Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in the Holy Land

Justice, peace and the integrity of creation are values that for Franciscans must be promoted. This is why the Order of Friars Minor has set up a body for the facilitation and sensitization of this message: the General Office for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC). Br. Jaime Campos, who has been the director of the JPIC office in Jerusalem for a few days, had the opportunity to speak to the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. During the meeting that took place on May 30, Fr. Jaime explained that “these values did not come about on a specific date, but are from Jesus himself and are present in his preaching.” The dimension that surrounds justice, peace and the integrity of creation is “an essential dimension of our vocation,” according to the JPIC office director, “and in this sense, must be facilitated, like all of the other dimensions, and must be part of the planning of our pastoral activities.”

In the hall of the Immaculate at St. Savior’s in Jerusalem, the friars of the Custody who guard the Holy Places and who are from the different fraternities gathered together. In front of this audience, Fr. Jaime Campos illustrated the effective work of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation office that he directs. The director, also called facilitator-general, had an assistant with him. There were also 13 conferences which grouped the provinces by language, geographical area and number, as well as a fourteenth one, that of the Holy Land. Each conference had a delegate who was part of the International Council of Justice and Peace and each entity had a facilitator. The Rome central bureau [outlined] four areas of action:
1. Formation with the elaboration of the aforementioned writings, the publication of a "Contact" bulletin every four months, with the organization of a JPIC course at the Antonianum University in Rome;
2. Coordination of international conferences organized by the General Order and meetings of the International Council and the facilitating/organizing committee;
3. Communication with the Order’s general government;
4. Collaboration with the Secretaries General of the OFM and with organizations linked to the Franciscan world (such as Franciscan International, Talita Kum, etc.)

For the Custody of the Holy Land, the facilitator of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation office is Fr. Giorgio Vigna, from the Basilica of Agony in Gethsemane. Three other friars (Br. Jean Luke Gregory, Fr. Feras Hejazin and Br. Carlos Santos) make up the JPIC custodial commission. “We must bring these values to life in the concrete lives of the fraternities, which the friars must then communicate in a different way in the schools and in the parishes of the Custody,” Fr. Giorgio explained. “Justice precedes peace and, without justice, peace is impossible. Justice must take people’s rights into account," he said in reference to the situation in the Holy Land. “We must work hard in regards to the idea of the care given to creation, the collection of waste, saving water, etc.”
“I would like to see some concrete initiatives on this subject,” said Fr. François-Marie. “This is the first time I have heard of this commission and I am very interested in these topics,” said Fr. Salem.

Fr. Jaime Campos explained that the values of justice, peace and the integrity of creation are the same as those stressed by Pope Francis. “The Pope speaks about integral ecology because it is not only an ecology that aims to protect plants and trees, but one that also takes man in account. Ecological problems are linked to social injustices.” With the Seraphic Father, St. Francis, however, we have an important lesson to learn, according to Fr. Jaime: “He was able to see that everything is created by God, and that is why we are all brothers. This conception of life, united with Franciscan spirituality like that of St. Bonaventure, helps us understand that through creation one can reach God.”
On the same day in the afternoon, a meeting was held between the JPIC Commission of the Custody and the Secretary for Formation and Studies, the Secretary for Mission and Evangelization, the moderator of continuing formation and headmaster of students: this is the first step toward beginning a joint collaboration.

Beatrice Guarrera