Wednesday, 14 September 2016 00:00

Encounter of University-Research Group. Care for the earth: economy and population

The Conference of the University-Research group of the Teresian Association (TA) took place in San Sebastian, European Capital of Culture 2016, from August 25-29. The theme of the conference was inspired by one aspect of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: "Caring for the Earth: economy and population."

At the opening of the conference, Carmen Azaustre, chairwoman of the Standing Committee, organizer of the encounter, said a few words to greet the participants and read a message from the TA Council of Spain which showed interest in the subject and expressing confidence that the group will achieve progress along these lines. Carmen Azaustre stressed that Pope Francisco, in his encyclical, presents a broad political vision aimed at a new global approach. She also referred to a text by poet Gabriel Celaya which defines San Sebastian as an "open city."

The first presentation of the meeting was given by José Ignacio García Jiménez, director of the Social Center of the Jesuits in Brussels. García Jiménez said: “Encyclical Laudato Si: a look at the current economy and business." The speaker described the encyclical as "an explosive content" because it touches on many issues and "has a clear political intent."

Explosive content


For García Jiménez, the encyclical means: a description of the environmental crisis; a strong criticism of the economic system; an attempt to rewrite the theology of creation and its implications for our faith; proposals for action for society and for the Church.

He stressed that the Pope states that there are no two separate crises, one environmental and another social, but a single and complex socio-environmental crisis. He noted that, in education on social action, people never talk about certain environmental issues.

He emphasized some aspects of the encyclical, such as questioning the market, which leaves many people in the gutter, and "the throwaway culture." Also, the concept of "rapidification" the immense speed with which changes occur and our inability to act before them.

In his opinion, the role of the Christian community in this situation is to promote dialogue, education, spirituality, and engaged communities.

Towards a new citizenship

0908-1The second speaker, Martin Iriberri ,SJ, specialist in social intervention and intercultural mediation, is a member of the Alboan team, an NGO for cooperation for development, and directs a project to accompany incarcerated people. He spoke on "Towards a new citizenship. Current challenges to an intercultural citizenship." He began his speech by listening to the song "The Bonfire of the continents.”

He spoke of moving from a national citizenship to inclusive citizenship linked to residence rather than nationality. He wondered how 150,000 refugees can bring a crisis to Europe, which has 200 million people.

He presented three models of integration: assimilationist, multicultural and intercultural. And he stressed the current challenges to intercultural citizenship. "The health of democracy depends on the sense of identity, on the ability to tolerate the other, on different people working together, on participating in public processes, on sensitivity to justice, and the commitment and distribution of goods".

He concluded by outlining the current refugee crisis, used graphics showing the numbers of refugees in different countries, making derisory the number of refugees who want to enter Europe, and the main routes of immigration to this continent.

Presentation of Papers

Attendees enjoyed several papers that aroused considerable interest. With the title "Angels Caso and immigrant women," María Jesús Sánchez Portuondo, analyzed the novel “Contra el viento” (Against the Wind) presenting the adventures and learning of immigrant women, in contrast to others who have everything and are not happy.

Beatriz Núñez Angulo presented the Ubu-Bangalore project, born out of campus ministry at the University of Burgos, which involves college students working in an orphanage in India.

Maria Dolores Valencia presented a reflective journal, researched with her students, as a way of knowing what students learn, how they think about what they learn, and how they relate it to reality.

Speaking about "Historical Memory: Time and Space," Guadalupe Pedrero distributed a brochure explaining the objectives and functions of the Historical Archives of the Teresian Association. She stressed that the archives keep the memory that can make history.

Thomas Sheehan, in his paper titled "Suspicious about the masters of suspicion," offered assistance to interpret Freud, Marx and Nietzsche and presented the inconsistencies of these thinkers. "We can and we must be suspicious about the masters of suspicion," he said.

The encounter included moments of prayer and celebration of the Eucharist, presided by Juan Jesús Bastero, SJ.


The participants also visited the Museum of San Telmo, which held a temporary exhibition on the occasion of San Sebastian as cultural city 2016, entitled "1516-2016. Peace treaties." The permanent exhibition is centered on Basque society and citizenship. Also they visited the Aquarium and enjoyed a dinner at the Basque Gastronomy Society, which is an important ingredient of Basque culture. Given the wide range of possibilities in the city, there was room for everyone to participate in other cultural activities and beautiful walks.

Some time was devoted to talk about the next encounter and it was decided to hold it from January 27-29 in Los Negrales.

Nieves San Martín



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