PAX CHRISTI USA:  Working for peace with justice

AUGUST 2013 -- GReen Mail

The Pax Christi USA Global Restoration Committee would like to share this information with you, our GReen mail activists.   We invite you to pray, study and act with us across the miles recognizing that a sustainable, healthy world is a more peaceful world for all creation.



Sunlight in water





"Let us accept the grace of Christ's Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. ...  Peace to this our Earth! May the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation."  

from Pope Francis' Easter message

March 31, 2013





For the Jesuits, local witness and global awareness are calling many individuals, and the Society of Jesus as a whole, to do new work on the front lines of the ecological crisis. 


This work looks very different at times

  • Fr. Amalraj helps communities in Myanmar to find housing and restore their livelihoods after cyclones, 
  • while Fr. Pedro WalpoleCoordinator for Reconciliation with Creation

    Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific uses research at the Environmental Science for Social Change project in the Philippines to help communities make the safest plans for when the urban poor are relocated

  • while others still, like Fr. Jim Profit of the Ignatius Guelph Center are developing new retreats that enhance our spiritual understanding of our relationship with our environment.

The responses within the Society of Jesus itself and communities of Jesuit educated people may be diverse, but are rooted in a common sentiment: a commitment to establish right relationships with God, others and creationSince the 1980's the Society has witnessed the connections between justice for human beings and care for creation.


Reflecting upon the experience of individual communities where people on the margins suffered the worst consequences of natural disasters, a Jesuit task force came up with this conclusion: "We Jesuits cannot shut our eyes in front of the tragedy happening increasingly to those we proclaim to be in solidarity with." Jesuits recognize that the poor are the first people facing the ecological crisis. Acting to address that crisis requires recognizing the interrelated problems of pollution, consumption, climate change, monocultures, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality.


As Jesuits have recognized the ecological crises worldwide, the Society was creating advocacy networks on a number of topics, and included ecology as one topic that required particular attention. In order to address ecology in a more coordinated way, different regional representatives reported about the different experiences of ecological injustice faced by Jesuits and their communities.


From India to the Phillipines to Canada

At a meeting last fall, Fr. Xavier Savariumuthu reported about the trouble facing parts of India as communities struggle to find safe drinking water in the face of arsenic poisioning. Other Indian communities faced central planning efforts to create special economic zones, where communities would be displaced because of the construction of megadams. Fr. Pedro Walpole spoke to his experiences in the Phillipines, where forests were being razed to make way for palm plantations. Fr. John McCarthy, shared how within Canada indigenous communities were threatened by the expansion of oil exploration, oil which would contribute to climate change. The examples in the discussions and in the reports from across the world illustrated the depth and breadth of the ecological crisis.


The Need for Water 

The advocacy network of the Jesuits found that despite the many differences between the issues of climate change, land ownership, industrial agriculture and the privatization of resources, many of these issues at their core were issues of water-oftentimes the right to water. The Jesuits tasked with guiding the GIAN Ecology network (Global Ignatian Advocacy Network), recognized how water was a pivotal resource across the globe. The right to water plays out in justice issues across the globe: commodification and privatization in the developed world, desertification and lack of basic water needs in Africa, flooding and extreme rainfall events in the Pacific, Arsenic poisoning in Southern Asia, and a combination of transboundary issues, rights and access, water pollution and contamination in Latin America.  The GIAN Ecology will advocate and raise awareness about the right to water at multiple international levels-including participating in the post Rio consultations "World We Want 2015", World Water Week and international conferences such as the International Summit on Water Cooperation for inclusive growth. 


While the Jesuits are coordinating to address the issue of water on an international level through the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network, Jesuit people across the globe are acting in a myriad of ways to care for Creation.


  • Loyola University Chicago
    is undergoing a campus wide transformation, coupling physical transformations to geothermal energy and farming with classes and programs to inform students on ecological issues. 
  • The Pan-Amazon Observatory
    is working to change the decision-making process surrounding megaprojects, so that socio-economic impacts and local voices are respected.
  • The global reach of the Society of Jesus gives the Jesuits a  wide view of the health of the world, and there is great hope that
    Pope Francisco, a Jesuit himself, will prioritize the environment. As Cardinal Jorge Bergloglio, he led the process in drafting the final recommendations of the Fifth General Conference of the Council of Latin American Bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007, which praised the plants and animals of the Amazon region, while criticizing extractive industries and agribusiness for failing to respect the economic, social and environmental rights of local communities, especially indigenous people.


As the Jesuits move to ensure the right to water for all, through the work of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network, it seems clear that they're moving in a direction that will be in alignment with Pope Francis' stewardship of the Catholic Church as a whole. With humility and witness, the Jesuits have seen the struggles of the communities that they work with and began to realize the environmental aspect of those struggles.


 With such witness, they are already beginning to fulfill Pope Francis' Easter message:

"Let us accept the grace of Christ's Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. ...  Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation." 



  1. Consider the idea of finding or forming a task force in your community to explore integrity of creation issues of concern. 
  2. Invite a speaker to come and share information about water rights and access - something so many take for granted!
  3. Water Audit - do a home and community audit of how water is being wasted - share your concerns, make some suggestions for change, write a letter to the editor of your local paper
  4. Investigate and plan ahead - click on the links below for more info:
  • World We Want 2015 The World We Want is a platform created by the United Nations and civil society to amplify people's voices in the process of building a global agenda for sustainable development. YOU CAN JOIN THE DISCUSSION
  • World Water Week - starting Sept 1 NEXT WEEK
    - check out the live webcasts
  • World Water Day - March 22 each year - consider highlighting in your community - check out the resources at UN Water 

In Christ's peace,


Pax Christi USA's Global Restoration/Care for Creation Committee expresses our gratitude to Liz Haney, EcoJesuit and Fr. Pedro Walpole GIAN for sharing their ministry and this article with us.

Fostering a reverence for all creation

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