Report to the General Minister and Council on the Meetings of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Commission Padre Pio Spirituality Center Pretoria, South Africa 23-29 October, 2014The Capuchin JPIC Commission Meeting with General Minister
The Minister General, Br. Mauro Jöhri, then met with the Director of JPIC, members of the JPIC Commission and the friars engaged in this work in Africa to specifically discuss our Capuchin JPIC efforts. We briefly reviewed the strategic plan for the current sexennium and received an update on the survey of social projects of the Order that was conducted earlier this year.
Br. Jim Donegan reported that the JPIC Commission received 106 responses to the survey. It was acknowledged that this was a small sample of the many social projects and that we need to find a way to share the results of the survey with the friars and to allow them to continue to contribute information, e.g. by posting them on the General Curia/JPIC website. Br. Mauro suggested that results from the survey would be particularly relevant to PCO VIII, on the grace of working. He also noted that the General Council, Economo and the Economic Solidarity have recommended that the JPIC Commission needs to be more involved in the process of seeking grants for social projects from Economic Solidarity and to work with the international funding agencies.
In his remarks to the assembled friars, Br. Mauro revisited some of the JPIC Commission’s work in recent years, including the meetings on migration in Bangkok, Krakow and Lima in 2011. The most successful of these meetings was for the Americas, because the issue was very immediate to the brothers there and they were very engaged.
Br. Mauro observed that African friars are taking charge of many social projects; but he also mentioned several concerns that had been raised by recent visitations: the need to better integrate JPIC into our formation; tribalism within the Order; funding for projects must go to the projects; and money received by a brother is not for him alone but for the fraternity.
Many circumscriptions, Br. Mauro mentioned, do not have a JPIC Commission, and if there are brothers working in this area, some of the work is not very well transmitted to concrete action. The Order’s JPIC Director and Commission and their work suffer from a lack of support from the circumscriptions and conferences. What can we do to develop JPIC in the many parts of the world that do not yet have the necessary JPIC infrastructure?
The Order has organized a number of JPIC conferences over the years, but it is hard to determine what the effects have been beyond the production of documents. In planning these conferences, we need to focus on concrete follow-up and the integration of their work in the life of fraternities throughout the world. It is not enough to publish and show our brothers what we are doing. We need to build upon it. The three general ministers of the OFM, OFM Cap. and OFM Conv. have noted a certain malaise in the JPIC work and a lack of collaboration.
Br. Mauro then invited the friars to consider several questions: Do we need to develop a single JPIC Office and Commission for the Franciscan Family? Should there be a JPIC theme for Africa? Can the work of JPIC and DPI be better integrated? Friars then broke into three language groups (English, Portuguese and French) to reflect on these issues.
In their responses, the brothers made several observations based on their experiences. These included:
When friars are assigned to do JPIC work, it is important to discern whether they are qualified, motivated and truly available for it.
Much JPIC work is with people and transforming lives; and it is less attractive or concrete than social work or direct services to the poor.
We need to acknowledge the complexities of Africa and see that some issues are as urgent in some countries as in others.
The animation and advocacy of JPIC need to be better integrated in our circumscriptions with our social works—education, work with the homeless, healthcare, etc.
Two areas that are weak in Africa are collaboration and communication. We can learn much from each other.
Tribalism and ethnic tensions are big problems in many parts of Africa; but sometimes they are exaggerated.
Migration in Europe and America plays out a little differently than in Africa. For example, in many countries in Africa migration is caused by war and other forms of conflict. In Europe and America, by contrast, migration is more often economically motivated.
For brothers to be effective in JPIC work, they need to have passion for it. A provincial or custos cannot appoint just any friar to do it.
In doing our JPIC work, we need to have a better knowledge of how our various systems of local, national and international laws work.
Collaboration is essential to effective JPIC work. This includes sending brothers outside of our circumscriptions to others in the Order.