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Europe is being besieged by forces of withdrawal, fear and mutual exclusion
At the end of the Consiglio allargato
Father General’s Extended Council met in early September. The presidents of the Jesuit Conferences, which on a geographical basis bring together the Jesuit Provinces of the whole world, participate in this body. We asked three questions of each of the presidents; here are their testimonies.
Franck Janin – Europe (JCEP)
In your service as JCEP President, what has been, up to now, your main source of “consolation”, of joy?
This first year as President of the European Conference was a year of discovery. A large part of my time consisted in participating in the meetings of the collaboration networks (about twenty) that exist between the Provinces and Regions. What delighted and comforted me mostly, was to see all these companions - and for some networks their partners in the mission - coming from all over Europe, entering into dialogue, sharing their experiences, considering common projects. The European Conference is marked by a great diversity of countries, languages and sometimes difficult histories. What we can build in terms of common thinking and action is of paramount importance at a time when Europe is being besieged by forces of withdrawal, fear and mutual exclusion. The Province of the Near East is also part of our Conference. The idea that conflicts of interest can turn into deadly conflicts should never be underestimated.
In the context of your Conference, what is the main challenge (or challenges) you will be facing during the upcoming months?
In this sense, one of the major challenges of our Conference is to continue to build a true union of hearts and minds among us. It is clear that religious or not we are influenced by the socio-political conditions in which we live. This tends to undermine understanding and unity among nations or regions. It also reflects on our relationships between Jesuits. Our mission at the 36th General Congregation was strongly confirmed as a mission of reconciliation. Being credible in this ministry of reconciliation presupposes that we do not stop working to build communion among ourselves. The restructuring of the Provinces, which is also an ongoing exercise in the Conference, can be an opportunity to open our borders and overcome our mutual particularities and fears. We will soon discuss the question of our Formation Centres among major superiors. Making them ever more “European” is also a challenge.
What will you mainly remember from your participation to Father General’s Consiglio allargato, in relationship with the process toward the definition of Universal Apostolic Preferences?
During this Consiglio Allargato we heard many testimonies on critical situations in our world. This contemplation of the world, directly linked to what Saint Ignatius proposes in the Exercises with the contemplation of the Incarnation, is key in this process of discernment of our universal apostolic preferences. It was, Ignatius said, in contemplating the world in its need to be “saved”, that the Trinity made the decision that the Son would become man. I would keep in mind the suburbs of Naples, the exploitation of peoples and nature in the Amazon, the supra-national political and economic stakes that fuel wars everywhere, such as in Syria, the challenges of reconciliation that we hope for, while conflicts, whether open or closed, seem never to end... Let us hope that this contemplation will enable us to make the necessary choices knowing that our “least Society”, while having many resources, can only be humble and count on God’s grace.
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