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Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
Jesuits News Social Justice JSN has an audience with the Pope on the 20th anniversary of its foundation
Social Justice

JSN has an audience with the Pope on the 20th anniversary of its foundation

On Monday 25 March, in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis received a delegation from all the member organisations of the Jesuit Social Network, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its foundation in 2004 through the initiative of four Works of the Society of Jesus: Villa S. Ignazio Foundation of Trent, Centro Astalli of Rome, Aquas Formation Organisation of Naples and Emmanuel Community of Lecce.

In her opening speech, the President Paola Piazzi recalled how the network had grown from a small initial nucleus to include some forty organisations working in eight areas of social action: immigrants/refugees – minors – families in difficulty – prisoners – social hardship – urban marginalisation – international collaboration- formation.

She then recalled the theme that will accompany the reflections throughout this year: “Initiators of a new future for ourselves and for others”, referring to the two ways in which the JSN is committed to supporting the most vulnerable:

  • the care of creation in all its dimensions
  • the overcoming of all conflicts between peoples

themes also cherished by Pope Francis.

Finally, two gifts were presented to the Pope:

One, entitled “Interdependent”, represents an iron figure stretching out its arm to lift another (both figures are made of ferle, nails very similar to those with which Jesus was crucified);

The other depicts a hand with fingers outstretched in the hope of a saved humanity.

The president emphasised that in both, the hand is the protagonist, as the concrete instrument with which the JSN network organisations seek to help and support the people they welcome, but also as the image, as the Pope puts it, of God’s tender and merciful caress.

In his welcoming address, Pope Francis stressed the importance of caressing the fears of others, especially migrants and the most vulnerable, in order to give them security. He then recalled four actions: welcoming, accompanying, promoting, and integrating, summarised in the gesture of caressing. He concluded his greeting by saying that only by extending our hand to lift up the other can we look from above to below.

At the end of the audience, there was a brief meeting with Card. Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. The task of his Dicastery, he said, is to identify and promote the overcoming of obstacles to integral human development, obstacles that vary from territory to territory and do not only affect the poorest sectors of the population. Asked what he considered to be the most urgent challenges, he replied that there is no single answer, but many that come from a constant and profound attitude of listening to people’s needs.

The Provincial of the EUM, Fr Roberto Del Riccio, was also present at the audience.

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