Latin America: Education for a new political consciousness and practice
Following on a suggestion by Provincial Coordinators from Latin America and the Caribbean, about 55 Jesuits and lay partners from various social centres and Jesuit Universities gathered at Asuncion, Paraguay from the 12th to the 14th of September to reflect on a proposal containing draft guidelines for a course called Formacion Politica y Ciudadana [Formation in Politics and Citizenship]. This effort is an honest attempt to respond to the crises in the region involving the public sphere, politics and the State. The general opinion was that the course is rooted in the utopian vision of making an alternative political world possible in Latin America and the Caribbean. Reflection began with a serious analysis of the 5 themes proposed by a preparatory group that had met in Caracas in June 2006.
The themes were the following: (i) A crisis of political and social institutions manifest in the weakening of the State, political parties and in a general loss of credibility. (ii) A crisis in the realm of the 'public' manifested by an increasing social fragmentation, corruption, violence, impunity and lack of interest in politics among the youth. (iii) An increase of unwelcome practices such as exclusion, threats to free expression, and the high jacking of public goods and services for private gain. (iv) A crisis in the model of development that has generated more poverty, inequality, dependence, unemployment and the growth of an 'informal' sector. (v) Difficulties in building pluri-cultural and pluri-ethnic societies. The proposal has been widely accepted and may herald the beginning of an initiative that respects the local and incorporates more universal components.
For more information see Jorge Julio Mejia

Zambia, Canada, Australia: Ecology and Jesuit contributions

The following contributions describe three different ecology-related initiatives carried out by Jesuit social centres in three different regions of the world, as told to Headlines by their respective collaborators.
Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Zambia continues to promote sustainable agriculture and care for the environment in its various activities for, and with, small-scale farmers. One project KATC has been developing recently is a good example of the close link between social justice and eco-justice in sustainable agriculture. For three years KATC has been growing organic cotton, helping small-scale farmers to grow cotton organically, and sourcing markets for the product. Cotton grown through conventional methods uses more pesticides than any other crop, and these pesticides not only cause serious health problems for the farm workers but also upset the natural balance in the environment. At KATC we manage cotton pests by interplanting with the cotton a variety of other plants that either repel or trap the pests.
Farmers growing cotton organically are able to make more profit than those who grow it conventionally not only because buyers pay a premium for organic cotton but also because the organic farmer does not have to buy expensive inputs like pesticides or genetically engineered seeds.
«Roland Lesseps SJ,»

The Ecology Project of the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice is located on a 600 acre organic farm near Guelph in southern Ontario, Canada. Our staff includes Jim Profit, SJ, Co-ordinator, Marianne Karsh, Environmental Education Co-ordinator and John McCarthy,SJ, Research Associate. We receive support from a part-time administrative assistant, bookkeeper and development officer. Our main areas of focus include Spiritual Exercises and ecological spirituality, environmental education, sustainable agriculture and food security issues, Catholic social teaching and ecology, boreal forest conservation and sustainable management, and issues related to climate change and water. Our principal activities include, among others, an 8-day ecological retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises, other retreats, speaking engagements and writing. Principal projects include boreal forest land-use planning, a series of eco-spiritual retreats, the preparation of a book on peoples' spiritual experience of the land, and a second book on the ecological social teaching of the Catholic Church.
«John McCarthy SJ,»

The work of Uniya, an Australian Jesuit Social Justice Centre, is based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, one of the basic principles of which is "care for creation." Recognising the interdependence of human life with the natural world, we have made living in a sustainable nation part of our vision. Without denying the seriousness of other environmental problems we recently decided, given the rapidly mounting evidence of the serious and potentially catastrophic impact on human communities of climate change and the probability of that impact being hardest on the poor, to make the social impacts of climate change in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific one of our projects. So far we have written a short article for Eureka Street ( and joined the Climate Action Network Australia (along with several other Australian Church groups).
We are hoping to take a leading role in a comprehensive study of the current impacts of climate change in Southeast Asia and the Pacific over 2006. The study will take account not of only the creation of climate refugees (due to rising sea levels) on Pacific nations but also the impacts on fishing and farming communities and densely populated low-lying cities. It is intended both to increase pressure on the Australian and US governments to take positive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to explore how communities in our region can best adapt to the current and likely effects of climate change.
«Mark Byrne,»
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