Social Justice & Ecology

Thai Jesuit education project on the way

With the cooperation and support of a considerable circle of lay experts as well as the advice of Jesuit educators in Asia Pacific, the Jesuits in Thailand are embarking on an ambitious education project to serve the poor, especially the indigenous communities in the northern mountains of the country.  An assistant professor at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai has been hired to conduct a feasibility study that will help the Jesuits work out many of the details of the proposed college.  It should be completed in August. 

Statement on Laudato si’

We, the major superiors of the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific, sincerely and enthusiastically welcome Pope Francis’ new encyclical Laudato si’ (On the Care of Our Common Home). He draws attention to the urgent need for reconciliation with creation, already one of our apostolic priorities in Asia Pacific. We urge all the members of our Conference, our colleagues, and all those we seek to serve to make a thoughtful and generous response to the Holy Father’s plea.

Pope Francis' environmental encyclical

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment has won many hearts, not least because it combines concern for the environment and for social justice. The Pope writes with authority because of his experience with the poor in large Argentinian cities. There the poor, caught in a society marked by great extremes of wealth and poverty are forced to live in polluted and unhealthy conditions. He has also visited poor villages whose people are vulnerable to the extreme weather events resulting from global warming.

Raising awareness of the Rohingya in Japan

For World Refugee Day this year, the Tokyo Jesuit Social Center chose to focus on raising awareness of the plight of the Rohingya in Japan. This decision stemmed from a Skype discussion the Migration Network of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific had about the thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar stranded in the sea by the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

On his return to Tokyo, Fr Isamu Ando SJ, who heads the centre’s migrant desk, asked himself what could possibly be done in Japan.

Becoming environment-friendly Jesuit houses

The Jesuits in the Philippines have committed to making their various houses environmentally friendly as part of reconciling with creation. They have begun by setting up waste management activities in their houses. This is a simple yet practical step that contributes to the broader initaitive of living a simple lifestyle.

Catholic Alliance for asylum seekers officially launched

The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) in Australia was officially launched at the start of World Refugee Week (June 14 to 20) in the country. Backed by leading Catholic peak organisations and convened by Jesuit Social Services, CAPSA aims to change hearts and minds across Australia in support of the abolition of harsh asylum seeker policies.

The initiative wants to build on work being done in Catholic schools, parishes and organisations across Australia.

It all began with SELA

On March 19 around 100 people congregated in Wisma Hijau, Depok, Indonesia to celebrate my 50 years of service with Bina Swadaya (self-reliance development). This is a charitable organisation based in Jakarta which runs 17 companies whose profits go to various social projects. It owes its foundation to a Jesuit priest, Fr John Dijkstra.

Hospitality and solidarity needed in addressing Rohingya

On May 19, Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific issued a statement calling for Southeast Asian nations and the global community to respond to the suffering of the Rohingya people who have been fleeing Myanmar in unprecedented numbers in recent weeks. Thousands did so by boat and were stranded at sea after being turned away by Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Building a better migration network

Visitors to Taiwan are greeted at the Taipei airport by signs welcoming migrant workers to the island country. The authorities provide a lot of information to migrant workers, on their rights as well as precaution measures in place, upon their arrival to the country, even before they meet their agencies or employers. In a country with 23 million people, the presence of more than half a million migrant workers is no small figure.

It was in this setting and context that this year’s Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific Migration Network meeting was held from April 21 to 23.

The need for a compassionate refugee policy

Two years after Pope Francis went to Lampedusa to demonstrate his solidarity with refugees and immigrants, the compassion he showed is needed. The recent pushback of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi immigrant workers by Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia has made it a call to the Jesuits of our region. Who can look unmoved into the eyes of the women, children, and men adrift on these boats as they are repelled by nation after nation?

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