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For nearly five hundred years, the Society of Jesus has been dedicated to a mission of reconciliation. To open the Task Force on Peace and Reconciliation panel during the 2022 IAJU Assembly, Rev. Elías López Pérez, S.J. of Comillas Pontifical University (Spain) asked a guiding question: Are we ready to build bridges of reconciliation through a revolution of tenderness?

 

Global Work Toward Peace and Reconciliation

 

The panel showcased testimony from Colombia: a community with a profound and complex history of conflict. Maria Camila Mantilla Vivas of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali (Colombia) explained how this video provides a concrete example of possible reconciliation between two groups who were previously enemies.

 

Rev. Luis Felipe Gómez Restrepo, S.J. from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali (Colombia) further contextualized the testimony by describing when the university welcomed former combatants to campus. “We fight for life and life in abundance,” he said. “This is the risk we have taken on as a university. These are the spiritual and social fruits for our city of Cali.”

 

Next the conversation moved to reconciliation work in Eastern and Central Africa. Rev. Elias O. Opongo, S.J., director of the Centre for Research, Training & Publications (CRTP) at Hekima University College (Kenya), described the important role that Jesuit universities can play through peace and reconciliation research. He provided four important pillars, guided by the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm:

 

  1. Understanding contextual complexities,
  2. Reflective research methodologies,
  3. Handling controversial issues, and
  4. Creating rays of hope.

 

He stressed that Jesuit universities should be “part and parcel” of reconciliation processes in their countries: this implies moving away from a culture of indifference to a culture of encounter and social change.

 

Alma Maria Ocampo Salvador, associate professor of political science at the Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) next brought the panel to Southeast Asia, describing the efforts of her university’s department of political science toward teaching peace and reconciliation. These efforts are centered on curricular changes to train leaders of social justice and accountability.

 

Finally, Rev. Enrique Sanz Giménez-Rico, S.J., rector of the Universidad Pontificia Comillas (Spain), shared highlights of the 2021 IAJU International Conference on Ignatian Reconciliation. The conference introduced fourty-one examples of peace and reconciliation from the Jesuit network across the world. The reports were compiled into the book, Conferencia internacional de Reconciliación ignaciana, which is available for all Assembly participants to download free of charge here.

 

Finally, Rev. Elías López Pérez, S.J. of the Universidad Pontificia Comillas (Spain), introduced the newly coined term: “preventive reconciliation.” Rev. Jacques Haers, S.J. of KU Leuven (Belgium) explained that “preventive reconciliation focuses on listening to the young, but also trying to find the sources of hope that can strengthen them for a future reconciled world in peace.”

 

Opportunities to Become Involved in the Task Force on Peace and Reconciliation

 

  1. Explore and add to this map to identify Jesuit peace and reconciliation initiatives around the globe. You are invited to contribute to the map by writing to tfreconciliationiaju@gmail.com.
  2. Join ReconciliaNet, a worldwide network of Jesuit-related institutions and initiatives involved in peacebuilding and reconciliation.
  3. Join JesPRI, a collaboration among academic institutes specializing in peace studies.
  4. Read and contribute to Best Practices in Jesuit Higher Education.
  5. Complete the Task Force Mentimeter poll.

 

Learn more about the Task Force on Peace and Reconciliation here.