Archive for April, 2010

Jesuit Father General Visits Haiti

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Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas, right, visits the JRS Haiti tent offices in Port au Prince with Jesuit Fr. Wismith Lazard of JRS Haiti, left. Between the two men are Jesuit Fr. Kawas Francois, in white shirt, and Jesuit Fr. Daniel Leblond. Fr. Francois is president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action, and Fr. LeBlond is the Provincial of French Canada. (Photo courtesy JRS/USA)

Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas, right, visits the JRS Haiti tent offices in Port au Prince with Jesuit Fr. Wismith Lazard of JRS Haiti, left. Between the two men are Jesuit Fr. Kawas Francois, in white shirt, and Jesuit Fr. Daniel Leblond. Fr. Francois is president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action, and Fr. LeBlond is the Provincial of French Canada. (Photo courtesy JRS/USA)

Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas visited the Haitian capital Thursday to see the work Jesuits have been doing to as they accompany and serve the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating January 12 earthquake.

Fr. Nicolas, the leader of the Society of Jesus, visited the Jesuit novitiate in the Tabarre neighborhood of Port au Prince, where he met with staff of Jesuit Refugee Service Haiti and Fe y Alegria. Both organizations have set up offices in tents on the novitiate grounds, and staff and volunteers are also living in tents on the grounds.

For many years Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has had a grassroots presence in Haiti and has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced Haitians in both the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. In addition, JRS has responded to the needs of Haitians following successive natural disasters, a food crisis, and repeated hurricanes.

While continuing to maintain its presence along the Northeastern border, JRS Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital. After visiting with staff and holding Mass, Fr. Nicolas met with and thanked JRS staff at the Automeca camp for people displaced by the earthquake in Port au Prince.

Jesuit Reflects on Impact of Globalization in Africa

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The Center of Concern hosted Jesuit Father Peter Henriot at the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. last week, where he reflected on the convergence in global crises and the transformation necessary for the world to recover and flourish.

“One of the important signs of the times is the cultural crisis experienced in so many different forms across the globe,” commented Fr. Henriot. “Culture is of course a major contributor to identity and uniqueness, community and solidarity, empowerment and future-building. When culture is endangered at its richest roots, then all of society suffers.”

With deep roots in the U.S. faith-based social justice movement and the experience garnered over another 20 years in Zambia, Fr. Henriot spoke about what is being called for in spirit, in truth and in action for response to the global crises as they affect vulnerable peoples everywhere.

While only in the U.S. for a brief time, Fr. Henriot took full advantage of the opportunity to spread his message of peace and justice in Africa and elsewhere. In addition to his talk at the WTU, Fr. Henriot spoke at Creighton Univeristy on “Why is Africa important for the U.S. at this time?” and at the Africa Faith and Justice Network’s annual meeting, presenting the keynote address: “Africa and Justice: Justice IN and FOR Africa.”

For full video on Fr. Henriot’s talk at Creighton, please click here.

For text of Fr. Henriot’s keynote address at the AFJN’s annual meeting, please click here.

Jesuit Trains for 5,000-mile Bike Trek to Raise Awareness of Poverty

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Priests aren’t exactly known to represent the bike community, but that doesn’t meant they don’t hit the pavement on two wheels once in a while.

Jesuit Father Matt Ruhl, pastor of St.  Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City, Mo., is about to embark on a 5,000-mile ride in order to raise awareness for poverty-related issues. Ruhl plans to embark on Memorial Day from Cape Flattery, Wash., with 12 other riders, wrapping up on Labor Day in Key West, Fla. Ruhl’s journey by bike will take him through various stops, including an Indian Reservation, a prison and a recovering area of New Orleans. The focus of the trip is to highlight poverty problems and to raise money for programs that benefit the poor.

For the full article, please click here.  You can watch Fr. Ruhl’s interview with KMBC-TV on his planned ride below.

Jesuit Refugee Service Working to Improve Camps, Provide Education in Haiti

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Two of the leading Jesuits involved in Haitian earthquake relief efforts visited Washington last week to meet with members of non-governmental organizations, Congressional staff and State Department personnel: Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J., president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action and Fr. Wismith Lazard, S.J., director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti.

“The situation in Haiti is very difficult now. Before the earthquake, the situation was bad. Now, the situation is worse. We have a lot of unemployment, that’s a real problem. Many children can’t go to school, because so many schools collapsed in the earthquake-affected areas,” said Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J.

The Jesuit community in Haiti organized the National Committee for Reflection and Action (Cellule de Refexion et d’Action Nationale  – CRAN), composed of Jesuits and members of Haitian civil society who work together on an ongoing basis to accompany the Haitian people, their leaders, and the international community in their efforts to rebuild Haiti.

More than 80% of the population in the earthquake affected areas still live in camps. The situation is characterized by extremely high rates of unemployment and poor sanitation in the camps.

While continuing to maintain its presence along the Northeastern border, JRS Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital.

For more information on Jesuit Refugee Service’s work in Haiti, or how you can help, please visit: http://www.jrsusa.org

Jesuits Respond to New Chevron Human Rights Policy

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Jesuits are encouraged by last night’s first public release of Chevron Corporation’s new Policy 520 on human rights. This breakthrough follows six years of shareholder dialog with one of the world’s largest energy and oil companies. As a result of this announcement, a coalition of Jesuit groups and other religious congregations are withdrawing a 2010 shareholder resolution petitioning the development of a corporate human rights policy.

“We very much appreciate the commitment Chevron has demonstrated in staying with this dialogue over the past six years of engagement,” said Jesuit Father G. Thomas Krettek, Provincial for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus, the lead filer for the shareholder resolution. “We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with Chevron regarding implementation, monitoring, reporting, and incentivizing the policy, as well as identifying potential areas where Policy 520 might be strengthened.”

Jesuit affiliated members of the coalition include:  the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus, Creighton University and Loyola University Chicago, among others. Since 2004, this coalition has presented a shareholder resolution and held regular dialogues regarding the need to develop a transparent, verifiable and comprehensive human rights policy. At the 2009 annual meeting, more than 357 million shares of Chevron stock voted in favor of establishing such a policy and the resolution has currently drawn the support of 42 institutional investors. The Jesuits hope adoption of this new human rights policy indicates Chevron’s awareness of their social footprint and their potential as a force for integral human development, as well as protection and promotion of human rights in the extractive sector. They anticipate future and ongoing dialogue with Chevron regarding policy deployment and transparent monitoring of the policy. Furthermore, the Jesuit-led coalition encourages Chevron to have more explicit community engagements, management directives and a widening mandate to honor the human rights protections by suppliers and security contractors.

You can read more about the Jesuit’s response to Chevron’s new policy on human rights by clicking here.