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Vol. XV, No. 23 20 December 2011
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed:
- Father Antonio Spadaro Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Father Spadaro, Director of the magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, was born in 1966, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1996.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Severin Leitner General Consultor and Regional Assistant for Central-Eastern Europe (ECE) to replace Fr Adam Zak. Fr Severin was until now Rector of the Theologate at Innsbruck and Delegate for Formation of Jesuits in Europe. He was born in 1945, entered the Society in 1965 and was ordained priest in 1974.
- Father Kinley Joseph Tshering Provincial of Darjeeling (India). Fr. Kinley, currently rector and principal of St. Joseph School, North Point, was born in 1958, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1995.
- Father Vernon D'Cunha Provincial of Bombay (India). Fr. Vernon, currently Treasurer of the Province and Master of Novices for many years, was born in 1956, entered the Society of Jesus in 1977 and was ordained a priest in 1989.
From the Provinces
LATIN AMERICA: "One Dollar for Haiti"
The universities and colleges, along with other educational and apostolic networks of the Society of Jesus in Latin America, are acting together in a common strategy to strengthen Fe y Alegría-Haiti. Next January, a group of professionals will join the office for planning and will establish on-site offices, in order to help firmly in the challenge of Fe y Alegría to transform itself into a platform that will affect more significantly the educational field. As part of the project, a fund is being created with the enthusiastic and creative participation of the communities of colleges and alumni of Latin America. Between January and April, new European and American communities will join the project. The campaign that has been called "One dollar for Haiti," will be developed over three years and will focus the efforts of many Ignatian collaborators by channeling them in an efficient manner to produce great impacts on the beneficiary institutions. It is not only an act of solidarity but also of justice to our brothers in Haiti. The colleges (FLACSI) and the other networks associated with the project invite those who might join in this effort to share the information or to contribute to it on: www.ignacianosporhaiti.org
BELGIUM: 400 Years in Namur
The great anniversary program echoed the impact of the Jesuit stamp on the life of Namur, ever since their arrival 400 years ago. 1610-1611: the Jesuits opened a school comprising of five humanities classes, thereby settling for the first time in Namur. Next to the school, the Jesuits built a baroque church dedicated to St Ignatius, later re-baptized as, "Saint-Loup," still exists and reckons among the most beautiful jewels of Namur artistic heritage with its superb recently restored confessionals. The school had to close in 1773, in the wake of the suppression of the Jesuit order. The buildings, however, have kept their original purpose as educational institution. 1831: Return of the Jesuits. They settled in rue de Bruxelles where they built the "Notre-Dame de la Paix" school. The school would then split into three separate entities: the "Notre-Dame de la Paix" school in Erpent, the boarding moving to Godinne in 1927 (Saint Paul school), and the university college "Notre-Dame de la Paix" (FUNDP). 1935: The Jesuits opened the "Saint Bellarmin" institute in Wépion to house the Jesuit students of FUNDP. In 1971, the institute was converted into a Spirituality Centre (La Pairelle). The FUNDP mapped out a grand program including lectures, workshops, and a visit to the confessionals of Saint-Loup to celebrate those 400 years of Jesuit presence in Namur. On that occasion the Mayor of Namur presented F. Franck Janin, Provincial, with a medal commemorating the 400 years of presence of the Society in Namur.
CHINA: The Flowering Tree on the Rock
"Macerata, Italy, and Beijing, China, are more than ten thousand kilometers away from each other. In the 16th century, on this long road a man appeared who fostered the exchange of information between East and West, two worlds so far away and isolated from each other. Those two cultures changed a lot by that contact. The man had a Chinese name: Li Madou." This is how the film dedicated to Father Matteo Ricci begins on the Chinese TV (CNTV). It was recently broadcasted in four episodes in a new channel that is spread nationally and internationally. The title of the film is The flowering tree on the rock, and it is produced by Wenzong Wang, developed by Science & Education of Programming Center with the direction of Xiaomin Zhang. Some scenes were filmed on December of last year in Macerata by the Chinese crew with the logistic collaboration of the Committee for the Ricci Celebrations and the Macerata municipality. The film, which lasts two hours, tells the story of Ricci, his journey and his extraordinary enterprise in China, starting from his hometown and the places he left in 1568. It uses the contributions of Chinese and American historians and scholars such as Prof. Filippo Mignini, director of the Ricci Institute in Macerata, Prof. Luigi Ricci and the director of the Italian Institute of Culture in Shanghai Paolo Sabbatini. The film, which shortly will have also an English version, is available online at the CNTV website: http://jishi.cntv.cn/yanzhonghuashu/videopage/index.shtml (ap).
EUROPE: Document on Refugees at Europe's Borders
In its latest report, Safe and Secure: How do Refugees Experience Europe's Borders?, JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) finds ample evidence that European governments actively hinder refugees' arrivals. JRS field offices confirm that these deplorable practices are not limited to Europe; they are rapidly becoming the norm throughout Asia and Africa. The document was published on the 8th December on the occasion of the commemoration, and on the10th December in Brussels, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The JRS urges states to respond swiftly to all migrants and refugees in distress at sea and offer all those are apprehended, including at land borders, access to procedures to determine whether they are in need of international protection; and end the practice of forcibly removing migrants to third countries where their human rights cannot be effectively protected. "Sixty years after the formal adoption of the 1951 United Nations refugee convention, many governments are still inventing new excuses to justify the closure of their borders to asylum seekers instead of working to find durable solutions to forced displacement. This approach leads to tremendous human suffering while ignoring the universal obligation to protect the fundamental human rights of forced migrants," said JRS International Director, Peter Balleis SJ. You can find the full text in: www.jrs.net.
ITALY: Boškovic Remembered in Rome
Rome too recalled the 3rd centenary of the death of Ruggero Boškovic, the Croatian Jesuit who was also a scientist, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and diplomatic. On the 10th of December an International Scientific Symposium was held at the Pontifical Gregorian University, together with a commemorative exhibition which will remain open until December 22nd. This was organized with the collaboration of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Society of Jesus in Zagreb and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Croatian Republic. On the 4th of June, during his visit to Croatia, the Pope Benedict XVI declared: "(Boškovic)... plays very well the happy marriage between faith and science, which stimulates each other in a search open, diversified and capable of summary at the same time... we pay tribute to the illustrious Croatian, but also to the authentic Jesuit."
MIDDLE EAST: An Immersion Experience in the Muslim World
On November 21st Fr. Victor Assouad, Provincial of Near East, wrote a letter in which, among other things, he says: "Among the major transformations in our world, the resurgence of vocal Islam and of the Muslim world figures significantly. This resurgence affects our nations and Provinces and requires a better understanding of the Arab world and Islam, so that an honest and worthwhile dialogue can be established which seeks to go beyond prejudices and media manipulation of all types. The Society of Jesus has communities and apostolates in most of the nations of the Middle East (Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Jordan, and Algeria). This presence which seeks to support the Christian minorities in the region (in particular the Eastern churches which have remained Christian communities since the first century), also works to develop an open dialogue with Muslims as an integrated part of its mission. This dialogue takes many forms: dialogue in daily life, dialogue about social and political development, as well as dialogue about religion and the spiritual life. Today, many provinces of the Society of Jesus throughout the world are trying to form Jesuits capable of working with the phenomenon of the emergence of Islam and Muslims in nations where Islam is a new presence as well as those where it has had a long presence. This formation happens, we believe, through a good understanding of the Arabic language which is the vehicle to Muslim culture." After this observation Fr. Victor makes a concrete proposal: "That is why, the Province of the Near East is offering to interested scholastics - with the approval of their Superior - an initial, month-long, immersion experience with the Arab-Muslim world during Summer 2012. This experience will take place from July 4, 2012 to August 4, 2012. It will begin and end in Lebanon but it will include, in principle, visits to Syria and Jordan." For any information, please write to Daniel Corrou S.J: email@example.com.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: From Australia, A Help for Education
Nearly five years after St Ignatius Parish Toowong in Queensland (Australia) began its support for the Vagiput Unity School Project in Papua New Guinea, the latter will finally become a registered government-supported school in 2012. This will allow more children from the surrounding villages to attend the full eight years of primary school. St Ignatius Parish Toowong first supported the project in 2007 by sending books and other useful items. In recent years, they raised money to sponsor students for further schooling and for the school's many needs. The partnership between St. Ignatius Parish Toowong and Vagiput Unity School can be traced to the hard work of Ray and Monica Otto and illustrates a personal response that was soon shared by parishioners and other organizations towards a community which Mr Otto described as 'a forgotten people'. Today, the school has the best equipped primary school library in Papua New Guinea. Mr Otto expressed, 'Our Toowong parishioners have played an important part in this success. Words cannot describe what this means to these children who are now able to attend school.' For more information see: http://www.parishes.bne.catholic.net.au/toowong/.
PORTUGAL: Journey to the Unknown Tibet
On Sunday, November 20, was debut of the film "Journey to the Roof of the World - Tibet Unknown" on the Portuguese television (RTP), for the first four episodes of the documentary series based on the book written by freelance journalist, photographer and researcher of the History of Portuguese Expansion, Joaquím Magalhães Castro. About four hours summarize 80 hours of recordings made in Tibet. The series, broadcasted on Sundays, takes us through the routes taken by the Portuguese Jesuits, including Bento de Goes and Antonio de Andrade 500 years ago - a journey that would never be repeated. The phrase that sums up this epic is as follows: "In the wake of the epic of the Portuguese Jesuits, who were the true revealing of the mysteries of the Himalayas..." The author stated that he had a special taste to disclose themes and characters linked to the Portuguese Expansion that are little known, as there is a preconceived idea that the Portuguese Expansion was limited to coastal areas of continents, which is not true. And this epic of the Jesuits in the Himalayas is a proof.
RUSSIA: Iñigo Centre in Novosibirsk
On the 8th of November, Iñigo Cultural Centre and Library was inaugurated in the newly blessed building of the Novosibirsk Catholic Diocese, in Siberia. The mission of the center is to participate in the cultural life of the city by promoting dialogue and action. Through its educational and spiritual resources, the Jesuits in the town hope to build contacts with the academic and cultural organizations in Novosibirsk. Visitors can consult the well-equipped philosophical and theological library in various languages. Fr Josef Macha of the German Province of the Society of Jesus built up this unique library through the generous donations from the Jesuits and their houses and institutions across Europe. You may find more about the center at www.inigo.ru. Fr Tomás García-Huidobro from the Chile Province is its director, and welcomes your collaboration.
SPAIN: Online Degree from the University of Deusto
The Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See approved the plan submitted by the University of Deusto to teach Religious Sciences online from the academic year 2011-2012. This course of the Faculty of Theology enables to obtain a university degree which allows the teaching of religion in primary, secondary and high school. The University of Deusto, directed by the Society of Jesus, has 150 students enrolled in the three-year course on Religious Sciences. The centre launched a multimedia platform that allows the development of the courses. The program, in addition to online teaching, includes lectures, tutorials and personal work. "The students are mostly people who work and want to get a degree to teach religion," says Vicente Vide, dean of the Faculty of Theology. According to Mr. Vide, the approval received for this course is "a recognition for the innovation realized by the Faculty of Theology, which was much appreciated by the Vatican and it is part of the effort that the University of Deusto is making to adapt its skills to the Bologna process" (a process of international reform of higher education systems which aims to achieve an European area of higher education, ndr). And, according to Mr. Vide, it reflects the view of the Holy See towards new technologies.
SPAIN: Award to Jesuit Jesús María Alemany
On December 15th the XIII Award for Human Rights 2011 in the category "people" has been assigned to the Spanish Jesuit, Jesús María Alemany. The prize is assigned by the General Council of Spanish Attorney which includes around 166,000 lawyers. Fr. Alemany, who is presently the director of Fundación Seminario de Investigación para la Paz in Saragossa, is 72 years old. The prize was awarded to him "for having dedicated his life to promote education and respect for human rights and the culture of peace through the Centro Pignatelli and the Foundation he presides." His work as a teacher and researcher has also covered border issues on the relationships between theology and society, culture and justice, as well as the analysis of international relations in the field of culture and peace. He has published also a dozen of works on these issues.
Signposting the Mormons. The Mormons are under particular scrutiny in the USA because one of them, Mitt Romney, has declared an interest in the Presidency. There was a time when they were less acceptable. In 1838 Governor Boggs of Missouri decreed: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace." As they were hounded from state to state, seeking a place where they could live in peace, they sought advice from Jean Pierre DeSmet SJ, the noted explorer of the American west. His description of the magnificent Great Salt Lake valley pleased them greatly. So Salt Lake City became to Mormons what Rome is to Catholics, and Jesuit de Smet stands there among the founders' statues.
Jesuit Troika? Readers will have noticed one sign of hope on the European scene, a unity of purpose among three of Europe's leaders: Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council; Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank; and Mario Monti, the new Prime Minister of Italy. In a recent speech van Rompuy reminded the listeners that all the three were educated by the Jesuits: "My two technocrat colleagues share with me an idea of a humane market economy, an area where I have always dwelled." They share the global economic vision of Pope Benedict's encyclical: Caritas in Veritate. The fact that the Spaniards have just elected another Jesuit alumnus, Mariano Rajoy, as their leader, is stirring the lunatic fringe to talk of a Jesuit take-over of Europe - whatever that means. (AMDG Express).
Wishing all our friends and readers a Merry Christmas
and a New Year filled with joy and peace,
The Press and Information Office reports that the next Electronic Bulletin
will appear around the middle of January 2012.
In February it will resume its regularity.