Jesuit social apostolate: Rising to challenges

At a first-time-ever meeting in Rome from 7-11 April, twelve Jesuit social sector co-ordinators from all ten Assistancies (groups of Provinces) got together to discuss responses to the new challenges confronting the social apostolate. Have we noticed the growing number of marginalised people? The plethora of migrants? Increasing violence and war, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Colombia? The networks created by social movements? The deteriorating environment and the crying need for good governance and democratic participation? These central issues were seen to transcend local, even national, levels and to call for co-operation between Jesuit institutions and centres world-wide. Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach SJ, poignantly recalled the world?s neglected people, and asked for clear choices and priorities, indicating that Jesuits committed to the promotion of justice should be immersed in the life of the poor through ?insertion? in the places where they live. One serious cause for concern was that the number of Jesuits working fulltime in the social apostolate is decreasing (they are globally 5-10 percent); another was that collaboration with other ministries is weakening. The overall consensus underlined the urgent need to accompany, in truly effective ways, the poor in their struggle for dignity.