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Vol. XIV, N. 16 6 September 2010
Trip to Sweden. Father General was in Sweden from the 3rd to the 5th of September to visit and officially inaugurate the Newman Institute in Uppsala. The Institute, which just opened and has been renown by the State, is the first and only educational institute at university level run by Catholics in this country since the time of the protestant Reformation. It provides an opportunity for students to obtain a diploma in philosophy and theology. The Institute also constitutes a special point of contact giving students both a place of spiritual deepening and supplying meeting places for cultural dialogue in a country where Catholics represents only 2% of the whole population. On the eve of the inauguration, Father General met with a group of collaborators and distinguished professors for an exchange on the themes of atheism and secularization. On September 4, after the Mass in which Father General gave the homily, the inauguration took place, with many representatives of Swedish public life together with the Ministers of Higher Education, including the Mayor of Uppsala. On Sunday, September 5, Father General met the Jesuits working in Stockholm. During Mass at St. Eugene Parish he preached the homily and afterward met with our brethren with talks about their pastoral work in Sweden.
We believe our news audience will enjoy this article from Radio Vatican News on 4 September. Reported by Angela Ambrogetti, this is an interview with Father Adolfo Nicolás.
"Freedom of conscience is achieved through the pursuit of truth. This reflection of the Jesuit Superior General, Father Adolfo Nicolás, to the participants at the Mass this morning, after which was inaugurated the University Newman Institute. For the first time in 500 years, a Catholic university has been recognized by the Swedish State. Philosophy and theology, this are the main faculties, but also Scandinavian and European art and culture. The Newman Institute has a broad outlook on the whole of Swedish society, and in Uppsala, in particular, as it opens the academic year. This inauguration has a very profound and important meaning for the Scandinavian people, the Superior General spoke in his homily, referring also to the difficulty of pursuing the truth and following ones conscience in the footsteps of love of God just as Cardinal Newman did, and who, this coming September 19th, will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI."
Q. There was, therefore, in the heart of the homily, the subject of the search for truth...
A. We must always seek the truth and we must go against prejudice, against everything that people call into question, taking as premises the questions of the weaker or the poorer, because the allegations are based on general opinions, on superficial judgments, that are not always accurate. Therefore, the search for truth will always need to confront those who are comfortable. If now there are no difficulties - because we see that there is a large endorsement by the authorities - we will know the difficulties when confronted with the truth. This always happens: it happened to Jesus, to St. Paul, and to us.
Q. After 500 years the Catholic Church has a university recognized by the State in a protestant country. So, what does this mean?
A. For me this is a testimony to the country, that it is more open to pluralism, not just something we accept because there is no other remedy, but something that is accepted as a positive chance for one to offer input. The possibility is that migrants are not only workers, but are men and women who also think in different ways and have a different tradition. I met a female Lutheran Pastor, and she told me that groups with Ignatian spirituality are growing like mushrooms in Sweden and this is extremely modern, this is what people are looking for. The treasures of the Church are treasures that sometimes become hidden and then I think back at Saint Ignatius founding a very deep spiritual tradition that has been able to take root and this system now is being considered here. I believe that this is a very important step.
Q. So Ignatius and Newman together provide a strong message ...
A. Yes, Newman was not afraid to confront the paradoxes and difficulties and found a thread into the development of dogma and truth that has contributed to Catholic theology, likewise St. Ignatius and has contributed, through a internal spiritual process a path to discover that the Kingdom of God is always greater than us. And this was already part of the patrimony of the Catholic Church, St. Augustine and the great theologians have already proclaimed this, but the mystic has the talent to make this a spiritual journey. It is fit to rediscover in the history of the Church these hidden treasures, and I believe that in Sweden it is a good time for the acceptance of plurality of cultures and the plurality of collaboration among religious.
Floods in Pakistan. Following the tremendous floods which affected Pakistan, Father General sent 12,800 US$ as a help to assist people suffering from the disaster. On August 22, representing the Superior of the Jesuit Mission, Father Jacob Fernando sent a message from Lahore to Father Nicolás: "Thanks for your message and your gift. Yesterday we had a meeting with the local religious superiors here in Loyola Hall to discuss the flood situation in the country. Out of twenty, fifteen superiors or their representatives attended the meetings. We formed a steering committee. There are five members who will be coordinating our work. We will be working in two phases. The first phase is to give emergency help of food, clothes and medicines. The second phase will concentrate on building houses. Most of the affected areas are difficult to reach at present. Some of the congregations have communities in the affected areas and they are already helping the people. Our emergency relief help will go through these communities. The group has chosen three areas to help immediately. In Multan, the Dominican Fathers will help us. In Jhang, the Sisters of Jesus and Mary and the Dominican Sisters of Malta will guide us, and in Khushpur, the Dominican Sisters will help us. We will be in touch with you."
From the Curia
- From the 6th to the 8th of September the Counsellors for interreligious dialogue and ecumenism are meeting at the Curia. This is the first meeting after the appointments made by Father General this past May. They will discuss, together with Father General, the situation of the dialogue between Catholic and other Churches and religions. At the Vatican they will meet the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity among Christians. They will examine the different activities of the Society in the various fields of dialogue and probably they will offer to Father General their advice on the matter.
- From the 16th to the 18th of September the Juridical Commission will meet at the Curia. Its' duty is to examine reorganization of Provinces along the lines of Decree 5, n. 26 of the 35th General Congregation which urged Father General "to commission a process of reflection on Provinces and Province structures which will lead to practical proposals for adapting this aspect of our governance to today's realities". The commission will be presided over by Fr. Thomas Smolich, from the California Province and president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference.
- General Congregation 35 provided a stimulus for international networking as an apostolic instrument. Following the call to develop "advocacy links of mutual support" (D 3, no. 28-29), a few international advocacy networks have started functioning and are at different stages of development. The Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat has supported, and continues to support, the establishment of these advocacy networks. Father General has endorsed this process, as well as a Common Plan of Action formulated to help the leaders of these networks consolidate the process over the next two years. The networks have been encouraged to continue clarifying the lines of accountability with their respective superiors, and to maintain the principle of subsidiarity.
The Pope has appointed Slovak Jesuit Fr. Ján Ďačok theologian of the Apostolic Penitenzieria. Father Ďačok was born on August 6, 1955, and for some years he worked as a medical doctor. He entered the Society in 1981, and was ordained a priest in 1990. After having been Provincial of the Slovak Province, at the moment he is professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Fr. General has appointed:
- Father Ron Anton, of the Province of Maryland, as Secretary ad interim of Higher Education. His main function will be to implement the initiatives considered in Mexico and to serve as the one dedicated to initiating these tasks. He is taking the place of Father Paul Locatelli who died on April 12. Father Anton has extensive experience in university administration, in several countries, especially in the United States and China. He was born on 1948, joined the Society of Jesus in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He has began a one-year assignment on September 1st.
- Father William J. Currie, of the Province of Japan, Delegate to the World Union of Jesuit Alumni/ae. He takes over this task from Fr. Pierre Salembier, who was appointed for this service on 21 October 2003. In his apostolic experience in the Society, Fr. Currie has served as President of Sophia University (Tokyo) and as formator in the international scholasticate in Manila. Fr. Currie was born on 1935, joined the Society of Jesus in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1967.
From the Provinces
ASIA-PACIFIC: New name for Jesuit Conference's Review.
The new name for the magazine of the Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific - Flame - echoes a major image from General Congregation 35. The magazine was formerly known as Jesuits in East Asia and Oceania. However, with a new name for the Conference, a new identity was needed for the magazine. Produced by Jesuit Communications in Australia on behalf of the conference, Flame is available to Jesuits and Companions throughout the region. It introduces people and works in different Provinces, and also highlights initiatives that cross Province boundaries, involving the Conference as a whole. The change of name picks up the image of the single fire that has many sparks, which recurs through the documents of General Congregation 35, and the challenge that this image highlights for Jesuits: 'The Society of Jesus has carried a flame for nearly five hundred years through innumerable social and cultural circumstances that have challenged it intensely to keep that flame alive and burning. Things are no different today.' Appropriately, the first edition of Flame travels back 500 years to focus on Matteo Ricci, the fourth centenary of whose death has been widely celebrated this year.
BRAZIL: Meeting of Red Claver
The third meeting of CPAL's (Provincial Conference of Latin America) Red Claver was held recently at the Pastoral Center Santa Fe in Campinas, Brazil. Red Claver represents the development offices of the Jesuit Provinces and Regions in Latin America and has the goal to increase solidarity of Latin American societies with the mission of the Society of Jesus. The meeting began with a reflection on CPAL's apostolic priorities which have to encourage all acts of fund raising at all levels. Then it followed with a speech of special guest Christ Lowney, who introduced Jesuit Commons (see below). Among other things discussed by young Jesuits in formation was their role in fundraising to sustain the mission for the next 30 years. In order to develop a positive attitude, it is important that development offices visit formation houses in order to talk about what they are doing. Then the Provincial of Brazil introduced the "Provincial Apostolic Planning Through 2014" and announced the creation of a fundraising office to meet new Brazilian fiscal realities in view of the future Brazilian Province.
SPAIN: Towards one single Province
Father Elías Royón, Provincial of Spain, writes: "The period of examination, reflection and proposals of amendments from the side of all communities and apostolic works on the documents which are the foundation of the integration of today's five Provinces into one single Province (the document on mission and the one on governance) arrived to an end. All Jesuits and lay collaborators participated to this process in subsequent times and their suggestions enriched the texts previously written by the two commissions. We have then now the guidelines for the second phase of the process which foresees to prepare the landing over of the present five provinces to the governance structure of one single Province and putting into practice the single apostolic project. The strategic points in which the governance of the news Province and the development of the project will articulate will be: the revitalization of Jesuit life and mission, the attention to apostolic domains and the creation of apostolic platforms. The transfer strategy to the new Province concentrates on the handing over of the different apostolic sectors to the jurisdiction of the Provincial of Spain. At the end of this transfer it will be asked to Father General to officially erect the new Province." (www.jesuitas.es).
USA: The Jesuit Response to the BP Oil Spill
The New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus has compiled a resource packet in response to the growing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region from the BP oil spill. The packet includes prayers, an oil spill policy brief, and a study on the spill. Loyola University of New Orleans has created a website addressing the numerous efforts being made by its faculty to respond to the disaster and offers a list of faculty experts who can speak authoritatively on oil spill topics (www.norprov.org/news/oilspillresources.pdf). A blog compiling faculty and staff commentary regarding the spill, press releases and news about Loyola's involvement, local and national news headlines and ways to get involved, was established. In addition, Loyola's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has reached out to more than 1,000 affected small businesses in the area, offering them assistance in filing claims, counselling, and support since the spill began. The SBDC's director, Carmen Sunda, recently testified at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on the oil spill's impact on small businesses. In her written testimony, Sunda expressed the far-reaching devastation of the uncertainty of the spill and provided details about how the SBDC is helping affected businesses. Loyola's SBDC has partnered with the Louisiana Small Business Administration (LSBA) to staff twelve Business Recovery Centers in seven parishes across coastal Louisiana.
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
"Matteo Ricci, Jesuit, scientist, humanist in China." In a series of the celebrations for the Fourth Centenary of Matteo Ricci's death, the Gregorian Foundation, of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, contributed with a publication of Matteo Ricci, gesuita, scienziato, umanista in Cina, a precious book edited by Casa Editrice De Luca. The text is by Michela Fontana, a scholar of Matteo Ricci, who already published an interesting biography of the Jesuit some years ago. The volume is intended for a cultured audience, even if the style is narrative and popular. What makes it unique apart from its typographic covering, are the beautifully arranged original reproductions: which include views of China during Ming times, in their richness and elegance, as well as reproductions of Ricci's maps and texts in Chinese language. For more information: www.fondazionelagregoriana.it