The 2018 projects of the Custody’s JPIC Commission

With the last chapter in September 2016, the Custody of the Holy Land appointed a new head of the Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation: Br. Giorgio Vigna. From that moment on, the work of the commission that is dedicated to promoting initiatives within these fields has been moving forward with new momentum and new projects.

“My first act was to create a task force on these issues, in which each person acts as a liaison with the various areas,” explained, Br. Giorgio, who is in charge if the commission. “One of the first missions was also writing an annual program for the commission.”
The projects are currently part of three different areas: peace, education, ecological education and the spreading of Laudato si’. Out of seven initiatives, some have already been implemented and others will be implemented in 2018.

Among the projects that have already concluded, there is one that the Director of the General Office of the JPIC Commission of the Order of Friars Minor, Br. Jaime Campos, really wants to see. “We consider it simply beautiful and a good sign that from Bethlehem, on the occasion of Christmas, a brotherly greeting is sent out to the world, which also becomes a call to geographically ‘focus’ on the birth of Jesus”: this is the intent of the commission. A greeting video was thus made and broadcast through various channels.

Moreover, in order to reflect together on the encyclical Laudato si’, a day of formation in November was suggested for the friars of the Custody (pastors, school directors, guardians).

The need to raise awareness in local society about Pope Francis’ encyclical has led Br. Giorgio to organize a major event to be held on March 12, so as to present Laudato si’ to members of the Israeli and Arab societies. Among the speakers were Cardinal Peter Turkson, Rabbi David Rosen, Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi and Prof. Stefano Zamagni.

The Custody’s JPIC Commission’s awareness campaign also is intended to reach schools and parishes. “We will soon be going to the Terra Santa School in Jericho and to the one in Ramleh, and we have already begun at the Terra Santa School in Bethlehem,” explained Br. Giorgio. Last December, in fact, the head of the Custodial Commission held a meeting with the faculty, to introduce them to these issues and to ask that they be translated by the teachers into individualized, targeted initiatives for children. “The purpose of this presentation was to motivate,” said the head of the Justice and Peace Commission. “It is a question of motivating children civilly, civically and religiously. We want to educate them to ‘care for our shared home’ and our shared home is the street, the square, the garden, their own home.” Secondly, each teacher will be able to decide which initiatives to carry out in order to get those messages across to the students. After each project, a time for assessment will be scheduled.

But why should we take an interest in these issues? “The values of justice, peace and the preservation of the common home are Gospel values, which are particularly emphasized by Franciscan spirituality,” said Br. Giorgio. “Justice is a question related to the survival of society and is an essential premise for peace.”
Br. Giorgio said he was amazed that the Custody was already aware of these issues. “There are initiatives in place that I did not suspect. For example, the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land have impressed me with everything that they do for the migrants in Cyprus,” said Br. Giorgio. “The same is true in Rhodes, where with everything that the friars do, they show that they care for the environment, such as with regards to water use.”
As head of the Custody’s Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, Br. Giorgio will slowly discover all of the projects that are in progress and he will give rise to new ones. “An encouraging aspect is that the friars are open to learning and ready to collaborate,” concluded the head of the JPIC.

Beatrice Guarrera

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