JUSTICE, PEACE, AND INTEGRITY
By Sister Tiziana Longhitano, SFP
Update Assembly June 2003
Let Us Reflect and Pray
1. Update on the JPIC work
2. Earth Charter: our points
3. Sharing Responses or Giving Ideas and Suggestions
1. As you already know, there is a Congregational JPIC Team composed of one SFP for every
continental area. There are 4 of us: Sr. Bernardette Sullivan for the US, Sr. Maria Lucia
Barboza for Brazil, Sr. Laura Cantello for Senegal and me for Italy; Sr. Marcia Dalhingaus
and Sr. Maria Atorino for the General Council. We have met periodically for projects,
updates and practical suggestions via conference calls and once in person before the
General Assembly. Recently, we have set up a discussion board on the Internet.
Because of recent events it has become necessary for the Congregation to take on an open
position in terms of JPIC, which we have finalized in the Declaration of Peace that you
all know and have subscribed to at the last Assembly. Through Sr. Jeanne, it has reached
the heads of the states were we are present. Some of them have responded in encouraging
terms. From the United Nations, Kofi Annan thanked us and said that our declaration
conforms to the ideals of peace and solidarity of the UN.
We have carried out our work in an increasingly more difficult international context where
Justice and Peace have been brought to everybody's attention. We have overcome the most
difficult moments by helping each other with words, gestures, and a bit of that hope that
we found possible to keep up, among ourselves and with others, even at times when it
almost seemed impossible. It is good to be able to say that not only did our ideas
circulate among us, but they have also reached a certain visibility and
that people have been willing to listen to our words is proven by facts.
Once the peace flags have begun to wave outside our houses they have become examples for
many. We have actual experience of people who requested information about it or who wanted
to have one; these are all opportunities to speak of peace and spread it.
In Padua, as part of the Pastoral to the Immigrants, the peace flag was used as sign to be
given for the Christmas of the Immigrants. We distributed one flag per family and at the
railway station; during the midnight Mass we passed it along in the crowd. Baby Jesus was
wrapped up in that flag (that same flag then went to Mirela, one of the girls staying at
Porta San Giacomo, who in turn brought it to the family that adopted her).
We have been present at fasting, marches and demonstrations of various kinds in the cities
where we live both as participants and as witnesses. I am referring to the peace marches
and the requests to appear in various local and national TV stations and to the request
from the ACLI of Rome for a testimony from the stage prepared at the Circo Massimo on
April 12, where many thousand people gathered from various socio-political orientations.
Moments of prayer, both prepared and spontaneous, have marked the difficult time before
and during the war in Iraq. Some of you wrote to me about this: "God will give us the
way to support this project for peace with the commitment and the desire to seek and want
His Will that is for all of us a Will of Peace at every moment."
As you know, even at the risk of being intrusive, I have tried to accompany, via email,
the information so that it could become opportunity for formation to peace, search for
justice, desire and commitment to a just peace.
As far as my commitment is concerned, I can honestly tell you that little by little I
became passionate about it. In this last period I am looking for references to understand
what already exists on this subject matter within the religious life and within the
structure of the higher ranks of the leadership, especially at the international level. I
am working in Rome with an international and intercongregational group of religious who
have been put in charge of JPIC by their General Councils, including some Franciscans
Friars Minor. The United Nations have proclaimed 2003 as the International Year of Waters.
We have put together a booklet on water, which can help our communities in reflecting,
praying and acting. Everyone had the task to work on part of it and a final editor turned
it into a document. My task has been that of finding references on water and religious
life. Everything will be published in as great number of languages as possible, also in
the Internet. I am putting together a web site in www.sfpitalia.it that soon will become
accessible for everybody.
In response to the numerous messages supporting initiatives that have been sent from our
computer I wrote: "Humanity is wounded, we can no longer put up with it; we can no
longer even speak of peace, it's no longer enough. I think we need to work and give life
so that in the minds of people, today, may begin to rise the idea of a just peace,
according to God, not just simply peace, which turns out to be "the absence of
war" and does not correspond to the true peace that we all desire and for which we
would, and indeed we do, give our lives. I know that saying these things means that I am
committing myself to the frontline, healing the wounds, and binding the fractures, and
saying to everybody that a just peace isn't easy but possible." This possibility, I
am certain, it's a belief that we all share.
I connected this belief, almost spontaneously, to the pastoral work I do at the University
of Rome III, were, as you know, I have been entrusted with the scientific disciplines.
With professors I am studying the Earth Charter, a document that integrates the
constitution on human rights. The JPIC meeting that we had before the General Assembly
aimed exactly at the studying of the Earth Charter. We realized that it's very close to
the Franciscan Charism in general and some points seem to emphasize the need to heal the
wounds of the poor and suffering humanity. We chose 5 points (you have them). On behalf of
the General Council Sr. Marcia is asking us to think about how to implement the 5
principles that, as committee, we have chosen from the Earth Charter and integrated to our
Declaration of Peace.
I therefore ask you, after few minutes that you can use to review globally the points I
just mentioned, to share your reactions or give me ideas and suggestions. Whatever we
cannot get done here you can send me, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), ASAP.
May the Lord give us peace.
Thank you for your attention and have a good work.