house where St Ignatius lived, wrote the Constitutions and sent the first companions in mission, is indeed an extra prompt to go back to the founding stones of the order. A longer reflection of what soon revealed to be a message not only for those present in the Consistory Hall but for the whole Society went in for the second term: to grow. “There is no growth without crisis – do not be afraid of crises, do not be afraid – as there is no fruit without pruning or victory without struggle.” The Pope warned against ‘the worst evil that can happen to us’ – mentioning another Jesuit, Fr Henri de Lubac SJ: spiritual worldliness. This, in the Holy Father’s view, is “the greatest danger in this time: spiritual worldliness, which leads you to clericalism and so on. If instead growth is a constant action against one’s ego, there will be much fruit.” Two positive signs of this path are freedom and obedience. “Prayer will be of great help, prayer is never to be neglected: it is the legacy that Fr Arrupe left us at the end, the ‘swansong’ of Fr Arrupe.” Pope Francis invited everyone to go back to the 1981 conference the former Superior General held at the refugee camp in Thailand, after which he took the aeroplane to Rome, where he had his stroke. And lastly, the talk moved to the verb to mature. Returning to the plant-comparison, the Holy Father said “one does not mature in the roots and in the trunk, but by putting out the fruits, which fertilize the earth with new seeds.” Describing it as the most profound words a Pope addressed to the Jesuits, the Holy Father recalled St Paul VI’s talk to the Society of Jesus in 1974: “Everywhere in the Church, even in the most difficult and pioneering fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is a confrontation between the burning needs of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there, there have been and there are the Jesuits.” The call of the congregation is to go on the outskirts, “in the deserts of humanity”. Even though they may find themselves as lambs among the wolves, the Jesuits must remain lambs, and not fight against the predators: for when the Shepherd will reach them, He will recognize his flock. Read the full address on the Vatican website.
ITALY
The priorities, selected for the schools of the EUM Province besides those of the Action Statement of Rio de Janeiro, have been strengthened during the meeting of the School Heads, held in Gressoney (AO) from 19th to 22nd November. This was a precious time for personal formation, with inputs on the examination of conscience given by Fr. Gaetano Piccolo SJ and Fr. Mauro Bossi of Social Updates made special reference to the promotion of environmental and social policies and to the care of our common home. This was followed by group work, proposals made for projects to be initiated in the schools, as well as moments of prayer for common growth.
SPAIN
On the occasion of the feast of St. Francis Xavier and the International Day of Volunteeringy), the Magis and Entreculturas Office presented in Madrid the experiences of Jesuit International Volunteering. They did it with four personal testimonies of volunteers and companions. In the words of Alvaro Galera, from the MAGIS Pastoral Office, the Jesuit international volunteering is "a single Ignatian proposal but with different expressions" to "transform persons and commit themselves to build the Kingdom and to make a fair and fraternal world". These experiences must be loaded with "depth" and "horizon". Deep because they must overcome the barrier of selfie, of "volunteer-tourism"... and horizon in the same sense of transformation of persons. The young people who are going through these experiences are asked for a previous journey, such as having had some social commitment or volunteering in Spain, and a certain spiritual and community journey, apart from availability and seriousness. The program offer previous formation and a proposal to accompany the return processes. In the framework of the presentation, Ana Vázquez, linked the life of Francisco Javier with the international volunteer, of which he forms part as a team. What does this Jesuit saint teach us when applied to volunteer work? Francisco Javier challenges us to foster intercultural competences; to horizontality in his relations of friendship with the people he met in his life; to personal and group transformation and to take the leap to distant lands... "Sometimes we need to leave our land for certain personal transformations", concluded Ana Vázquez. More info: magis.social@jesuitas.es
ITALY
The Manual of guidelines of the Province’s Websites is now available The desire for renewal that has united the pre-existing Provinces and guided them in the process towards the creation of a new territorial reality (the Euro-Mediterranean Province) is also reflected in the commitment to define the new guidelines of its digital identity. The project, created by the EUM Communications Office, in collaboration with Kaleidon and 5aDesign, was created with the aim of providing instructions for the development of our online presence. The first steps were listening and understanding the communication needs of all those involved in the process, in order to be able to establish a solution that would comprise and even anticipate the main needs of the Province. This means setting up a standard of communication that values every single contribution coming from the networks and the works, guides and harmonizes the sites, and explains every single element to guide all users towards its correct use.  This is a sign of commitment towards serving the Church in the present times, as we learn to seek and find God in all things, even on the web. The e-manual which is available on-line will also be available in html format in the coming months. The communications office will be available to help users in its implementation.

In-depth Reflection

SPAIN
The Diego de Pantoja Year closed at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid with a round table discussion and a beautiful concert of Chinese court music. Conferences, publications, exhibitions, an international symposium, concerts, a baroque fair dedicated to China and even a place on the street in his hometown, Valdemoro (Madrid), have made up this anniversary for the 400 years since his death. The events have taken place both in the Asian country and in Spain in homage to this Jesuit, Mateo Ricci's companion, known as one of the first sinologists. Pantoja lived in China for more than twenty years, describing in his writings meticulous aspects of Chinese society, culture, rites and customs, which spread widely in Europe and America. He was a pioneer in accessing the Forbidden City at the beginning of the 17th century and, from the heart of China, he also worked hard and with respect to disseminate his extensive knowledge of astronomy, geography, music or philosophy of the Western world, achieving the highest consideration among Ming court scholars. At the event held in Madrid, the director of the Cervantes Institute, Luis García Montero, highlighted with joy how this year has served to "rescue from unjust oblivion" this precursor of cultural and commercial exchanges between China and Spain. He gave Zhang Xiping, director of the Institute of Comparative Civilization and Intercultural Communication at the University of Foreign Studies in Beijing, a portrait of the Jesuit. During the round table several specialists talked about the figure of Pantoja, the importance of the extensive letter (133 pages) that the Jesuit wrote to Luis de Guzmán, Provincial of Toledo in 1602, which was a complete ethnographic report of the first order on Chinese culture. Some of its information was used to correct maps and geographical errors. At the end of the interventions, a concert took place, with habitual instruments of the Chinese Court. This 400th anniversary has awakened in Chinese and Spanish researchers, historians and humanists the interest and impulse for the study of the life and work of Pantoja, as well as the interest for rescuing his historical figure. The mayor of Valdemoro announced that this impulse will continue, at least in his locality, in 2021, when the 450th anniversary of his birth is celebrated. Photos: here. 
SPAIN
CRISTIANISME I JUSTÍCIA is a study center, dedicated to reflecting on social and theological issues. At the urging of the Jesuits of Catalonia, the center was created in 1981 as an attempt to respond to the important mission of “serving faith and promoting justice.” The center brings together an interdisciplinary team of more than 80 professors of the social sciences and theology, as well as other professionals and experts who are in direct contact with concrete social realities. Here are the newest publications of the Centre you can download in English, Catalan and Spanish Guides 10: The Art of Friendship in Saint Ignatius of Loyola In this booklet the author explains the various ways in which Ignatius Loyola experienced friendship and promoted it among his companions. He agreed with Aristotle that friendship was “the thing most necessary for life,” but he also realized that friendship was a spiritual gift that needed to be cultivated and nourished with great care. Author: Josep Mª Rambla Jesuit. Theologian. Specialist in Ignatian spirituality. Study spirituality from insertion into a popular environment and social action. Among his publications: "God, friendship and the poor" (Sal Terrae). "Ignacio de Loyola, lay and Jesuit" (-eides, n. 48) Booklet 169: Dismantling the hells. Practicing the nonviolence of Jesus today In the face of the hells created by violence, oppression, and repression, the victims of injustice seem to have no other alternative than fight (action-reaction) or flight (silent submission). This booklet explores the “third way” of Jesus, which goes far beyond those two options. This “third way” is the path of active non-violence, a path that requires great lucidity, creativity, faith, and constancy. It comes out of a long biblical tradition, and it acquires special meaning in the context of our present-day society. Author: Joan Morera Perich a Jesuit, who earned his licentiate in Biblical Theology from the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome, with a thesis that compares active nonviolence in the Suffering Servant of Isaiah with the active nonviolence of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the author of Diàleg de sords? Pedagogia per a reconciliar conflictes(Claret 2009) [Dialogue of the Deaf? Pedagogy for Reconciling Conflicts], and he is interested in assisting victims of conflicts, using the active nonviolence of the Kingdom.  Paper 11 Christianity and the new right in Europe The policies of the so-called New Right and its questioning of the most basic human rights, especially as regards migrants and refugees, undermine the deepest foundations of the Old Europe. The present text seeks to investigate the causes and conditions that lie behind this specter that is haunting the continent, and it warns of the attempts by movements of the extreme right to use Christianity and religious confrontation in order to justify their ideology.
RUSSIA
On November 6-8, St Thomas Institute in Moscow, in collaboration with the Lutheran community, held a seminar in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The seminar became an opportunity to remember the sad events which left Europe very weakened and the role of the confessional conflict in it. The participants also reflected on the more general topic of interplay between the political power and the Christian institutions along the centuries and in the present. This year’s seminar was a continuation of the collaboration with the Lutheran community: last year the Institute hosted a discussion on the theological topic of justification as part of the events remembering the 500 years of Reformation. 
GERMANY
Father General Arturo Sosa SJ received the Nihil obstat from the Vatican and appointed Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig SJ Rector of the University of St. Georgen with immediate effect. The University Conference had re-elected Wucherpfennig in February for a third term of office. Sosa is Grand Chancellor of the university and as such appoints the elected rector. For the appointment the so-called Nihil obstat, the declaration of no objection, was necessary. The Vatican's Congregation for Education has now issued this declaration, after Father Wucherpfennig had issued a declaration in which he emphasized that as a religious and priest he was committed to the authentic teaching office of the Church. Where required by his ministries, he fully and comprehensively explained the Church's teaching on the possibility of ordination of women (Ordinatio sacerdotalis) and of blessings for same-sex couples (letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on pastoral care for homosexual persons). As pastor and scholar he will continue to mark the questions he addresses to this doctrine as his personal interpretation. As a Christian and scientist, he had the personal hope, according to Wucherpfennig, that the ecclesiastical doctrine presented in the two Roman letters would continue to open up and develop further. His public statements on the diaconate of women and on blessings for couples who are unable to marry sacramentally were aimed at such a further development. Wucherpfennig will now publish articles on these two questions and present the results of his research - in faithful and creative continuity with the fundamental doctrines of the Church. The Provincial of the German Province of the Jesuits, Father Johannes Siebner, SJ, was relieved that the elected Rector of the University could now be appointed and thanked Father Sosa, Superior General, expressly for his commitment. "I am very grateful for the broad support that Fr. Ansgar Wucherpfennig and the University of St. Georgen have received in recent weeks. At the same time he thanked Prof. Thomas Meckel, who had represented Ansgar Wucherpfennig SJ as Prorector since October 1st, on behalf of the Order.

Preparing for Mission

WORLD
18-21 December. The Commission on Solidarity met in Brussels, Belgium. Father General established the Commission in 2017 to study ways of implementing solidarity in formation as mandated by GC 36. The Commission comprises the six Conference Presidents, the ACE Provincial, Fr. José Minaku SJ, and the ELC Regional Superior, Fr. Johan Verschueren SJ. They were joined by JCAM Treasurer Fr. Paul Hamill SJ and former Assistant General Treasurer Fr. Francisco Gismondi SJ. The Commission worked on a system of universal solidarity which will be proposed to Father General for consideration. Meeting Room JCEP Curia Visiting the Bollandist library While in Brussels, the Commission members took time off to visit some institutions of the European Union and European works of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials. On the final day of the meeting the Conference Presidents met to consider issues of common concern. At JRS Europe Dinner at Saint Benedict Community At the hall of the presidents in the EU Parliament Meeting with Mr Diego Canga, Head of Cabinet EU President 
BELGIUM
Traditionally, the Heverlee nursing home celebrated a Christmas festivity in which all the nursing and service staff are closely involved. Especially the Eucharist is a particularly warm communal celebration.  During the word service the Christmas story is depicted alive.  The youngest nurse recruited was to be Mary. She seemed to have stepped out of a painting by the Italian painter Raphael... The gardener accompanied her as Joseph, in Bedouin clothes. At the start of the celebration they walked into the church and are taken by a winged angel to the stable next to the choir. There Mary puts her child in a woven basket. Then the shepherds arrive but unfortunately without sheep. Meanwhile, the choir sings Christmas songs and the Christmas story is read by other members of the nursing staff. At the end of the celebration an old brother found his tenor voice again to sing Silent Night, assisted by two remarkable soprano voices. Our minister can testify with how much pleasure rehearsals were attended and with female creativity for appropriate clothing was sought. During the celebration there was joy on everyone's face to read even if one is Muslim or has little knowledge of Catholic liturgy.
ITALY
Provincial’s letter to the EUM Jesuits. "During this year dedicated to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, we have rediscovered the many aspects of his rich spiritual life, among which we have often recalled his proximity to the poor and his social sensitivity. However, this should not diminish in importance the evidence brought out of that long and beautiful tradition where men at a very young age have chosen to live a life of chastity, not as a sacrifice, but as an expression of a total gift of self to the Lord.” The document, intended for the Jesuits of the EUM Province, has in the meantime been presented during a conference about the person of St. Aloysius, and is now being shared on the feast of the Holy Family. Read the document
EUROPE
This is an introduction text