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Vol. XIV, N. 8 22 April 2010
From the Curia
- The death of Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík. Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík died the evening of 16 April after a long illness. Born in Boskovice, Moravia, in 1919, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1940 and studied philosophy and theology at several European universities. He was ordained a priest in 1949 and made final profession in 1958. In 1954 he began teaching patristic and eastern spiritual theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Pontifical Gregorian University and other universities. For more than 30 years he was the spiritual director of the Pontifical Nepomuceno Seminary in Rome. From 1975 to 1989 he was vice-Provincial of the Bohemian Province in exile. In 1984 he was named consultor to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and in 1994 consultor to the Congregation for Oriental Churches. From 1992 he lived and worked at Centro Aletti, a Jesuit center for the study of the Eastern Christianity tradition with special emphasis on its struggles in the contemporary world. In October 2003 he was made a cardinal to honor his study of and service to ecumenical dialogue. He received numerous cultural recognitions from many institutions and many of his writings were translated in various languages. In his writings he dealt mainly with the spirituality of Eastern Christianity. For further information: www.centroaletti.com/ita/persone/01.htm, www.lipaonline.org/autori/ai057.htm English version: www.centroaletti.com/ing/persone/01.htm, www.lipaonline.org/writer/ae057.htm
- On April, 22-24, 2010, Jesuits and colleagues in Catholic, Jesuit higher education from around the world will gather with Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, at the Universidad Iberoamericana, the Jesuit University in Mexico City. Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education, will also address the conference. The title of the conference on Jesuit higher education is: Networking Jesuit Higher Education for the Globalizing World: Shaping the Future for a Humane, Just, Sustainable Globe. Its purpose is to enhance Jesuit higher education globally to better serve students, society and the Church. Topics include: Catholic, Jesuit identity and mission, theology and culture, ecology, and poverty. One outcome is to establish a global network to continue addressing global challenges together via the internet. This will be the third international conference; in 1985 and again in2001 colleagues from Jesuit institutions of higher education from around the world gathered to meet with Father General to improve the content and quality of Jesuit higher education; now the goal is to build better networking capacity.
- Meeting of Social Secretariat. Assistancy and Conference coordinators for the social apostolate will hold their annual meeting at the Curia from the 26th to the 30th of April. They will meet with the leaders of newly formed social networks. The first three days the groups will work separately; the final two days will bring the groups together to prepare a plan of common action for 2010-2011.
- Father General has named Father Jeyaraj Rasiah Provincial of Sri Lanka. Father Jeyaraj was born in 1958, entered the Society of Jesus in 1977 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He is currently Director of East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI), Manila, Philippines.
From the Provinces
AFGHANISTAN: Jesuits Committed to Stay
The persistent attacks on Indians in Kabul and the bloody assassination attempt perpetrated on February 26th which killed 16 people, 7 Indians among them, led the Society of Jesus to discuss if it is possible to remain in Afghanistan. The Indian government closed its operations in several places in the country and many Indian business people and NGOs have left Kabul. But the Jesuits and their collaborator, the primary Catholic group present in Afghanistan, have decided to continue their work and to expand their outreach programs to new areas. "I am convinced the spirit of the Risen Lord is strengthening and guiding our men in this difficult mission", declared Father Edward Mudavassery, responsible for the more than 4,000 Jesuits working in South Asia including those presently serving in Afghanistan, with whom he is in constant contact. "Jesuits are well aware of the security situation there. I have made sure no one stays there under compulsion. Everyone decided voluntarily to lend a hand to improve the situation", he added. Father Kalapura, who works in Herat province with other Jesuits, said the place is a comparatively safer place. "We have not faced any threats yet," he said and added, "but then anything can happen at any time in Afghanistan."
BOLIVIA: Missions of the Society of Jesus in Chiquitos
The Jesuit Missions in the Chiquitos Province of Bolivia are the last ones in South America that remain open. For 300 years they have been places of worship, as well as centers for the spread and defense of the faith in the country. The layout of the mission is always the same: a big square plaza with a cross at the center surrounded by the church with the Jesuit residence, the cemetery and public buildings, indigenous quarters, and warehouses surrounding the plaza. Originally the Chiquito Missions were major missionary establishments of the Society of Jesus in the New World. Their principal function was to give life to settlements indigenous people who had become Catholic. The native peoples were taught the rudimentary elements of the faith as well as receiving instruction in the principles of social and civic life, music, art, painting and carving. The Bolivian Missions, built between 1691 and 1760, have been recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The church architecture is baroque, with expressions of indigenous art included. Its focal points are the mural paintings, wooden sculptures, imposing columns, lovely paintings and gilded altars. The churches were restored in the 1960s to their original beauty. In addition to restoring the buildings more than 5,000 musical scores were also recovered and form the largest collection of indigenous baroque music of South America. The churches host the American Festival of Renaissance Baroque Music, the most important event of its type on the entire continent.
COLOMBIA: Exhibition on the "Reductions" of Paraguay
At the beginning of April, the University of Javier in Bogotá inaugurated an exhibition in honor the famous "Reductions". The occasion was the celebrations for the bicentenary of the indigenous communities set up by the Jesuits in Latin America between 1600 and1700. Las Reducciones del Paraguay, according to Fides agency, is an exhibition that has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation of Colombia, and other associations and institutions, included the Paraguayan Embassy. The "Reductions" in Paraguay were Christian communities born from the desire of missionaries and indigenous people to live an integral Christianity based on a new social, political and industrious model. The exhibition offers visitors the chance to understand how people lived in the "Reductions" and it is a way to recover a portion of the country's historical memory.
HAITI: Local Voices in Rebuilding Effort
The Jesuit community in Haiti has organized a Committee for Reflection and Action (CRAN) composed of Jesuits and members of Haitian civil society who work together on an ongoing basis to accompany the Haitian people, their leaders and the international community in their efforts to rebuild Haiti. According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment led by the World Bank and the United Nations, the earthquake caused a total of $7.8 billion in damages and losses, and to build back the World Bank estimates that Haiti requires at least $ 11.5 billion in commitments. CRAN has issued a document, Strategic Goals and Actions for the Reconstruction of Haiti, prior to the donors meeting in New York. The objective of CRAN is two-fold: 1) to accompany Haitian civil society and to convince political decision makers to act in the real interest of the Haitian population during the reconstruction process; 2) to offer to the people and to civil society an inclusive space, open and non-partisan, for meeting, exchange and reflection so that they may participate effectively in the reconstruction through the development and implementation of a new social direction for Haiti.
ITALY: Jesuits and Astronomy
"The Jesuits and Astronomy" was the subject of the 27th conference on "The Jesuits and History" that took place in Rome, 14 - 17 April 2010, at the Jesuit school, Istituto Massimo. It was an international meeting drawing more than 50 students from Jesuits high schools in Rome, Milan, Naples, Messina, Palermo, Turin, Malaga, Seville, Barcelona, Gdansk, Shkoder (Albania), and Malta. The speakers were students who were assisted and tutored by their teachers. The conference is as an initiative of Father Patti S.J. for Italian secondary students. A number of years ago it was opened to Jesuit schools in Europe; the language of the conference is English. Historically, the Jesuits have been involved in the dialogue between culture and religion. The Jesuit astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, a member of the Vatican Observatory, curator of the Vatican meteorite collection and professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, gave the keynote address of the conference. On this occasion, for the first time ever two globes, one celestial and one terrestrial, constructed in 1671 for the Pope Clement X by the Benedictine monk Carlo Benci, and later sold to prince Camillo Massimo, will be exhibited at the school. These globes have just been restored and will be presented to the public in Rome and to scholars in the autumn.
TOGO: Loyola Hope Centre
The Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL - Loyola Hope Centre) is a social work of the Society of Jesus in Togo, founded and run by the Jesuits of the West Africa Province with the support of AJAN ("African Jesuit AIDS Network"). The mission of the CEL is to accompany and strengthen the capacity of the population where the Centre is based to respond to the pandemic. Key to the services of the CEL is prevention of HIV among youth and families, through awareness, education for life and love, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT). People living with HIV and their families are offered spiritual, psychosocial, nutritional and educational support and their rights are defended through advocacy for good treatment and against stigma and discrimination. All these services are underpinned by research and formation for those involved in this work.
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Matteo Ricci the Innovator. The innovations produced by Matteo Ricci in China may be classified into three categories; the first fundamental and incomparable innovation is the opening up of China to the world: the second includes scientific and technological innovations; the third encompasses philosophical, religious, literary, and artistic innovations. In terms of effectiveness and duration, the first one constituted an event of such incalculable significance that it alone would justify China's eternal gratitude to Li Madou (Matteo Ricci's Chinese name). The second category also produced enduring effects, though different. The third one, which directly concerns the cultural sensitivities of a people, its sense of life, and its affective representations of the world, is the one that met with the greatest resistance and produced the least results (Newsletter of the Promoter Committee for Ricci's celebrations).
Ricci's Exhibition in Shanghai. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Matteo Ricci's death an exhibition opened on April 2nd at the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai. The exhibition, titled Matteo Ricci: An Encounter of Civilizations in Ming China, was organized by Professor Filippo Mignini of the Macerata Institute for relations with the East. "The welcome received in China on the occasion of the Beijing exhibition shows that Matteo Ricci belongs to the world and that his message of peace is still important today", said Giammario Spacca, President of Marche Region during the opening ceremony with representatives of Chinese government. He continued, "Thanks to his lessons about diplomacy, we could create a solid friendship relation between Marche and China, a growing world economic power and a strategic market for our companies. The series of exhibitions we are organizing in China offer us the opportunity to display our specialties, to begin and to reinforce economic relations between Italian and Chinese companies. In this sense the Shanghai event is of great importance" (Newsletter of the Promoter Committee for Ricci's celebrations).
The Jesuit Who Kept His Mouth Closed
Many Jesuits are remembered for their volubility. But there is one who should be remembered for having kept his silence. Anthony Kohlmann, a German Jesuit living in the United States at the beginning of 19th century was involved in a sensational lawsuit. He was responsible for the return of a number of items that had been stolen. The victim of the robbery went to court to force the priest to reveal the name of the thief. The Jesuit refused citing the seal of confession. The courts recognized the principle of the keeping silence under the seal of the confession; this was later sanctioned by law based on the first amendment of the US Constitution that affirms religious liberty.
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A Podcast with Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator (Provincial of East Africa). He speaks about the future of his province with 70% of its members in formation; he describes the visit of Father General to his province several months ago, and about the recently concluded meeting of the African provincials (JESAM) in Rome. To listen, go to: www.sjweb.info and click on: Jesuit Voices.