INTEGRITY OF CREATION
- In the “pueblos jóvenes” on the outskirts of Lima, Valentino hews
the raw rock of the mountainside to make a home for his pregnant wife
and two children. Driven off his land first by terrorists and then by
the military, he joined the flood of displaced people, refugees in their
own land. Without employment and suffering from TB, yet with an
indomitable spirit, Valentino coaxes life into plants flowering in tin
- During the recent war in Bosnia, 80,000 young girls and women were
raped between the ages of 8 and 80.
- Huddled on a mat in her grass hut a young Rwandan refugee woman lies
dying of Aids. She is the sole support of her two young sisters and her
- More than half of the world’s tropical forests have disappeared
since 1950. They are disappearing at the rate of an acre a second. They
are home to indigenous peoples and millions of species. They regulate
climates, prevent floods and landslides. They are the source of more
than half of our medicines.
For a Christian to remain silent and unmoved in the face of such
tragedy, such violence and destruction is a denial of the Gospel. At the
opening of his public ministry Jesus proclaimed the role of the Christian:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
Jesus also said:
I came that you may have LIFE,
and have it in abundance.
Human beings and the rest of God’s creation are being deprived of LIFE.
A passion for justice, a desire for peace and non-violence, a concern for
the integrity of all creation (JPIC) are essential to the living out of
the gospel. They are not an optional extra but a way of life. Action for
justice and participation in the transformation of the world are a
constitutive dimension of preaching the gospel and essential to the
Church’s mission of liberating the human race from every oppressive
situation (Justice in the World #5).
Justice and Peace are not new words in our vocabulary, nor are they new
concepts in theology and missiology; however, they have taken on a new
meaning as we continue our search for the WHY, WHAT and HOW of Mission and
of a New Evangelisation, at the dawn of a new Millennium; the expression,
Integrity of Creation is relatively new, and is being given increasing
importance due to the present precarious state of our planet.
Commitment to JPIC differs from Social Action or Social Ministry in
that it is about a way of life which leads to JPIC becoming an integral
dimension of all our ministries/activities.
In some contexts and among some groups, for various reasons, there is a
felt need to call commitment to JPIC by some other name. Among the
suggestions proposed are the following for your consideration:
- A renewed Call to Discipleship.
- A renewed Biblical Agenda.
- Promoting the Reign of God in today’s world.
When we talk about JPIC, there is often a discussion on the term “poor”
as to whether it can be broadened to include those in need
psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. In this manual the term
poor refers principally to those who are materially poor; the other
categories of poor also need to be treated with justice, but this would be
matter for reflection and action at another level.
0.1. DIFFERENT CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE
We can find many answers to the question, “Why should anyone work for
People work for justice:
- because of their brothers and sisters who are suffering and will
continue to suffer until there is justice;
- because they dream of a world in which all will be equal and treated
according to their dignity;
- because of a belief that it is in the interests of all that justice
should be done;
- because of who God is;
- because the Gospel tells us to seek the reign of justice;
- because of who we are, created in the image and likeness of God,
taught by the Saviour, and formed by the Spirit.
Let us look at a number of different ways of understanding what justice
- Justice is associated with the balance of justice. It is defined as
the giving to each one what each one deserves. In this sense it is a
question of nothing more than reward and punishment.
- Justice has to do with the needs, rights and obligations of the
human person in society. Each one has the responsibility to act towards
others in a way that ensures what they need for their life, rewards good
actions, and respects basic rights, and in turn to see that each
individual receives what is necessary for his or her own human
- Justice relates to people's character. This meaning places at the
centre of attention neither the socially desirable outcome nor obedience
to the moral law. Rather personal character is stressed. Justice is
neither some public state of affairs, nor is it conformity to an
objective moral standard; but it is what the just person actually
practises; there is a moral skill, an excellence of justice, as of other
- Justice is a question of right relationships between people, between
people and creation, between people and God. The quest for justice is
the effort to build constructive and liberating relationships between
all of these.
- Finally justice can be understood as God's way of being and acting.
In God's way of doing things there are all of the other four
understandings of justice, but with the added element of gratuitousness.
God is always just, but God's justice is something more. We have it in
the story of the Good Samaritan and in the story of Job. Divine justice
holds out the ideal for us of doing what is over and above, and of a
justice that goes beyond our limited view of what is right and just. It
is justice without a strict measure, justice with generosity, justice
which does all that is required and a little more. Where this justice
abounds, joy abounds, all of creation is honoured and safeguarded and
there is peace. It is both God's gift and something for which people
have to work.1
0.2. WHY A MANUAL FOR JPIC PROMOTERS?
Through our regular sharing of experiences, reflections and searching
for ever-more relevant responses the group of JPIC promoters representing
more than 50 international Religious Congregations in Rome (see Appendix 7
for list) felt the need to create a manual. Also, in our contacts with our
sisters and brothers in the field, requests have been made for a “tool” to
help those who are searching for the HOW of mission in the context of
The suggestion for a manual was first made two years ago. While working
on this manual we have become increasingly conscious of the already
existing work-books, documents and audio-visual aids which are available
for formation in JPIC. This manual is intended to be only an additional
tool, and in no way contains all the answers to today’s questions on the
injustices and violence being done to humanity and the environment.
The following are the major themes that are included in the manual:
- Reading the signs of the times.
- Biblical foundations for jpic.
- The social teaching of the church and social analysis.
- Re-imaging religious life.
- Re-imaging mission.
Hopefully, it can serve as:
- a helpful manual for JPIC promoters.
- a tool for formators, pastoral workers and animators at the
institutional or grass-roots levels.
- a “Confidence-builder” for those who are sincerely searching.
This Manual for JPIC Promoters provides guidelines to move from silence
and powerlessness in the face of poverty, injustice and violence; to be
more effective purveyors of good news, proclaimers of liberty and freedom;
to be perceivers of new dreams and visions, in our quest to be At the
Service of LIFE.
0.3. HOW WAS THIS MANUAL PREPARED?
- A drafting committee of four JPIC promoters prepared a 1st draft
which was distributed to the promoters at one of the meetings for
comments and suggestions.
- In the light of comments received, the committee prepared a 2nd
draft, and this was given to a group of three promoters for their
“critique” which was discussed at a joint meeting with the drafting
- An editing committee which included members from the drafting
committee and a new member edited the 3rd draft, which was then
distributed to a group of fifteen JPIC promoters (representing all
continents) who were willing to review it, and give their comments in
view of the final draft.
- The manual in its present form was published in June 1997.
- While preparing this Manual we have tried to be aware of the
diversity of contexts (political, economic, cultural, social and
religious) of those who will be using this manual. Please feel free to
leave aside what does not apply to your particular context.
- The statistics given in the manual have been taken from various UN
documents, reports and other reliable sources. Some of these could be
out-dated by the time you use this manual on account of the rapid
changes taking place, but we have included them here to help those who
may otherwise not have access to such facts.
- This manual has been prepared by an inter-congregational group. You
are invited to enrich it with your own charism, with extracts from your
institute documents, and stories/examples from members of your
- As mentioned earlier, this manual is not a complete programme that
touches all issues of JPIC.
- This is not a book to be read right through at a stretch: it is a
resource guide and a “companion” on your JPIC journey.
It is only a working tool. It needs to be completed by each one of you.
You can add to this manual your own material which can help you in your
own particular context. If you have material which you consider important
to be shared with other religious congregations and groups, kindly send
them to your Institute JPIC co-ordinator or the JPIC contact person in
your General Council, requesting him/her to share it with the JPIC
promoters group in Rome. Any feed-back and comments on this manual will
also be welcome.
D.Murphy SJ. "The many ways of Justice: Studies in the Spirituality of
Jesuits", The Month 26 (1994) 2.