Jesuits and lay partners – including Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards from Australia – gathered in Rome from 23 to 27 April to discuss what input the social apostolates would make to the process of discernment and planning of the Society, as well as the reorganisation of GIAN.
In an address at the meeting, Fr Sosa asked the delegates to find the passion and the mission to re-energise the Society’s advocacy networks across the globe.
‘To bring change, we need a kind of passion, a “holy anger” if I can put it that way’, he said. ‘We need a passion that cries “enough”. We need a passion that mobilises people of faith and all people of goodwill to work together for change. Because the Gospel is about change, about liberation.’
Fr Sosa noted that Pope Francis has convoked a special Synod on Amazonia in 2019, to help the Church better respond to the ecological call of Laudato Si’.
‘Maybe it is also a call to the Society of Jesus to focus on reconciliation with creation as a dimension of the mission we have received. It is very clear that Pope Francis is thinking not only about a specific geographical area of the world, but that he also wants to move us to more concrete apostolic actions regarding the care of our common home. How can we introduce this matter in our discernment in common and apostolic planning?’
He noted that while globalisation has had a range of negative impacts, particularly on the gap between wealthy and impoverished nations, it also offers opportunities for people to work together that would have previously been impossible.
‘We come together to form a body of Jesuits and partners in mission organized in such a way that collaboration is a characteristic of the entire apostolic body. Our action is also in collaboration with others within the Church or with those persons and groups struggling for social justice, with peacemakers and with those working for the preservation of the environment.’
GIAN is 10 years old this year, and Fr Sosa acknowledged that it is ‘experiencing some of the pains of being an interprovincial network in a largely provincial Jesuit structure’. However, he said that the areas that GIAN covers – migration; ecology; governance of mineral and natural resources; the right to quality education; peace and human rights – remain vital ones.
‘They represent so much human suffering. Think of the wars in Syria and in Kivu, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Think of the millions on the move, searching for a better life because the world’s political and economic system has failed them totally. Think of the children without education who have to work from a young age. Think of people exploited in mines so that people in boardrooms and stock markets can make big profits.’
He said GIAN was set up to be a catalyst for change, and that those involved in advocacy needed to continue to find ways to work together.
‘Advocacy is not an easy task and the Society needs to improve the ways we do it’, he said. ‘I know that unless we are focused, specific and targeted, our advocacy will not work well.’