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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From Friday September 16 to Sunday the 18th, the Passion for Europe event took place in the La Pairelle Spiritual Centre, in Namur, Belgium. About 60 participants from more than 20 nationalities gathered to reflect on issues relevant to Europe, including the state of democracy and some of its threats, the growing presence and influence of technology in our lives, the values that are meaningful to us, the importance of dialogue, and the role of Christianity in today’s society. The event was made up of sessions in which leading experts in the field of European policy gave presentations to the general audience, and then engaged in debates with other panellists and the public. Additionally, participants were divided into small groups, in which they were able to delve deeper into the topics being discussed. Each group summarised its main conclusions in a document; and then all the groups’ conclusions were consolidated into one overarching text. The Passion for Europe event was a unique opportunity for participants to look at Europe with some perspective, to reflect on its challenges and opportunities, on what it means to each of us, to listen to others with openness and respect, and to practice the complex but necessary art of dialogue. The programme included expert and renowned speakers like Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, who gave the keynote speech; Msrg. Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg; Paul F. Nemitz, Principal Advisor in the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the EU Commission; Fr Paolo Benanti T.O.R., Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University ; Sébastien Maillard, Director of the Institut Jacques Delors; Victoria Martin de la Torre, Press officer of the S&D Group in the European Parliament; Clemens Ladenburger, Deputy Director-General of the EU Commission’s legal Department; Sigrid Marz, Board member of UNIAPAC; Andreas Kolodziejak, Economist at the European Commission; and Gyula Ocskay, General Secretary, CESCI (Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives) Victoria Reynal
It was on the evening of September 6th that many partners and friends gathered in the gardens of Collége Saint Michelle to wish well to the former JESC director, Fr. Peter Rožič. The first surprise was the wonderful Slovenian food and wine that Peter’s family had sent from his hometown. Everybody was then presented with some joyful folk songs sung by Peter (who also played the concertine!) and his brother Robin. After, it was time for some words of farewell and thankfulness by fellow Jesuits (including Fr. Franck Janin, President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials), the entire JESC team, other lay friends responsible for partner organisations, and also some young European Leadership Programme (ELP) Fellows whom Peter directed. The evening ended with a short shared moment of prayer leaded by Peter, in thankfulness for all that has been achieved together during these last years in Brussels.
Faith and Politics 2022. Climate breakdown and the biodiversity collapse; the rise of Far-Right populisms; migration pressures; the on-going consequences of the United Kingdom’s commitment to ‘Brexit’; and the human, trade, and energy crises created by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – this is a brief and very incomplete list of the challenges facing Europe today. But there is hope that the EU – and the continent more generally – might be able to rise to meet these challenges. That hope is strong for those of us who organised the Faith and Politics workshop in Venice early this month. Almost 20 young people from across the continent gathered in that historic city to engage in a week of formation and reflection on what a life dedicated to public service might look like in the present day. While some are already involved in electoral politics or senior positions in public administration, others were volunteer climate activists or advocates for marginalised communities. Teachers, software engineers, diplomats, this diverse bunch of strangers started the week with a shared interest and ended it with a new community of peers and a renewed sense of the direct relevance of the gospel and Christian values for our public square. Established initially more than 15 years ago, the workshop had not run since 2018 due to the pandemic. This year represented a sort of transition for the programme as Edmond Grace, one of the founders of the workshop handed leadership over to a new team composed of members from JESC in Brussels, JCFJ in Dublin, and Aggiornamenti Sociali in Milan (with lots of help from elsewhere besides). The schedule was shaped from the outset so that this week would represent more than just an opportunity to engage in some “continuing professional development” but that it would be a sort of immersion in how to approach public service as a spiritual task, thinking about that work seriously as a Christian vocation. Intellectual and professional input was arranged alongside and surrounded by reflective practice in groups and for the individual participants themselves, equipping them to rewrite their own story of what it means to seek the common good. The highlight of the week seems to have been the visit to the workshop by exemplars in each of those three fields of public service – the Irish parliamentarian, Peadar Tóibín, the Portuguese governmental department leader, Rosário Farmhouse, and the Maltese NGO leader (JRS Malta), Katrine Camilleri. Participants spoke of how inspiring it was to encounter mature leaders who could articulate how their faith convictions shaped their professional commitments. The challenges facing our societies are complex and serious. But the dedication, creativity, and maturity of the participants of this workshop renewed our hope that our societies can prevail even under the pressures they now face. Faith and Politics is presently envisioned to be a bi-annual event. Though those interested in learning more about the programme are welcome to contact us at www.faithandpolitics.eu or at venicefandp@gmail.com Kevin Hargaden, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin, Ireland
A few changes in JESC: Peter Rožič and Edmond Grace leaving and Filipe Martins will be the new director. Franck Janin SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, announced that Peter Rožič SJ will leave his position as Director of JESC and European Coordinator of the Social Apostolate on 6 September 2022. He will be succeeded by Filipe Martins SJ. Filipe Martins started working at JESC in September 2021, becoming, at the same time, a member of the St. Benedict Community in Brussels. He was JESC Justice Renewal Assistant and Congress Officer for the Justice and Ecology Congress that took place in Loyola in March 2022. Filipe was born in Lisbon in 1970, got a degree in Electronics Engineering, and before entering the Society of Jesus in 1995, did one year of volunteer work in Mozambique. He studied Theology in Madrid and Rome. After returning to Portugal, Filipe served the province successively as Vocations Promoter and Director of the University Pastoral Centre of Coimbra, then as Coordinator of the Social Sector and Director of a Centre for homeless people in Oporto, and then as Socius to the Provincial. For the last three years before arriving in Brussels he was engaged in the renewal process of a Jesuit School in the North of Portugal. Edmond Grace will also leave this role as Secretary for Ecology in JESC and pursue a different mission in his beloved Ireland. Creative, sensitive, empathic, visionary, artistic, committed, kind-and-big-hearted, an inspirational speaker and writer… These are some words that could describe Edmond Grace SJ. During his time as JESC’s Secretary for Ecology, Edmond had a number of relevant accomplishments:  Together with Willem Vriesendorp, founder of #SustainablePublicAffairs, he prepared a European Parliament event through Article 17.  He published the book Business and the Earth and worked hard to promote its messages. He launched the book in 2021 at COMECE headquarters with Janez Potočnik, members and authorities of COMECE and UCSIA. He also participated in the recent JESC webinar ‘Business and the Earth’, with Josianne Gauthier from CIDSE, Enrique Meroño from Iberdrola, and Cédric Pacheco from Laudes Foundation.  He gave lectures and talks at several venues and events including at the European Parliament, the Passion for Europe retreat, ELP, Faith & Politics, and Casa Velha in Portugal.    We are grateful to Filipe Martins for accepting this position and would also like to thank Peter Rožič and Edmond Grace warmly for the years they have dedicated to JESC.
👏 The Business and the Earth webinar was a big success! A fascinating opportunity to reflect on the role of business in society, and specifically in the ecological transition. Moderated by JESC's Senior Officer for Ecology Adriana Opromolla, each of the four outstanding speakers provided rich insights, and together offered a diverse and complementary vision of this topic.  🌍 Edmond Grace gave a broad overview of the role of business in our society, challenging the notion that the sole purpose of business is to create profit. He remarked that businesses are more influential than the Church ever was, which is why the self-perception businesses have of themselves is crucial. He also called for a change in the way businesses generally view resources: these should no longer be seen as beasts of burden to be exploited without limits.  💡 Josianne Gauthier (CIDSE) highlighted the importance of dialogue, for which listening and being open are essential preconditions. She warned that sometimes power imbalances or certain privileges create unbalanced situations in which dialogue becomes difficult. When referring to the current unhealthy relationship our society has with the Earth, she reminded us that we are all accomplices because we all consume and function within this system. The ecological transition is a challenge not only for businesses but for each one of us.   ✅ Enrique Meroño Sierra explained how Iberdrola decided to become part of the solution around the year 2000, and how it works not only in renewable energy production but also in energy efficiency as a way to reduce electricity consumption. In line with Josianne’s referral to dialogue, Enrique mentioned the need for a new language to enable different actors and sectors to understand each other and address system failures. He also stressed the importance of including externalities in the real economy.  🌐 Lastly, Cedric Pacheco explained how, based on its experience, the Laudes Foundation reached the conclusion that engaging with business is necessary but not enough when addressing problems like climate change and social inequality. Why? Because the way businesses operate can be a consequence of the system they’re a part of. Therefore, a systemic approach is essential. Cédric then looked more closely at the work Laudes does regarding finance. He explained Laudes’ main areas of intervention, which include changing the way financial institutions function, supporting policy changes, and rethinking the economic system.  We are very grateful to our speakers for their time, commitment and enthusiasm, and to all the participants who were part of this fruitful dialogue.  Most of JESC's team members joined the gathering: Luciano Larivera Filipe Martins Peter Rožič Telmo Olascoaga Michel Victoria Reynal 
👏 The 5th Laudato Si Reflection Day hosted on May 17 by the European Laudato Si' Alliance (ELSiA) was a great success! We heard inspiring stories of ecological conversion, like the one of Ciaran Foulds, who moved from Brussels to a permaculture farm, in an effort to align his values with his lifestyle. Like Elizabeth Sawin, who has been living in an ecovillage in the state of Vermont for 20 years. Like Sara Ferigo, who travelled to Peru to see for herself what impact her European lifestyle was having elsewhere. 🌍 These personal accounts were linked with more structural, systemic reflections about the way our society works, the challenges we face and with initiatives that are striving to make a difference. From food production systems to consumption habits, from the role of trade unions to the role of religions. From small actions to systemic, so-called “multi-solving” approaches. 💡 Some of the key, most inspiring messages we’d like to share:  ⚈ The ecological transition will not happen unless justice is a part of it. ⚈ We need to solve current existential problems with a different consciousness than the one which created them. ⚈ Being climate activists is about asking ourselves questions, being aware that every action has an impact. ⚈ We can have a significant positive impact by changing our diets and reducing the amount of food we waste (GHG emissions from food waste are higher than the aviation sector emissions! ✈️) ⚈ The best we can do is to start where we are and keep going consistently - that is the path to scale. We live in uncertain times, but can ground ourselves in our ethics, values, ways of being and acting. ⚈ The ecological transition requires less consumption, because “greed can outstrip technology”, as Mark Charlesworth put it. Most JESC team members gladly joined the gathering: Adriana Opromolla, Enikő Fehéreková, Filipe Martins, Luciano Larivera, Peter Rožič, SJ and Victoria Reynal. #ecologicaltransition #laudatosi #ecologicalconversion #sustainability #simplicity #consumption #foodwaste #climateaction #eugreendeal JESC