Do Jesuits and their collaborators have something to say and do about ecology? Apparently they do. In fact, in 2008, General Congregation 35 (GC 35), the most important deliberative body of the Society of Jesus, invited Jesuits and all works of the Society of Jesus around the world to consider the need for reconciliation with creation as part of our mission, and to engage in global initiatives able to heal our relationship with a socially, economically and environmentally wounded world (GC35, d.3, nn. 31-36).
This call from GC35 did not fall from heaven like a meteorite nor did it fall on deaf ears; it was the logical consequence of a long history of inculturation, of listening to the signs of the times and to the call to move to the frontiers, characteristic of the Jesuits since their foundation. The new global dimension of many of our contemporary issues—such as environmental degradation and the social problems associated with it—requires also a global approach of collaboration; a way of thinking and working together that have found concrete expressions in the last few years in a series of international networking initiatives.
In the area of education within the ecological sphere it is worth highlighting The International Jesuit Ecology Project, a collaborative effort between professors of Loyola University Chicago and a group of academics in secondary and tertiary Jesuit educational institutions from all over the world, who have come together to develop an Online Living Textbook that tackles various contemporary socio-environmental challenges from a scientific, moral and spiritual perspective.Ecojesuit is the digital platform of the Society in matters related to ecology, a hybrid forum for dialogue and advocacy.Along with this academic initiative, two other projects stand out: the emergence of a platform for communication and advocacy, the Ecojesuit portal, coordinated by the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) in Brussels (Belgium) and the Environmental Science for Social Change initiative in Manila (Philippines), together with a growing international network of volunteers and collaborators concerned about the issues. Ecojesuit is the digital platform of the Society in matters related to ecology, a hybrid forum for dialogue and advocacy, aimed at Jesuits, collaborators and friends to introduce developing projects, support local efforts and facilitate the emergence of new initiatives GIAN-Ecology.
Despite appearances, however, these two initiatives are not totally new, but rather a reflection of a long-standing way of working and dreaming the mission, a way of working that finds its roots in the origins of the church and of the Society of Jesus. A way of working that invites us to continue to insert ourselves into our local reality, but dream at the same time with our gaze set on the world.
This is a guest post written by Jaime Tatay, a spanish jesuit working in Zaragoza and member of the Ecojesuit network. Photo from by jimmyflickr in Flickr under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).