The WTO's Fifth Ministerial Meeting broke down on September 14; and Cancun passed into history as a site where protest was strongly made, if not duly heard. A delegation of Jesuits from the International Jesuit Network for Development (IJND) present at the meeting wrote, together with the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN), daily reports of what was happening. A communication signed by a number of bodies including IJND clearly rejected the official decisions when it declared 'Substantive changes vigorously proposed by the developing countries have been totally ignored. We reject the revised ministerial text.'
In July 2003 a group comprising Jesuits, other religious, and lay women and men met to discuss the theme 'Another development is possible, another integration is possible,' at a seminar organized by the Jesuit Social Apostolate in Latin America. The subject of critical scrutiny was a project for a free trade market area within the Americas, covering 34 countries with a total population of 800 million people. The imbalance in terms of technology, capital, and know-how between the North and the South, the lack of transparency in the negotiations, the total neglect of fundamental developmental aspects such as ecological impact, labor conditions, social plans and migration, and the fact that a facade of commercial liberalization masks intents of protectionism, all make it unacceptable to the poor. The task for Jesuits and their collaborators is now to help build a new, more united Latin America and to keep in sight a new ethical horizon.
When European Jesuits in Social Science (the Eurojess) met at the end of August in Dobogokoe, Budapest, they found that 44 Jesuits from 22 provinces had come to the meeting, all concerned with one issue: the elements that unite and divide Europe. A major point of interest was the role of religion in the new humanism needed for Europe.
Has Catholic social teaching taken account of changes sweeping through this globalized world? How relevant are the stands we take in these new contexts and have our horizons widened? To reflect on these questions and plan the publication of a collection of papers and case studies that might throw light on these matters, 26 people (of whom 15 were Jesuits and five were women) met at a three day international seminar organized by the Jesuit Faculty of Theology in the University of Toronto and the Jesuit Center for Faith and Justice in Guelph, Canada.
What stand should we as Jesuits take in new inter-religious, multicultural contexts where population growth surges ahead in some countries and drops dramatically in others? What is our ethical imperative, especially vis-a-vis Islam? To discuss some of these questions the Jesuit network International Population Concerns (IPC) organized a September colloquium in El Cairo in Egypt.
Fr. Stan D'Souza used UN data to show that a burgeoning young population in less developed nations faces danger from AIDS, to say nothing of educational and employment problems; and that developed countries with very low growth rates would have to deal with problems relating to pension provision schemes, a diminishing labor force, and health care for the elderly.
The colloquium was a joint venture of the Secretariats of Social Justice and Inter-religious Dialogue.
CERAS (Centre de Recherche et d'Action Sociale), the Paris-- based center for research and social action is a hundred years old, spanning the life of a movement called 'Action Populaire,' engaged with the workers' movement. Centenary celebrations began in mid-October by first looking back at the past and then forward to the future. They culminated in a panel discussion on "Justice and Christian Faith."
ALBOAN (Educacion y Voluntariado), the Institute of Human Rights Pedro Arrupe (Deusto University, Bilbao), and the Institute of Development and International Cooperation (Hegoa) are all involved in a common project called "Giza Garapena-Compartiendo Experiencias" (Sharing Experiences). The goal of the project is to learn from experiences of development and to arrive at a proper methodology for their analysis.
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