The Congregation of the Mission Vincentian International Network for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (VIN-JPIC)
In March 2017, the superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and his council approved the creation of the Vincentian International Network for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation. Fr. Tomaz requested from every province to name a confrere who would represent the Province in this new initiative of the Congregation. Today we are happy because almost all provinces already named their representatives to this network. On July 22-26 we will have the first meeting of delegates of the American Provinces in Colombia and on September 23-27 we will have the meeting of representatives of the African Provinces in Nigeria. The meetings for the European and the Asia Pacific provinces will be early next year.
The purpose of these gatherings is to form the delegates with regard to the scope of political advocacy and to connect this new initiative with the works of systemic change. We want to do joint planning for each continent, to explore ways to collaborate with other ecclesial and civil initiatives and to elect a continental coordinator for the board of VIN-JPIC. The first goal of our network is to form and plan with the provincial delegates so that they introduce the ministry of political advocacy in their respective provinces.
The Vincentian International Network for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation is based on the dynamism of the charism and its relation to the Reign of God. This group promotes the values and attitudes of justice, peace and integral ecology on the personal, community, provincial and international level of the Congregation of the Mission. This group also represents the prophetic position of the Congregation which desires to join its voice to the many voices that cry out for justice. The group also wants to be voice for our planet and to create the necessary structures for those who have no voice to find it. This is a network that is oriented toward action, toward formation, toward promoting and supporting campaigns that denounce and attempt to put an end to the causes of injustice and the violation of human rights and the abuse of our common home. All of this is done in accord with the teachings of Laudato Sí and in accord with the lines of action that were approved at the 2016 General Assembly of the Congregation.
By vocation, the Congregation of the Mission, together with the worldwide Vincentian Family, cannot be oblivious to the great challenges of the global reality. The growing global impoverishment is the result of the exclusionary and predatory practices of the current competitive, liberalizing, deregulating, and privatizing globalization.These practices utilize modern technology to extend its roots throughout the earth. Faced with this reality, we cannot act in a naïve manner or engage in charitable or promotional activities that do not include systemic action and political advocacy at all levels.
The theory of the birth of humanity (a rational explanation) is questioned today because of the inhuman cruelty of the present era: the wars in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan; the violence in Latin America, the humiliation of Venezuela, the abandonment of the refugees in Lesbos (Greece), the cruelty of the “labor reform” laws, extensive terrorism, the racism in North America, the unspeakable savagery of trafficking in drugs, arms, and human beings, the scourge of human slavery, the efficient and lethal economic system together with the acceleration of the rupture of the ecological order that results in the death of living systems … all of these are unequivocal signs of the advent of a new inhumanity founded on an exclusive anthropocentric/individualistic paradigm!
What is the meaning of our IDENTITY AND MISSION when pain as brutal as torture, sexual slavery, bone cancer without medical attention, hunger, third degree burns, slow and indecipherable genocide, violent death of social leaders and of modern-day prophets … when all of these realities show us that something very real and undeniable is there, right in front of us? Today, where do we find God? What is God asking of us? It is urgent to hear the cries of life for our own personal advent and for the advent of the Congregation of the Mission and the Vincentian Family. As we listen to those cries, we are in turn able to enter into a profound communion and solidarity with humanity and with the earth. That is how the charism was born and that is how it should be lived today! In that context it makes great sense that the Congregation of the Mission is a non-governmental organization that, together with other entities of the civil society, advocates for policies to reduce at every level, all forms of social, existential, and structural suffering. In this context it is also good that we implement, the best we can, the intuition of the general Assembly 2016 to engage in works of justice, peace and integrity of creation.
In light of so much pain and suffering, there should be a consensus for the entire Vincentian Family to strengthen a commitment to our refoundation and for a vigorous and prophetic reinterpretation of our identity and our mission. It is urgent to strengthen global collaboration and to multiply our efforts to change the socio-political and economic culture since the current practice is clearly unsustainable especially if we are concerned about the life of all those excluded, the common good and the protection of life in all its forms. Our presence in the United Nations forces us to remain united to the whole and to contribute (from our identity and mission) to this common agenda that, for us, is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus and in his passion for the Kingdom.
Our response to poverty will always have to be adapted to the circumstances of time, place and culture. There are, however, some characteristics that make that response unique to our being and our way of acting: because of their knowledge of people living in poverty, because of their respect for the dignity of human history, and because of their love which is expressed in service and in their struggle for justice, Vincentians will always take a position in favor of life in all its forms. We celebrate life in those communities where we share the word and break the Eucharistic bread with passion and competence.
Our collective purpose (an understanding that was developed by St. Vincent) cannot be separated from the fate of the poor and today, from the fate of the planet. Today we must recover the understanding that St. Vincent had of “evangelization” as an action of integral care for the most abandoned (material and spiritual: TOTAL). Furthermore, it was clear to St. Vincent, as it has also been clear to us, that it is useless to tell people that they are children of God and that Christ died for them, if they are dying of hunger, if society despises them, and if dogs are better treated than they.
The Vincentian charism is our common heritage, the motive for our gatherings and for our disagreements. In light of the four hundred and two years of uninterrupted life and action, we feel proud of this charism, and we never cease to feel a great responsibility to keep it alive, to embody it every day, to let it be our way of seeing, thinking, feeling and acting … to discern and reinterpret this charism of the Spirit from the perspective of the challenges of our modern-day history of chaos and hope. VIN-JPIC wants to contribute to the constant revitalization of our common gift: the Vincentian Charism!
Leonardo Boff, La tierra esta en nuestras manos: nueva visión del planeta y de la humanidad, Sal Terrae, Spain, 2015, p. 83.
Cfr. Joe Foley CLAPVI article 2019
Author unknown: cf. http://vincentians.com/es/san-vicente-de-paul-y-la-avangelizacion/