The International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace (IDCJP) recently held its annual meeting at the Casa per Ferie Enrico de Osso in Rome, 12-17 October. Comprising the friar and sister international and regional/continental J&P promoters, representatives of the Dominican nuns, laity, youth and UN delegations, the Commission was blessed to have a long conversation with the new Master of the Order, Fr. Gerard Timoner. Building on the decisions of the recent General Chapter in Vietnam, he affirmed the promotion of justice and peace, not as a specialized work, but as the work of all Christians and therefore of all Dominicans. He highlighted the importance of also promoting it ad intra – within the Order, to restore our relationships as brothers and sisters, and to proclaim it with joy. The lack of justice and peace in our communities obstructs vocation.
The reports of the members of the Commission revealed many excellent achievements over the past year, especially a strengthening of most regional structures and a growing J&P awareness among the nuns and especially the laity and youth, who, for their respective congresses in 2018 and 2020, have chosen Justice and Peace as the theme. A marked improved participation in the Dominican Month for Peace, focused on the DR Congo in December 2018, was also reported, and the meeting decided that the focus for 2020 will be on Ukraine. It was also decided to put a lot of energy into this year’s Month for Peace focused on India, to actively promote the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at national levels, to accept an offer to produce an annual book on Dominican J&P actions, reflections and statements, and to produce and to develop communications that will make the work of the Commission more visible, including a more active presence on social media and an annual brochure about the Commission.
A major highlight of the meeting was a visit to participate in some side events near the Vatican focused on the Amazonia Synod which resonated with a focus on environmental destruction and the urgency of care of Creation in most of our regions. Another highlight was a conversation on the Salamanca Process with the Socius for Intellectual Life, fr Pablo Sicouly, which showed the need for a lot more clarity on the concept if we want to emulate the achievements of fr Francisco de Vitoria and the Salamanca School in the sixteenth century!
Besides the efficiency of the work, the meeting was characterized by a joy at being together from all corners of the world. There was a sadness at saying farewell to those definitely finishing their mandates in the coming year (sr Irene Diaz, representing the nuns, and sr Marcelline Koch from North America), but a joy at welcoming for the first time fr Ricardo Guardado from Latin America, sr Marie Monnet from Europe, sr Teresa Dagdag and fr Victor Calvo from Asia Pacific, Monica Marco from the Youth and sr Dusty Farnan, the new representative at the UN in New York. This made visible what fr Gerard was asking of us – to ensure that, in the midst of so much suffering and injustice in our world, in the face of which we feel as small as a mustard seed, we can still experience joy on the way, with a hope that, through our efforts for justice and peace, God can grow a big tree and reap many fruits!