By Fr Rampe Hlobo SJ
Washington DC. Representatives of the Jesuit Conferences of Africa & Madagascar, Asia Pacific, Canada & US, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, together with the Deputy Director of JRS and the Network Advocacy & Communications Coordinator of Justice and Ecology Secretariat, came together for a five-day meeting from 3 - 7 February 2020.
The meeting took place under the auspices of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) Migration Group. The purpose of the meeting was, among other things, to organise and align the work of the GIAN Migration network in the light of the General Congregations and the UAPs. Javier Cortegoso Lobato, a representative of the conference of Latin America and current coordinator of the group, opened the meeting with a reflection guided by questions that were used by the General, Fr Arturo Sosa, during the recent SJES Congress in Rome in November 2019.
This gathering of the GIAN Migration group was characterised by the sharing of experiences from the different conferences and the work done by JRS around the world. The meeting focussed on the causes and drivers of migration, the characteristics and migratory flows, the socio-political contexts, including the various legal frameworks promoting or impeding migration.
Many similarities and common developments from the different Jesuit Conferences and parts of that world were identified. The recurring and pertinent cross-cutting issues that were shared by representatives, highlighted problems of securitisation of the borders, xenophobia, Afrophobia, aporophobia (fear of the poor and marginalised), restrictive regulations and migration policies, criminalisation of migration and migrants, vulnerability in migration, growing hostility towards those helping migrants and the perilous nature of migration trends.
These notoriously problematic and overlapping areas were grouped into five categories: Wounds, Challenges, Trends, Threats, and Opportunities. Although not remarkably new, as a stranger to these issues might have thought, these reminded the group of the ever-growing complexities of migration and of the urgency and need for coordinated responses to migratory challenges. If the Society of Jesus and collaborators are to respond effectively and truly walk with the marginalised (migrants), as recommended by UAP 2, collaboration and cooperation will be indispensable.
The meeting was concluded with a strategy that will hopefully help promote in all Jesuit Conferences a culture of hospitality. This strategy will include the use of our Ignatian Spirituality and other Jesuit resources, namely analysis and research; sharing of best or good practices; global mapping of our interventions; just to mention a few. To ensure implementation and concrete follow-up of the deliberations of the meeting, deadlines were put in place and they will be monitored with a form of peer–review mechanism.