The testimony of Br. Jaime Campos, outgoing head of the JPIC office

After seven years of service in the general office of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation, Br. Jaime Campos returns to his home province, the Holy Trinity Province in Chile. In fact, Br. Daniel Nicolas R. Blanco has been appointed as animator of the general office of JPIC, officially leading the office since September 1, but who has already begun his activities in support of the values promoted by the Order several months ago, thanks to the collaboration with the outgoing head. 

“I arrived in 2015 in Rome in the General Curia,” says Br. Jaime. I had already been working for the JPIC office in my province in Chile for nine years, and so I had gotten to know the previous office head.” For this important organ of the OFM Curia, which now has four decades of history since its founding (1979), the past few years have been decisive years. Indeed, Pope Francis published two fundamental encyclicals, Laudato Si’ (2015) and Fratelli tutti (2020), which focused on the themes of integral ecology and brotherhood among peoples.

“I see these Encyclicals as a great blessing and with a sense of justice,” commented Br. Jaime. Blessing because speaking to the brothers with the support of the Papal Magisterium is different. Sense of justice because I believe the Pope has done justice to St. Francis and the Order. The content of Laudato Si’ is a reflection made by the Order in the past years and then these are two encyclicals related to Franciscan spirituality.” 

The sensitivity of the friars on these issues, therefore, has changed a lot in recent years, also thanks to Pope Francis. Today 95 percent of OFM provinces have a JPIC animator, but much more needs to be done. “I see with much hope that the friars can discover the values of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation,” continued Br. Jaime. Future work will have to go toward more and more collaboration with the other offices of the Curia. I hope that JPIC values will be carried forward with a missionary outlook and with formative intent. For example, in schools or by encouraging prayers for peace, as was done in the Holy Land.” 

Incredible strides had been taken prior to Br. Jaime’s arrival in Rome regarding documents explaining JPIC values and the creation of grants for the friars. “Something was missing to get to the people, the mediation of the content was missing,” said Br. Jaime. Thus, over the years, new means have been developed bit by bit: three websites related to different themes and initiatives, as well as social and Telegram channels. “We wanted to make sure that concrete structures were developed to implement the ideas of the JPIC office: the Franciscan Nework on Migrants is, in fact, an example in this sense. Revolution Laudato Si’ is also a platform where we want to carry forward the values and initiatives of Laudato Si.”

International JPIC Course at the Pontifical University Antonianum, 2019

Another step forward in recent years has been the consolidation of collaboration with the Franciscan family, for example with the support of many Franciscan sisters to initiatives proposed by JPIC offices around the world. “The JPIC office is not a closed office and does not address only the friars: we want to involve people of other religions, civil society,” explained Br. Jaime. Thank God our work has to do with anthropological as well as religious significance. We want to be a meeting point between the ideas, desires, and dreams of the Order.” In addition to the work within the Order, the connection with the outside world, such as that with the Laudato Si’ Movement, which has developed over time, has been important.

There were many noteworthy moments that characterized the work of these years of Br. Jaime: “Of my work, I was struck by the encounters with the friars,” he explained. “There are big scheduled meetings, such as those of the JPIC formation courses at the PUA (Pontifical Antonianum University) and then there are other more free meetings. Br. Jaime remembers well all the large gatherings, such as the one in February 2020, which brought together 70 people in Rome at the PUA who were eager to deepen the themes of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation. Alongside these, fraternal encounters in the fraternity of the General Curia were also fundamental: “I came from a small place, at the edge of the world, in Chile, and arrived at the center, in Rome,” recounted Br. Jaime. The friendship with the friars is beautiful, the support of friendship was important.”

Another noteworthy encounter was in November 2016 in Mexico: “I was very impressed by the encounter with the migrants of the Mexico house “the 70”: there I discovered for the first time the faces of the people, their stories. There that prejudice that you have with migrants, when you think they are people who cannot do anything, fell away in me. They were families like mine.” Since that time, a new way of working has also been inaugurated: to understand an issue, friars from JPIC’s general office go to the site. “For us and for all projects it is important to make paths and to have hope and discipline, without giving up before we have experienced everything,” concluded Br. Jaime. We need to think about our projects as long-term projects.” 

Beatrice Guarrera