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.

Visit the web site.

It was in the Autumn of 2021 that the European Laudato Si’ Alliance (ELSiA) organised its first ecology workshop in Taizé. As some might know, ELSiA is a Brussels-based alliance of several faith-inspired organisations to which JESC belongs, that collaborate together in order to promote the ecological vision and proposed practices of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical letter. This first workshop went very well, so the call for a second workshop this November 2022, dedicated to “Ecological Conversion” and taking place also in Taizé, was welcomed with much expectation  So, to Taizé we went, on the weekend of 10-13th November, 25 people from several different countries and organisations, united by the work and care for our common Home. The facilities in Taizé are sober and simple, and the beauty of the place (in the French Borgogne region), the songs of the common prayers (three times a day, according to the centuries-old monastic tradition) and the hospitality of the brothers (who invited us for their table for the Sunday lunch) make Taizé a truly remarkable place.  As for the contents, the workshop had challenging inputs from different speakers, namely Fr. Federico Tartaglia and his personal call for unifying religion and nature, and Dr. Mark Charlesworth and the importance of Aquinas’ theory of virtues for proposing today a new way of living. We were also invited to immerse in nature, in “experiential moments” conducted by the experts Christine Kristoff and Dr. Raffele Rufo, as a complement  to our natural western tendency of “intellectualising reality”. There was also time for a zoom connection with two participants in COP27, the Member of European Parliament Pierre Larrouturou and the African activist Tanin Kuntai, who shared about the ongoing negotiations and the hopes and frustrations they were living in the Sharm el-Sheik meeting. Last morning, we heard the team of the innovative “Casa Velha” ecology and spirituality project in Portugal, a place where visitors are invited to learn and allow themselves to be led by the rhythms and “voice” of Mother Earth.  At the end, each participant was to summarise the learnings of these days. Some felt enriched by the intellectual inputs and shared reflections. Others named the serenity of a different style of living, in deep connection with nature. And others mentioned still the interconnectedness among all participants, when there’s the time for “real listening and sharing”. Being now back to the European cities where most of us work and live, the several imprints of this Taizé meeting remain, and drive us further in the direction of the individual and societal “ecological conversion” that our planet, and people affected by climate change, urge for. 
Saturday October 8th marked the European Leadership Programme's (ELP) Inauguration day which welcomed the new cohort for Fall 2022. This cohort consists of 16 Fellows coming from nine different countries; Hungary, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Philippines, England, Ukraine, Belgium, Brazil, and Poland. The day started with introductions and ended with a mass presided by JESC's Director, Filipe Martins. Their progress will be documented on ELP's social media accounts. Such, and much more information about the ELP, can be found here.
JESC’s team has gone through some changes in these last months, and the joy of receiving new members (like the recently arrived Feblezi Huebi, our new Junior Communications Officer) goes hand in hand with the sadness of saying goodbye to departing members. Now, Luciano Larivera SJ is going back to Italy, after spending more than a year in JESC’s European Affairs Secretariat. Luciano worked tirelessly, many times discreetly in the background, to set up events such as Passion for Europe and the 2021 Jesuit Alumni Brussels Gala. He was also the author of several articles, explaining different European political issues with clarity and depth. His commitment and availability will be missed and remembered (as well as his cooking skills!). JESC wishes Luciano a great return to Italy, and he knows that this will continue being his home as well. On the picture: Filipe Martins SJ and Luciano Larivera SJ
JESC has once again moved to a new office! For many years, JESC - formerly OCIPE, Office Catholique d'Information et d'Initiative Pour l'Europe - has operated in the premises of the Foyer Catholique Européen, a welcoming space and community whose building renovation is about to be finished (so they have now some nice new offices ready to be rented). In these last months JESC had moved to rue Destouvelles in Schaerbeek, a popular neighbourhood near Gare du Nord, welcomed by its Flemish Jesuit companions. And at the beginning of October, JESC was invited to settle in La Viale Europe – another beautiful community project right next to the European Parliament and very much connected with the French-speaking Belgian Jesuits – where it hopes to stay for many years (enough moving for the time being!). A wholehearted “thank you” to the Foyer and Destouvelles for having hosted JESC previously, and to La Viale for making the team feel at home from the very first moment. Partners and friends can now find JESC’s office at Chaussée de Wavre 205, and are warmly invited to visit when in town!
One month from now, and in the midst of a worsening and increasingly dangerous climate crisis, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) will last from November 6th to November 18th. The stakes are high, the negotiations face complex challenges and the need to overcome differences and work collaboratively is crucial. In this coming month, each one of us has the power to help build momentum and push for stronger political will and more ambitious climate action. The effects of climate change are increasingly tangible, severe and widespread. Almost 8 million people have been displaced from their homes, and over 1,500 have died due to the recent floods in Pakistan. The last European summer was among the warmest on record. Droughts, cyclones and wildfires have been devastating communities from China, to Africa all the way to the United States. Despite alarming evidence, our collective response is not nearly enough. There is still more investment in fossil fuels than in climate mitigation and adaptation. Simply said, this means we are feeding the problem more than we are the solution. Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, reinforced that “the planet already is 1.2°C hotter, yet new fossil fuel projects every day accelerate our race towards the precipice.” On similar lines, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell warned that if we do not correct our course, we will “fall off a cliff.”  Read the analysis of the importance and urgency of this conference by Victoria Reynal (JESC Ecology)
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