The Society of Jesus, especially through the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), strives to respond to the call of General Congregation 35 (2008) to “establish advocacy links of mutual support between those who hold political power and those who find it difficult to voice their interests… setting up these bridges, offering us new ways of understanding in depth the mechanism” and the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN) are challenged to respond.
Drawing on the experiences of the four GIANs – migration, governance of natural and mineral resources, ecology, and right to education – the SJES is convening an international meeting entitled Networking for Justice from 16 to 20 November 2015 in Loyola, Spain that will bring together the GIAN core groups and other international networks of the Society such as representatives from Xavier Network with its Jesuit Missions and other development NGOs, International Federation of Fe y Alegría, and the Social Justice Delegates of all Apostolic Conferences of the Society of Jesus.
This international gathering intends to evaluate to what extent networking in the Society of Jesus has favored the fulfillment of its mission in the struggle for justice. It also aims to identify and communicate the main lessons learned and to propose concrete measures to further enhance this way of working. The meeting is part of a major commitment to promote global networking as a means to promote social justice.
Through this meeting, it is hoped that the reach of the Networking for Justice meeting is broadened and strengthened and serve as a space to share key messages, resources, and outcomes. This is why communication is essential and we should be able to explore ways to help move and communicate the evolution of the Society of Jesus in recent years through networking.
Based on words of the Society’s 35th General Congregation (GC), which recognize that the Society of Jesus should work as a Universal Body with the same mission, the new technologies can become “powerful instruments for building and supporting international networks.” We aim to share and empower the capacities of everyone to consolidate our efforts, fully exploiting all channels that technology can offer. This allows us to deal with challenges that are global in sharing a vision. On the one hand, it allows us to focus on matters concerning internationalization yet keeping a local perspective and, on the other hand, it allows us to develop collaborative skills that must overcome cultural barriers.
This Loyola meeting offers GIAN an excellent opportunity to do a pitstop in its journey and analyze the achievements and the obvious limitations of our work. The years have made us less naïve about the possibilities of networking, but also more realistic about the transformative capacity and the ability to establish links that can achieve a well-coordinated work with defined goals and necessary resources.
Networks are not magic solutions. They need efforts, new skills and abilities, and they are certainly the most effective way to internationally recognize our local efforts. Networks allow us to continue doing our work in a renewed way and share it with those who are physically far away but with whom we share a mission. The assessments we make in Loyola will have to help us define the activities in the coming years. Therefore, this is an important opportunity.
GC35 also reflects the curricular emphasis on the social impact of technology, recommending that new communication technologies are put at the service of education and of those at the margins. That is why the meeting in Loyola seeks to widely communicate the discussions, provided by the communication managers of the organizations participating at the event. We look forward to the support of social media, a great ally in such times and other communication channels such as Ecojesuit.
Therefore, communication is an important aspect of our meeting. Participants involved in these networks will have to be prepared for short interviews. It is very important to add extra resources to connect networks. We must promote a flow of real communication, not to reduce it to an e-mail chain in English, representing the “dominant” culture that could disregard intrinsic cultural aspects of local communities. Again social networks have a key role to play. Basically it is about recognizing the importance of local commitment, their cultures and traditions, and how this wealth can be connected with technologies to promote greater equity.
For regular updates on the Loyola meeting, the Networking for Justice website was recently launched and there will also be online dispatches of information before, during, and after the meeting. For those interested in the Jesuit global networking taking place, there is the option to subscribe to the newsletter subscription for timely updates. Networking for Justice can also be accessed through Facebook and Twitter.