Issue No 1; Introduction; 29 August 2017
A Secular Franciscan JPIC Newsletter from Franciscan Voice Canada
Editors: Andrew Conradi, ofs, OFS Canada Director of JPIC; George Guimond, ofs, Vice Minister, Atlantic Area
& Margaret Ross, ofs, Minister, St Agnes Emerging Fraternity, Coquitlam, BC
“Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good.” (Laudato Si’, 157)
A JUSTICE, PEACE & INTEGRITY OF CREATION (JPIC) NEWSLETTER
1. OFS members are called to be advocates in issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). We are asked to take action, whether it be through words or deeds, to ensure justice for the poor, peace for the conflicted and care for creation.
2. The intent of this first issue of The Common Good, is to present its basic approach and modus operandi and to clearly outline the OFS position on speaking boldly (parrhesia) and on advocacy. We hope it can be an effective vehicle for sharing information and announcing opportunities for calls to action.
Basic approach and modus operandi of The Common Good
3. It will be a medium to reflect OFS members’ thoughts, opinions & questions. It will be a vehicle to share news from fraternities & individual members on their increasing awareness, thoughts, ongoing discussions & actions in the field of JPIC.
4. OFS members deserve and should expect a respectful hearing of their voices. We are all co-responsible and we solicit your input on topics of interest to you and your fraternities. Please share news of what you or members of your fraternity have become aware, thought, & done in the field of JPIC. We all have so much to learn from each other as well as from all people of good will. What topics do you/they wish to learn more about?
5. As editors we will not make unilateral decisions about content and we doubt censorship will ever be necessary; we will have a very light touch. If we feel a point made by a contributor needs clarification, rather than edit it, we will add an editor’s note in parentheses. If necessary we will discuss it first with the author directly and only edit it if it is absolutely necessary i.e. is contrary to Catholic Social Doctrine.
6. The Common Good assumes that the OFS or interested enquirers are not so frightened of JPIC to want it glossed over or avoided. To leave out such important dimensions of our Rule and life and ignore bold mention of JPIC & advocacy is to hobble us and, some may think, dilutes our spirituality. Parrhesia (to speak boldly) and advocacy are definitely declared OFS policies (see below under OFS Approach to JPIC).
7. Difficult, though it may be sometimes for some, all need, and most want, to understand JPIC because it is part of our Rule, General Constitutions and conclusions of the 2011 OFS General Chapter. Those professed may need reminding of this in ongoing formation. Candidates and enquirers need to be made aware of it in their initial formation. Most of us want to know what we can do about injustice and environmental problems to promote the common good and protect our common home.
8. JPIC at times is certainly controversial but debate and differences of opinion are healthy and to be expected and as Franciscans we can listen courteously and with respect to others’ opinions. Nobody should be afraid to say what they think as Pope Francis made clear to the Bishops at their 2014 Synod: “Let no one say: “I cannot say this, they will think this or this of me” … It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels.”
9. We feel those interested who are first encountering the Franciscan way need to know this right from the start especially in light of Laudato Si’ which has been called the most Franciscan encyclical. Much in it is a re-emphasis and re-statement and not new. It is an update going further than its predecessors into new issues plus its language is more understandable to most laity and non- Christians. Since our formation sources all precede Laudato Si’ professed members need to integrate its message of the inter-connectedness of JPIC into all possible OFS meetings and communications media. Thus JPIC and advocacy have to be seen to be an essential ongoing dimension of, and deeply integrated into, how we live the Rule i.e. our spirituality.
10. Your Editors will, in staying true to the authority that the OFS has given us with regards to JPIC, help produce this newsletter to facilitate your increasing knowledge and ability to advocate. JPIC has been Andrew’s passion for 20 years and he has studied and taught it with both the OFM & OFS. He studied JPIC at the OFM Antonianum University in Rome and has taught OFM postulants & novices in Canada & the USA. He was an official representative of the OFM English Speaking Union at the JPIC Americas Continental Meeting in Colombia in 2014 and an OFS member of the Franciscan Family’s Romans VI delegation to the World Social Forum in Montréal in 2016. George, a founder of Franciscan Voice Canada, is knowledgeable and very active in JPIC. Margaret, a former local fraternity minister and presently minister of an emerging fraternity, has long been interested and active in JPIC and has editorial experience. A brief outline of the authority for parrhesia and advocacy follows.
OFS Approach to JPIC
11. 1220’s (exact date unknown) It started for Franciscans with St Francis of Assisi’s Letter to the Rulers of the People. Although it was not about politics or social justice (a term first used by a Jesuit in the 1830’s), but about the Eucharist, perhaps our tradition of political advocacy and speaking to power can be said to have started then.
12. 2011. Among the conclusions of the XIII General Chapter of the OFS in 2011 were:
“Franciscans must be agents of social transformation.” (n.1.1) and “Since "the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in ‘politics’" (Christifideles Laici, 42), it is necessary to underline the importance of political education for citizen advocacy, based on the social doctrine of the Church. This Chapter urges OFS Councils, at all levels, to organize regular political education classes that will help members to acquire the skills necessary to respond without delay to what the church asks of us at this time.” (n. 40) [emphasis added].
13. 2012. A National Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Action Plan, an Orientation accepted by the National Council, 24 May 2012 and affirmed by the National Chapter of Elections, 27 May 2012, in Châteauguay, Québec, included, to quote just two paragraphs:
"1.1. The basis of Franciscan justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC) concern and action is the Bible, Catholic Social Doctrine/Teaching, Franciscan Tradition and Spirituality, the OFS Rule and General Constitutions, reading the “signs of the times” and the Catholic Action model of “See, Judge, Act.” …
2.3. Parrhesia means to speak clearly and boldly without fear or hesitation. Benedetto Lino, ofs, (a CIOFS Presidency Councillor) wrote this about parrhesia recently: “Today, more than ever, we should ask the Lord for the grace of parrhesia, for each one of us, for the whole SFO [sic] and for our churches.” [emphasis added] [The Catechism of the Catholic church characterizes parrhesia in these words “straightforward simplicity, humble boldness” (CCC 2778).]
The Plan asked us to focus on these 10 issues:
- Extreme poverty and the excluded
- The ethical use of resources: especially water, mining and fair trade
- Food: security and sovereignty
- Human Trafficking and Contemporary Forms of Slavery
- Care of Creation: particularly one or more of the following: Pollution; Climate Change; the Alberta Oil Sands and/or Hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
- Peace, conflict resolution and active non-violence
- Treatment of Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants
- Solidarity with, and support for, Christians in countries threatened by hostile cultures
- Current issues regarding Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
- Other topics at the discretion of the fraternities.
14. 2015. Laudato Si’ issued by Pope Francis in 2015, and called the most Franciscan encyclical, has given us a new basis for working for the common good & JPIC.
15. 2017. It will be proposed at the OFS General Chapter in November 2017 that a permanent International Secretariat for JPIC be created within the OFS to
• coordinate JPIC activities within the OFS, and working closely with other JPIC
organizations within the Franciscan Family; e.g. the Inter-Franciscan
Commission for Justice and Peace (Romans VI) and Franciscans International
• monitor international issues of particular interest to the OFS and providing responses
to these international issues; examples could include issues around refugees and
immigrants, wars and conflicts, and environment and climate change (with over 300,000
members worldwide, the OFS has the possibility of exerting significant leverage to
advocate for justice, peace and integrity of creation) [emphasis added];
• initiate JPIC projects in which all members of the OFS could participate, thereby
linking the work of the OFS world-wide; combating illiteracy among vulnerable
populations including women and children in rural areas could be one of the
organization’s outreach priorities; and
• act as a focal point for the OFS during natural disasters and coordinating disaster
assistance with the appropriate agencies, directed to both Secular Franciscan and others
in the affected areas.
Format of this newsletter
16. We think a format of articles about 200-400 words (with or without pictures) and links for further reading and possible action is a good one. Some articles could be longer if the contributing author thinks it is necessary. It could also include attached powerpoints to show at fraternity meetings or for individual viewing. Do you agree? Should we continue that? How often would you like to see The Common Good? If a particular unexpected event occurs that needs to be publicized a special issue can be sent.
We want your feedback.
We hope issue no 2 will follow soon and will feature The Season of Creation (1 Sept - 4 Oct).
In closing: “Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban.” (Laudato Si’, 232)
Peace & all good,