The core mission at JESC (Jesuit European Social Centre) is to reflect on the life, policies and practice of the European Union. We seek an engagement which authentically expresses Christian faith, remains close to the poor and marginalised, analyses social reality with competence, and advocates for justice in European political structures. In a context in which the EU is undergoing the most acute political crisis of its existence, JESC seeks a critical but constructive engagement with the EU. As a work of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, JESC expresses the commitment of the Society of Jesus to a Europe where human rights, freedom and solidarity are the foundation of integration.

Operationally, JESC is organized in four Secretariats:

    • - European Affairs: an institutional presence in Brussels to the EU Institutions, and with ecclesial and civil society organizations that relate to them, facilitating discussion and reflection of European issues.
    • - Justice: coordination and assistance to the four Justice Networks of the JCEP and support for the Delegate for the Social Apostolate of the Conference.
    • - Ecology: support for the advocacy work on integral ecology of Jesuits and partners under the umbrella of EcoJesuit; publication of “Eco-bites”, our ecology newsletter.
    • - Leadership: running of the European Leadership Programme (ELP), a five-month Ignatian based formation that combines European politics, the experience of living in community, and practical insights into the European institutions, and also spiritual reflection, coaching sessions and volunteering activities.

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The European Laudato si Alliance – known as ELSiA – hosted an eco-spirituality workshop for its six faith-based member organisations in Taizé, France, the weekend of November 12- 14. With the goal of reflecting on the ecological spirituality described in Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ encyclical, 14 representatives of COMECE, Caritas Europa, Justice and Peace Europe, CIDSE, Laudato si’ Movement and JESC gathered in Taizé. The workshop included lectures by renowned speakers and focused on issues like re-thinking theology, the place of human beings on Earth, personal hopes and fears related to environmental challenges, inspirational accounts of Christian saints and personalities. First, Professor Michael Rosenberger, from Linz University, gave an introductory, in-depth lecture on integral ecology. He reminded the audience of some of the most threatening current environmental problems and the relevance of Laudato si’ in helping us address these challenges. Martin Grüger, a Benedictine oblate, gave an account of Saint Hildegard’s path, offering insight from her visions and writings. Having lived in the 12th century, Saint Hildegard already had visions related to how humans treat nature and how nature can react to that maltreatment. She also reflected on the fact that every being is held by another, a concept which is intimately connected with Laudato si’s message. JESC’s Secretary for Ecology Edmond Grace SJ gave a lively presentation about Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Saint Ignatius endured hardship, delved into dark places within himself, and faced despair. From this place of darkness he cried out with an open heart to God who showed him, like a teacher with a pupil, how to live a new life. In his visions, Saint Ignatius also saw God as being present in all of creation. Brother Alois, prior of Taizé, reflected on Taizé’s founder Brother Roger’s legacy. Brother Roger grew up in the Jura mountains of Switzerland, in close contact with nature, which nurtured in him a deep love of nature. He believed in simplicity and beauty, and held that “simplicity of heart leads to simplicity of life”. Another inspiring concept of his is that solidarity with creation leads to engaging in changing our lifestyles. Doctor Ottilia Lukacs, a Biblical expert from the Theological College of Pécs, Hungary, gave an in-depth overview of the account of creation in Genesis chapter one. She spoke of how the ‘formless void’ reflected the dislocation of exile and how this experience coloured their attitude of care for the Earth. She presented the Earth Bible project with its six eco-justice principles. Professor Eric Charmetant SJ from Centre Sèvres in France spoke about the challenge of changing lifestyles and of spirituality as a trigger for change. He also reflected on the possibility of shifting away from our current strong anthropocentrism towards a more ecocentric or balanced vision. As human beings, we have a special responsibility for the care of our common home. Professor Charmetant also referred to Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess’ Deep Ecology concept and related it to Laudato si’. The last speaker, French eco-journalist Christine Kristoff-Lardet, took the audience on a voyage of numerous communities of Europe and beyond and their efforts to develop and implement eco-friendly measures. She reminded us that communities are imperfect, as individual human beings are. Importantly, she inspired the audience by showcasing the variety of initiatives that can be sought and the efforts being made in so many different places towards an ecological conversion. The weekend concluded with the group reflecting on what they themselves had received from their time together and on what they would like to say as a group to the  various organisations of ELSiA. Victoria Reynal
The  Loyola 2022 Congress will take place between 28th March to 1st April 2022 at Loyola, Spain. The Congress will act as a milestone in the “deeper renewal” and align processes of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials (JCEP) Justice Networks, equipping them to implement the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs). Our intention will be to strengthen the apostolic body as we seek to explore the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs). This will be a week of formation, of catalysing input and engagement which can be carried home to our specific offices and which will inform an alignment around our shared pursuit of the UAPs. Take a digital journey through the new Loyola 2022 Congress website.
The Passion for Europe Session brought together participants from over 17 nationalities. The Session, held at La Pareille Centre from 24-26 September, gathered almost 50 participants from diverse backgrounds and keynote speakers of the EU institutions, NGOs and churches to discuss the Future of Europe in preparation of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The session started with Mr. Alain Lamassoure introductory speech on the "Past and future of European Borders". The Chair of the Governing Board of the Council of Europe highlighted that the main key of the future of the EU will be its relationship with Africa. Mr. Lamassoure reminded the participants that all nations are redesigned by war and that the duty of current leaders is to convey and handover to the next generation the importance of learning from the past to design the future. The former French Minister and MEP quoted George Orwell's: "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." Mr. Alain ended his intervention mentioning that the need for a common identity was never so high and that "if there is political will, everything is possible".  On Saturday, the day started with the Session "Beyond borders" and with the intervention of Mr. Gyula Ocskay, General Secretary of CESCI (the Central European Service for Cross-border Initiatives) and Ms. Victoria Martin de la Torre. Mr. Gyula discussed cross-border regionalism and cross-border cooperation and Ms. Victoria presented how the roots of the founding fathers of the EU, their faith and values can inspire more the union and its future today. Mr. Philippe Lamberts, Belgian politician serving as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and chair of the Green group of the Parliament, moved the audience by sharing his vision in the Session "Future of Europe", and expressed hope as a Christian despite the urgency to face Climate change while the pace is not sufficient and the 'Fit for 55' EU package targets could be more ambitious. In his keynote address, Mr. Lamberts stressed the importance of implementing effective tax rates for multinational corporations and rent seekers, he explained the difference between capitalism and the free market, and the enforcement of European values among the youth. At the end of each Session, the participants were divided in multinational groups to discuss the main conclusions of the keynotes speeches. On the last day, Botond Feledy, Director of the European Leadership Programme (ELP), presented the draft contribution of Passion's For Europe Session to the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Called to walk closer with the Excluded, the social apostolate delegates met in Toulouse for the annual networking meeting. While some delegates were able to join online only, most of us arrived on September 22nd enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the Jesuit community as well as the hosting families. Families from the “Welcome” project of JRS France hosted us generously in their homes – as they do migrants within Welcome – while during the day we held our meetings and journeyed to the various works of social apostolate (SA) in the region. Jérôme Gué SJ, the EOF Province SA Delegate and our host, first organised a visit to the ICAM campus (Institut Catholique d'Arts et Métiers) and its Production School. This school offers an exemplary commitment to the integration, formation and employment of young people aged 15 to 18 with little to no qualifications, while ICAM too continues strongly rooted in the Ignatian tradition, offering quality higher education and the professional formation to its students in collaboration with local companies and businesses. In Toulouse, the SA Jesuits are involved in other projects such as ARPEJ (Accompagner vers la Réussite les Parents Et les Jeunes). The volunteers in this project accompany young people in difficulty through Ignatian pedagogy, support for schooling and professional development in the heart of working-class neighbourhoods. After staying at the ARPEJ workshop, we met representatives of the Muslim community in the Bagatelle neighbourhood and visited their mosque. We learned about their shared projects with the local Catholic parish and Jesuit Community, such as the food bank, common meetings and beyond. We concluded our annual meeting with the final Mass and festive couscous dinner, inviting over our collaborators and friends. Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, the SA Secretary in Rome, introduced the festivity with his testimony and sharing on the life and work of Fr. Stan Swamy. We felt special gratitude towards Jérôme for such a wonderful welcome, organisation and exposure to the works of social apostolate in Toulouse, the families and the community. As a network of Delegates, we were able to learn from one another and share about the projects, work and plans of SA in each of our Provinces. In addition, we were pleased to see that, if we want, we can offset the (plane travel) carbon footprint by taking the train instead. Finally, we have taken a number of steps towards the organisation of the Justice and Ecology Congress that we prepare together with other JCEP Justice networks. The Congress will take place in Loyola from March 28th to April 1st of 2022. Peter Rožič SJ
The closing ceremony of the 5th European Leadership Programme edition took place on July 2nd at the Press Club Europe, in Brussels, and joined over 60 participants and friends of the ELP from all corners of the globe. The First Vice-President of the European Parliament (MEP), Roberta Metsola, left a special video message about Leadership to our Fellows. The ceremony started with the Welcome address by Peter Rožič SJ, Director of the Jesuit European Social Centre and by Dr. Stijn Latré, Director of the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp (UCSIA) and was followed by an inspiring prayer by Mgr. Hrvoje Škrlec, chargé d'affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature to the EU. Jaume Duch Guillot, Director-General for Communication of the European Parliament and its Spokesperson, delivered the key-note address. “History has proven many times that leaders driven by strong values obtain the best results and leave the most lasting legacies. And those leaders are always crucial when times are difficult, as they are now” said Mr. Jaume Duch Guillot in his speech. Our ELP Spring Cohort Fellows shared their testimonies about the Programme to celebrate the 5th Cohort's final moments. On July 26, our Spring Cohort Fellows presented and defended their Research Papers at UCSIA, Antwerp. The jury was formed by members of various institutions: JESC Director, Peter Rožič SJ, ELP Manager, Botond Feledy, JESC's Secretary for Ecology, Edmond Grace, members of UCSIA, Director Stijn Latré and UCSIA scientific advisor Barbara Sagaert, and members of KU Leuven, Geertjan Zuijdwegt and Pieter De Witte.
Filipe Martins (POR) will begin working at JESC in September 2021, becoming, at the same time, member of the St. Benedict Community in Brussels. He will be Congress Officer for the preparation of the Justice Congress that will take place in Loyola in April 2022 and Justice Renewal Assistant. Filipe was born in Lisbon in 1970, got a degree in Electronics Engineering before entering the Society of Jesus in 1995, after a year of volunteer work in Mozambique. He studied Theology in Madrid and Rome. In the last fifteen years he has worked in university pastoral and was director of a shelter for homeless people. He served the province as Vocation Promoter, Coordinator of the Social Sector and Socius to the Provincial. For the last three years he was General Director of a Jesuit School in the North of Portugal. His coming to Brussels is actually a return to Belgium, as he was an Erasmus student in Louvain-la-Neuve in 1993. Read more