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Vol. XVII, No. 09 05 April 2013
With Pope Francis at the Beginning of his Pontificate: is the title of the letter, dated March 14, that Father General wrote to the whole Society, noting that "it is a clear fact that the whole Church is observing and listening to the words and actions of the new Pope with great expectation. A general atmosphere of hope is tangibly perceived everywhere. There is a perfect fit between this hope and the name Francis that the Pope has chosen, as a prediction of renewal and reform that the Church itself wishes for all of us." Recalling the personal meeting of March 17, he adds: "Pope Francis feels deeply Jesuit, and he has manifested this in several moments during these days. We find an evident sign of this on his papal coat of arms as well as in the personal response he wrote to me on 16 March replying to my letter of the 14th." The letter reaffirm the union of the Society with the new Pope: "The Society continues to be united with the Holy Father in the person of Pope Francis whom we regard as our Superior. As we consider the complex issues and problems that he will have to face, we Jesuits need to reaffirm our support to the Holy Father and offer him - unconditionally - all our resources and help, be that in the theological, scientific, administrative or spiritual areas." He concludes: "It is solely from an attitude of humility that we will be able to cooperate in building up a Church poor and for the poor that can grow ever more daily, according to the heart of God and his son Jesus. Without any kind of triumphalism, let us make explicit with renewed vigor and zeal the closeness of the Society to our brother Francis. This is the moment to respond to his petition: to pray with him and for him. As friends in the Lord, we aim to accompany him in his journey of Cross and Life and, in accordance with our ecclesial spirituality, we place ourselves at his disposal with the same sentiments of joy and trust experienced by the whole Church."
Visit to Germany. From 4 to 6 April Father General paid a visit to the confreres of the German Province gathered for a symposium in Vierzehnheiligen, a site of pilgrimage. The evening of April 4 and the morning of April 5 were devoted to meetings and exchanges between Father General and the brethrens. During the Eucharist three Jesuits pronounced their final vows in the hands of Father General: Father Martin Müller, Brother Markus Pillat and Father Ngyuen Ngoc The. On the evening of April 4 Father General met with the Jesuits in formation in Berchmanskolleg, Munich. The morning of April 5 was devoted also to a meeting with lay collaborators to the many apostolic works of the Society of Jesus in Germany. Before the Sunday mass in St. Michael, the Jesuit church in Munich, Father Nicolás was able to pray on the tomb of Blessed Rupert Mayer in the Bürgersaalkirche, near St. Michael. Both these famous churches are located in the pedestrian centre of Munich.
Visit to the Province of Zambia-Malawi and Mozambique Region. After his brief stay in Germany (4 - 6th April), Father General will fly directly to Southern Africa where he will participate in the meeting of the Conference of Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) which will be held in Lusaka-Zambia from the 8th to 13th of April 2013. It will be the first time for Father Nicolás to visit the Zambia-Malawi Province. After the JESAM meeting, on the 14th and 15th April, he will visit some important works of the Province such as the Chikuni Mission, pay courtesy visit to the Archbishop of Lusaka and the Nuntio. He will then travel to Malawi and he will stay in Lilongwe for two days (16th and 17th of April). Then from the 18th to the 21st he will be in the dependent Region of Mozambique, particularly in Tete, Beira and in the city of Maputo. Also here he would see some apostolic works and meet with Jesuits and bishops. Among the topics for the JESAM Plenary are restructuring of Provinces and Regions in Africa, the common works and houses, also a reflection on the letter of Father General on Solidarity in the Formation of Jesuits. Many programs are on his timetable and already different communities are looking forward to meeting Fr. Nicolás and to be with him especially during the Eucharistic celebrations and share with him their joys and hopes amidst their daily challenges.
From the Provinces
INTERNATIONAL: Water for All and Jesuit Response
In December 2010, the UN General Assembly declared 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation and 22 March as World Water Day. This year World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater to draw attention to the benefits of cooperation in water management. All water systems are extremely complex, be the management systems at the local or national level, internationally shared river basins or parts of the natural hydrological cycle. Managing these systems requires multiple actors, from users and managers to experts from various disciplines and decision-makers. Cooperation is crucial not only to ensure the sustainable and equitable distribution of water but also to foster and maintain peaceful relations within and among communities. Father Adolfo Nicolas, referring to the document entitled Healing a Broken World, asked Jesuits and Jesuit institutions to understand our relationship with our environment as both ecological and sacred, calling for greater responsibility and reconciliation. In meetings with the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) that is overseen by Fr Patxi Alvarez S.J., water is identified as a specific focus for collaboration under the Ecology Network. The six Jesuit Conferences, through the Social Apostolate, are exploring how to move with such particular concerns at a global level. Fr. Jose Ignacio Garcia is coordinating discussions in the Ecology Network and experiences from the different regions are emerging.
INDIA: Jesuits for Social Justice
Thirty Jesuits along with some of their collaborators and lay leaders attended the three day colloquium March-15-17 at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. They discussed the theme "Our commitment to the nation in the making". Fr. Edward Mudavassery, Provincial of South Asia, said the region "is changing very quickly and we need to respond promptly and appropriately to provide social action ministry in the Assistancy with a frame work to make suitable responses to the current challenges." The worst affected are the dalits, tribals, farmers, the nomadic tribes, the rural landless and the urban slum dwellers. While women have suffered much among the marginalized communities. "The increasing gulf between the rich and the poor has overwhelmed development and justice. Evictions and displacements have caused havoc. The criminal justice delivery system has failed to address the security concerns of the minorities," the final statement sais. As part of strategy, JESA (Jesuits in Social Action), the convener of the meeting, will forge alliances, build networks and join coalitions with secular forces. They will support mass action to draw attention of and bring pressure on the political governance system. The action plan also includes developing a system to monitor state institutions for transparency and accountability in performance.
LATIN AMERICA: The Voice of the Provincials and the New Pope
Buena Voz collected the declarations of three Provincials of the Society of Jesus in Latin America, which expressed their views on the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope, his projections, expectations and meaning for them that a Jesuit becomes the highest authority of the Catholic Church. A common denominator in the words of the three Provincials is the perception of the identification of Pope Francis with the poor and his intention to start a pontificate for them. They agree that his proposal will be to transmit this attitute to the whole Church, which has to be simple and far from ostentation and waste. For Alejandro Tilve, Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina and Uruguay, the name Francis has a singular purpose, different from all what has been named these days: "To transcend the boundaries of any religious congregation and to be universal." He remembers that Bergoglio is a "man of Church leaning to the needs of others, austere, dedicated and of governance." Francisco de Roux, Provincial of Colombia, spoke of the reaction of the Society of Jesus to the election of Francis: "We received the news of the appointment with discretion, without a winning attitude. We will put us at the service of this Pope, like any other." According to de Roux, the fact that the Pope is a Jesuit determines some features in common with everyone else in the Order: "Not to sought prestige, fame or power, but simplicity, like Jesus Christ. In his way, the Pope is a true Jesuit." For Miguel Cruzado, Provincial of Peru, the choice of the name Francis implies a perspective with four dimensions: "First, the bare feet; second, the gospel, Francis did not want many rules in his Order, the Order had to be the gospel; third, Francis' mission was to rebuilt a ruined church, Francis means someone who rebuilt the broken walls of the church; fourth, it is a tradition of love to life, to nature, it is a positive look to creation."
ROME: The Coat of Arms of Pope Francis
Pope Francis has chosen the motto Miserando atque eligendo, meaning lowly but chosen; literally in Latin "by having mercy, by choosing him". The motto is one the Pope had already chosen as bishop. It is taken from the homilies of the Venerable Bede on Saint Matthew's Gospel relating to his vocation: "Jesus saw the tax collector and by having mercy chose him as an Apostle saying to him : Follow me." This homily, which focuses on divine mercy and is reproduced in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Saint Matthew, has taken on special significance in the Pope's life and spiritual journey. In fact it was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that a young 17 year-old Jorge Bergoglio was touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Beyond the motto, the coat of arms has a blue field and is surmounted by the mitre and the papal keys. On the crest itself at the centre is the symbol of the Jesuits, a flaming sun with the three letters recalling the name and the salvific mission of Jesus. Underneath we have two more symbols: to the right the star representing Mary and to the left the nard flower representing Joseph.
SLOVENIA: International Volunteering Program
For some years now, Slovenian Jesuits and their lay coworkers have been working in the formation of young people involved in an international volunteering project called Pota (Ways). The main aim of this project is to offer to the young people formation and experience based on values of the Gospel, justice, solidarity and global co-responsibility. The program started with a desire of young people to build a better world based on intercultural and interreligious dialog and service to the poor. Every year Pota manages to organize six to eight different destinations where volunteering work is being done. The locations are spread throughout the globe including countries like India, Madagascar, Angola , Brasil, Peru, Bolivia, Vietnam, South Africa, Kirgizstan, Albania, Ukraine. Volunteering happens also locally and involves work with the Roma people.
SOUTH AFRICA: Against Abuse, Brutality and Rape
The Jesuit Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Johannesburg, Father Russell Pollitt, has called on its parishioners "to make a stand against abuse, brutality and rape" in South Africa, following allegations in a Sunday newspaper that a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) had sexually assaulted students. Holy Trinity is the Catholic Chaplaincy Church for students and staff at WITS, a multi-campus public research university situated in the Northern areas of central Johannesburg. Fr Pollitt has written an open letter in which he thanks the victims of these crimes who have come forward and placed their trust in him as the Pastor of Holy Trinity. "I cannot begin to imagine the hurt, pain and damage that you have suffered," he writes, adding that although he is not competent himself in these areas, he can offer a listening ear and refer victims to people who will be able to help. "I can offer you a place to talk, to feel safe and the support of the Church through prayer and the Healing Sacraments," Fr Pollitt's letter says. Holy Trinity parish, in partnership with a local school, has launched an initiative entitled Kwanele Kwanele ("Enough is Enough!") to register their stand against sexual abuse, brutality and rape. "We will ask parishioners to commit themselves to a pledge after all masses, when Kwanele Kwanele-shirts will be on sale," says Fr Pollitt. "We will be encouraging people to get a t-shirt and wear it on Fridays. Change begins with us and not with government or other authorities."