In a little over a year, in November 2020, the Society of Jesus will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) by Father Pedro Arrupe sj, then Jesuit General. The opportunity for the current General, Father Arturo Sosa sj, to affirm JRS' renewed commitment through a letter he has just sent to the entire Society of Jesus and to those who collaborate in the mission.
Arturo Sosa sj, the current Father General, confirms the importance of JRS for the Society. This international service, which is essential for many migrants, responds in every respect to the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) which it defined and announced in February 2019 and to which the Jesuits will focus in their missions for the next ten years. This is also the case for Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL), which is present in Geneva as is JRS. JWL is a Jesuit organization supported by the Provinces of Switzerland, Germany and Austria that provides equitable and quality higher education to people and communities on the margins of society around the world.
A challenge of all times
In his 1980 letter announcing the launch of JRS, Fr. Arrupe said that the situation of refugees throughout the world presented "a challenge to the Society that we cannot ignore if we wish to be faithful to the criteria that St. Ignatius gave for the choice of our apostolates". This is still the case today. "JRS' response to this acute problem was a source of grace for the refugees and for the Society," rejoices Father Sosa sj, who has just announced "the important changes that will allow JRS to continue and deepen this response in the years to come.
We propose below the entire letter of Father General:
Here is the beginning of it: -
Renewed commitment of the Jesuit Refugee Service
TO THE WHOLE COMPANY OF JESUS
AND TO THOSE WHO COLLABORATE IN THE MISSION
"In November 2020, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) by the Servant of God, Father Pedro Arrupe. (...) I am pleased to inform you of the important changes that will allow JRS to continue and deepen this response in the coming years.
"This challenge felt by Father Arrupe has even worsened over the years. The United Nations Refugee Agency reported last year that 68.5 million people were forced to leave their homes, the highest number ever recorded. 25.4 million of them fled their country to find security and protection beyond international borders. Most refugees come from the world's least developed countries and the vast majority of refugees are hosted by neighbouring developing nations. Refugees are increasingly finding themselves in situations of protracted displacement: 13.4 million refugees today have been in exile for 5 to 37 years."
"This reality calls for a more equitable sharing of the reception and support of refugees around the world. On the contrary, some governments in the rich countries of the North have put in place policies to keep refugees at bay, policies that are increasingly being copied by developing countries themselves. It is well known that there are many political movements that fuel resentment against refugees for electoral purposes. In a global situation where refugees are in dire need of hospitality and generosity, they often face further marginalization and even violence. Instead of increasing resettlement opportunities for refugees in need of a permanent place of residence, we are seeing a drastic decrease in resettlement worldwide, almost halved compared to previous years..."
"In these difficult times, JRS has found new inspiration for its mission to accompany, serve and defend refugees in the prophetic leadership of Pope Francis, who called on the international community to respond in a common way to the issue of refugees and migrants (...)"
Some useful links
JRS international: https://jrs.net
JRS Europe: https://jrseurope.org
JWL International: https://www.jwl.org/en/home
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