The Society of Jesus has been, and still is, one of the most widespread grassroots organisations in the world in contact with low-income, disadvantaged and otherwise marginalised people. It also has one of the largest pools of knowledge and research facilities, and is in contact with many people
in decision-making positions. The creation of the Ignatian Advocacy Network (IAN) is an attempt to solve the problem of disconnectedness between these three major assets of the Society. The Network hopes to use the Society's untapped capacity to influence public policy in favour of the common good and of those rendered weak and voiceless, in the conviction that "whatever you do to the least of them you do to me." (Mt 25, 40).
The growing river of the Ignatian Advocacy Network has been fed by waters coming from many sources, some of them mere brooks, some of them streams in their own right. Among these may be mentioned the two-week Workshop on Violence and War 2 which was organised by the Social Justice Secretariat (SJS) in September 2005 at the Santa Severa retreat house near Rome, and a discussion at a one-week workshop on Common Apostolic Discernment at the Drongen retreat house in Belgium in
June 2007. This last led to a meeting of Jesuit NGOs and institutions close to the social apostolate in November 2007. These international gatherings, together with the annual meetings of social apostolate coordinators at the Jesuit Curia, led to a growing sense among decision-makers in the social apostolate that global issues and challenges need global (as well as local) responses.
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