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Vol. XIV, N. 13 21 June 2010
From the Curia
Tempo forte. Father General, together with his council, was out of Rome from the 6th to the 10th of June for four days of intense consultation, prayer and reflection on many subjects regarding the governance of the Society. The major theme was a synthetic re-reading of this year's "ex-officio" letters. Consequently, the major part of the time was devoted to reflection on the collaboration with laity and on the nurturing of vocations in the Society today. Other subjects on the agenda were formation in Ignatian spirituality and the evaluation of the work done by the Consulta during this year. "To be gone out of the Curia as a Council," said Fr. Echarte, secretary of the Society, "being in close contact with nature, made the meeting deep, but not wearying. This tempo forte lived up fully to what the tradition of the Curia expects from these special days of consultation: a time of prayer, reflection and discernment as a special help to Father General for his governance."
Task Force on Ecology. The first meeting of the members of the task force on ecology (see Electronic Service n. 7 of 12 April 2010) will be held at the General Curia in Rome from the5th to the 10th of July. The meeting will consist of three parts: first of all a reflection on the responses given by Jesuits to the question of what are the ecological challenges all over the world. Then, there will be a reflection on documents on the subject published by the Society in the last ten years. During the second part the members of the task force will listen to the contribution by some representatives of different religious orders based in Rome and by Jacques Blamont, internationally renowned scientist. The third part will be devoted to discerning the Jesuit commitment for the future and on the kind of practical recommendations to submit to Father General.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Francisco José Ruiz Pérez, new Provincial of Spain. Fr. Ruiz Pérez, who is presently Provincial of Betica, will replace Fr. Elias Royón. Fr. Francisco José was born in 1961, entered the Society of Jesus in 1981 and was ordained a priest in 1994.
- Father Jose Changanacherry, new Provincial of Gujarat (India). Father Jose was born in 1938, entered the Society of Jesus in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1971. Until now he has been instructor for Third Year in Goa. He has been already Provincial of Gujarat from 1989 to 1995.
From the Provinces
ASIA-PACIFIC: Joint communications strategy
The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) at a recent creative communications workshop held in Manila with professionals from different countries of Asia has developed a communications action plan aimed at pooling its communication resources. "We are not isolated units in different parts of the world, but we are part of one common international body. We need to be able to see ourselves in this way so that we can meet the challenges that are coming in a global way... New ideas can be developed and our communication bodies are involved in the production of a wide variety of products, including films, magazines, online journals and websites," said Fr. Mark Raper, President of JCAP. It is important to remain relevant in the media world because with the prevailing focus on physical appearance people are no longer interested in their spiritual needs. At the workshop the importance of communications training during formation was also discussed, to ensure that Jesuits are equipped with communications skills suitable to a range of ministries.
AUSTRIA: Night of the open churches
This year the "Night of the open churches" took place for the second time in Austria and for the sixth time in Vienna on May 28. The Jesuits have also participated with various events in and near different Jesuit churches: in Graz visitors were welcomed at the John Ogilvie Haus, while in Innsbruck the renovated crypt was opened for visitors and a saxophone band played. The program ended with the Eucharist. In Linz and Steyr the agenda contemplated also musical programs with pieces by Bach, Händel and Mozart. In Linz there was also a lecture on Matteo Ricci and inculturation. In Vienna apart from a guided tour through the church (a master piece of Andrea Pozzo S.J.) and a presentation of the mission work of St. Paul, two Jesuits talked about what is important for the Society today and what Jesuit life looks like.
BURUNDI: A clinic against AIDS
Service Yezu Mwiza (SYM), a Jesuit programme for AIDS care and HIV prevention in Burundi, has inaugurated a small clinic on 12 June. The clinic represents a significant milestone for SYM: recognition, earlier in the year, as a centre for the distribution of antiretroviral therapy (ART). "We give thanks to God for this success, which will allow those we serve, most of whom are very poor, to save the money they would have spent on transport to collect their medication from other centres and hospitals in or around the town," says Fr Désiré Yamuremye SJ, SYM Director. "Given our strategy to bring services to the people by going to parishes or nearby health centres, our doctors and nurses will at last be able to distribute ARVs to those who need them. This has always been our target and our beneficiaries are very happy". The aim is to offer holistic care: medical, psychosocial, nutritional, micro-credit for income-generating activities. Children benefit from educational and other support. The opening of the clinic has been possible thanks to cooperation between AJAN, the Jesuit Region, the local Jesuit AIDS ministry, and the generosity of benefactors in Canada and Holland.
COLOMBIA: More death threats
On the 3rd of June Fathers Peter Balleis, international director of JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), Alfredo Infante, JRS director for Latin America and Caribbean and John Jairo Montoya, JRS director for Colombia, issued a communiqué in which they asked the Colombian government to investigate some events and to offer protection to organizations and people who suffered intimidations from the Comando Conjunto de Limpieza. Among other things the communiqué affirms: "On the 26th of May 2010 many organizations of displaced persons and defenders of human rights, among them the JRS of Barrancabermeja (Colombia) received death threats through personal and institutional e-mails... We ask the Colombian government for quick and effective justice and clarity about what has happened as well as protection for organizations and threatened people." The communiqué ends assuring that JRS will continue to work on the side of the population by reaching for peace through the development of dialogue and respect for human rights. CINEP, the Colombian Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular also issued a communiqué regarding the same threats. And, the Bishop of Barrancabermeja joined the protest with a communiqué in which he showed solidarity with Jesuit fathers and their collaborators.
EUROPE: Effects of detention in European Centers for migrants
23 countries of the European Union commissioned a study to investigate the effect of detention on those in migrant centers, especially on women and children. According to Sir, the news agency of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the study, facilitated by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), was submitted on the 8th of June to Brussels. The study, "To become vulnerable during detention" analyzed over 18 months the consequences of compulsion and deprivation of freedom at the psychological and sanitary level, on the life of the asylum seekers and migrants confined in the centers scattered all over Europe. The results of this research, says the JRS, show that "young women, children and people detained for more than three months suffer from a severe form of stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and loss of weight."
INDIA: Consultation for food security
Some 100 participants attended a June 5-6 consultation organized by the Delhi-based Jesuit Indian Social Institute. Participants called on the Indian government to make food available, accessible and affordable "at all times in all circumstances". Saying they opposed "the unhealthy use of fertile agricultural land" participants also demanded that the government promote agricultural sector growth. "Everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and to receive a required-level of nutrition", a consultation statement said. The draft bill defines food security as a "situation that exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." Father M. K.George, ISI director, said he hoped that the consultation would launch an intensified campaign for a "just and humane act."
INDONESIA: Threats to national character
Rampant consumerism and religious extremism pose a dual threat to Indonesia's national character; Father Franz Magnis-Suseno of Jakarta's Driyarkara School of Philosophy warned speaking to about 80 participants at a June 2 symposium in Jakarta organized by the Democratic National, an organization dedicated to creating integral freedom in Indonesia. "Narrow-minded religious extremism has also emerged today. This also threatens society," he said underlying that the national character needs basic values which are already contained in the Pancasila (five principles) enshrined in the 1945 Constitution, and that calls for a belief in one God, a just and civilized society, national unity, consensus-led democracy and justice for all. Indonesian people need openness and tolerance, Father Suseno said. "These exist in Indonesia. But they are being threatened by fanaticism and religious and ethnic narrow-mindedness. We must uphold our basic values since they unite us." And he urged Indonesians to resist the threats and to learn to accept ethnic and religious differences.
LATIN AMERICA: Message from the meeting of Major Superiors
The XX meeting of Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus in Latin America was held in Guatemala at the end of May. At the end of the meeting the participants sent a message "to our Jesuit brethren and those with whom we collaborate in the apostolic service to the mission." After mentioning the goal of the meeting, that is: "to build together our Common Apostolic Project", the superiors say: "in a climate of prayer, discernment and union of souls we have selected six priorities for our common apostolic work...The aim is to fix the options we, as Latin American, collectively want to stress and in this way to collaborate in the process of reflection and apostolic planning that we have in every Province. Together in this work we have listened to the human tragedies of Haiti and Chile...Thinking of the victims and the work the Society of Jesus may develop in these circumstances, we have commissioned the presidency of CPAL (Conference of Jesuit Provincial of Latin America) to elaborate a protocol to face emergency situations." After mentioning other moments and situations lived during the meeting, the Provincials end: "through the priorities we have taken up, we ask our Lord to help us proclaim of spiritual richness as well as be its heirs."
USA: A statement of California Province
The California Province of the Jesuits has published a statement declaring solidarity with migrants in opposing the new anti-migrant law that was passed in the state of Arizona (SB 1070) http://www.jesuitscalifornia.org/Document.Doc?id=436). Another statement condemning the law has been published by the Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJM) of North and Central America. Read the statement here (in Spanish): http://www.sjweb.info/sjs/articles/documents.cfm?LangTop=3. In addition, the students at a Jesuit school in Arizona, Brophy College Prep have been very active since the passing of SB 1070. The school's office of Faith and Justice organized the students to take several trips to the (Arizona) Capitol to lobby. Students made signs and stood along with other Arizonans who opposed SB 1070. Headlines 2010/05.
The 12th Summer School of the Specola is under way from the 30th of May to the 25th of June. The 27 participants come from from 24 countries. For them this is an occasion to deepen their knowledge of an illuminating theme in modern astrophysics and observational cosmology: the chemistry of the universe. The course will alternate theoretical lessons and laboratory exercises, in which the students will test themselves as "creators" of theoretical universes toward the realization of evolutionary models of the chemistry of the universe. The goal of this biennial initiative of the Specola Vaticana is to offer to a group of deserving students, at the end of their university studies, a privileged opportunity to deepen some topics of their astronomical studies and to weave professional friendships with professors and students of an international sphere. It is worth noting that, among the criteria for the selection of candidates, the Observatory favours students coming from developing countries, and that, for many, it is their first opportunity to participate in international courses. This year, the professors are former students of the Observatory's summer courses.
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Circulating exposition. Last months the Jesuit Centre Sèvres in Paris hosted an exhibition with twenty panels illustrating the scientific contributions of Fr. Matteo Ricci to cartography, astronomy and mathematics and the welcome they received in Ming China (the imperial dynasty of Ricci's time). The exposition underlined that it was an encounter of two major traditions, rich and complex, in a specific time in history, the end of XVI and the beginning of XVII century.
Rome: A new stamp. The Pontifical Gregorian University promoted at the Mail Bureau of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta the printing of a commemorative stamp devoted to its distinguished "alumni" Father Matteo Ricci, S.J. on the occasion of the 4th centenary of his death. The stamp, issued on the 30th of April 2010, for the value of 2,50 euro, with a circulation of twelve thousand specimens (every sheet contains 12 stamps), reproduces the classical painting by Emmanuel Yu Wen-Hui, kept in Rome at the Gesù Church. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has the international right to issue stamps, but these are not accepted for mail service for the most part of the countries of the world.
Portrait of a Jesuit-Matteo Ricci. Recently, the Macau Ricci Institute (MRI) has published a short biography of Fr. Matteo Ricci, based on a collection of essays presented in the Institute respectively by Fr. Gianni Criveller and Dr. César Guillén Nuñez. This modest publication which would like somehow to contribute to the worldwide commemoration of Matteo Ricci's death in Beijing in 1610, intends to inaugurate a series of MRI studies related to the Jesuit history in the old China mission. It will be published under the name of Jesuítas Publication Series and will introduce to the readers such outstanding figures of the past as Alessandro Valignano, Melchior Carneiro and Tomás Pereira. Each title of the series will be available in English and Chinese simplify versions. The book is available from: email@example.com
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A podcast with Fr. Paterne Mombe, a Jesuit from West Africa who has been appointed coordinator of AJAN, the African Jesuit Centre in the struggle against AIDS, in Nairobi.