JPIC Mission: Systemic Transformation for the Common Good of all Creation
The title of my reflection embodies a question to be asked after a training session on systemic transformation. From 22-26 January 2024, the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Rome (JPIC Roma), organized an online training for new JPIC Promotors. It was under the theme JPIC Mission: Systemic Transformation for the Common Good of all Creation. The mentioned online capacity-building workshop brought together religious men and women from all continents. Various topics such as “The need for systemic transformation in today’s world”; “A biblical foundation of social transformation: prophetic responses”; “Gender and social justice as strategies for systemic transformation”; “Integral Ecology and the urgency of an ecological conversion: environmental rights”; “Economic justice as a priority for the Global South”, “The United Nations and Human Rights systems, and participations of Religious”; etc., were discussed. Various contributors enlightened the participants.
The Missionaries of Africa were not left out. In addition to being part of the organizing committee, they also shared their knowledge and convictions with the participants. Guy Theunis brought in a Biblical Foundation of Social Transformation, Elvis Ng’andwe shared about the Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights and Prosper Harelimana talked about Gender issues and social justice. About 23 Missionaries of Africa, particularly involved in the ministry of Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation, Encounter and Dialogue (JPIC-ED) in Asia, America, Africa and Europe participated in the training. Their well-reasoned-out thoughts and contributions enriched both the speakers and the participants.
Is Systemic Transformation feasible? Working for systemic change while the rich nations maintain the monopoly of the global economy, political power and influence is difficult. Nonetheless, it is possible. First, by empowering the people at the grassroots level. People need quality education which will boost their confidence to use well the available local resources. Second, by urging political leaders “to walk the talk”. It is not enough to be vested with power and authority. Politics should be at the service of the common good. Third, as religious, missionaries and evangelizers, we should dare to challenge the “status quo”. The world we live in is no longer monopolar; it is multipolar. We need to understand the systems that govern it. Hence, our evangelizing mission needs to update itself by reading ‘the signs of the times’. In this way, we will be able “[…] to provide a response to new problems and to react with global mechanisms to the environmental, public health, cultural and social challenges, especially in order to consolidate respect for the most elementary human rights, social rights and the protection of our common home.” (Laudate Deum, 42).
What next? The last session of the JPIC Roma workshop focused on the way forward. Each participant was asked to identify one or two social problems and generate a plan to address them, based on the 7 Laudato Si’ Goals. The presentation of JPIC plans, inspired by the Congregation’s charism will be held on March 11 and 12, 2024.
It is worth noting that the JPIC Roma Commission belongs to the Union of Superiors General (USG) and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). In the light of the Gospel, it aims at transforming the world. Furthermore, it promotes justice, peace and care for the integrity of creation.
The Missionaries of Africa do not claim expertise in the matters of justice, peace and integrity of creation. However, the history of our Society shows that our contribution towards systemic transformation is far from being underestimated. Most of us are doing tremendous missionary work at the grassroots: family, Christian community, parish and diocesan levels. The just-ended workshop adds value to our transformative ministry of Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation, Encounter and Dialogue (JPIC-ED). We are resolved to continue the good work that the Spirit of the Lord started in us. We wholeheartedly want to promote Lavigerie’s legacy of upholding human dignity.
By Prosper Harelimana (M.Afr.)