JAKARTA, INDONESIA - The OFM International Council for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) recently held its biennial meeting from June 19-26 here. Each Conference of the Order sent one participant for a spirited discussion of the Franciscan charism in this area with the animation committee and Joe Rozansky, OFM and Fabio L’Amour Ferreira, OFM from the Rome office. Jason Welle, OFM (ABVM Province) represented the English-Speaking Conference.
Discussions focused on three themes: lifestyle, mining, and the eradication of hunger. Participants reflected on lifestyle in the context of the lineamenta for next year’s General Chapter, which indicate the renewal necessary to live as brothers and minors in our time. JPIC reflection on lifestyle encourages simplicity of life, but in particular prompts friars to consider the consequences our lifestyle and patterns of consumption have for the poor. Many of the daily decisions we make regarding energy, food, water, clothing, etc., result in the exploitation of persons in the developing world.
Reflecting on lifestyle connects clearly to the meeting’s second theme, mining, a reality that touches every entity of the Order in different ways. The excavation of natural resources in the developing world results directly from the throw-away culture lamented by Pope Francis; Indonesian friars involved with mining gave first-hand testimony about the ecological destruction and the human rights abuses which multinational corporations have wrought here. The problem may seem large and distant, but simple decisions like recycling one’s cell phone, for which many rare earth metals are mined, can make a difference if approached collectively.
The third theme, the eradication of hunger, runs in parallel to this. A renewal of the practice of fasting and greater attentiveness to what kinds of food friars buy can awaken the community to the consequences of our habits for local food producers as well as hungry persons around the world. Do we have the discipline to deny ourselves certain things so that we may share our goods with the poor? Can we overcome indifference and consider our patterns of consumption as significant moral decisions?
The hospitality of the Indonesian friars was splendid throughout, especially in their attempts to introduce the ICJPIC to some of the realities of their social and religious context. For one day in the midst of the eight day meeting, half the participants visited a school for street children and the other half visited a Pesantren, or traditional Islamic seminary. A different night, Indonesian student friars and area school children staged an “Indonesian Cultural Night,” complete with traditional music and a play re-imagining John the Baptist prophesying against the mining industry. These young friars thus showed the rationale for holding the meeting in Jakarta: the Indonesian province’s deep dedication to justice and peace. They have six friars primarily engaged in this ministry, including an intentional JPIC friar community in Jakarta, an eco-pastoral center working with rural farmers, and extensive activity to raise awareness of the consequences of mining.
It was thus both fitting and sad when, near the end of meeting, five collaborators of the friars were arrested in connection with their work on mining. Participants signed a letter calling for their immediate release and request prayers for all persons imprisoned unjustly and for their families. This sobering news reinvigorated JPIC animators for their ministry back in their own countries, as did the beautiful closing Mass with Bishop Paskalis Bruno Syukur of the Diocese of Bogor, a friar of the Indonesian Province before his elevation to the episcopate earlier this year.
The ICJPIC in Jakarta aimed less at producing a large number of proposals and more at deepening commitment to values the order already shares: simplicity of life, care for creation, and solidarity with the least among us.