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Vol. XV, no. 5 14 March 2011
To the whole Society
Changes in the Central Government of the Society
Dear Brothers in Christ,
When I was elected General, the Society of Jesus gave me as support a team of persons who form what is traditionally called the General Curia. I continue to appreciate and admire the generosity and efficiency of this team, and the important help they offer me in my mission as Superior General.
At the same time, the 35th General Congregation gave me a series of orientations for the governance of the Society, and asked for an "integral revision of the Central Government" (Decree 5, n. 9). During the past months I have had the opportunity to share with the Major Superiors and other Jesuits of different Conferences the main lines of what I am doing in terms of responding to this mandate of GC35. With this letter, I wish to inform the Society of how we are going about this revision.
Let me state at the outset that the handling of ordinary governance of the Society (matters, for example, such as the appointment of superiors, admission to final vows, dismissals, erection of communities, reports on visitations and finances, etc.) will continue to be handled according to the well-functioning processes that are the fruit of almost 500 years of the Society's experience and wisdom. The changes we are introducing concern primarily our capacity to address issues related to our mission, with the flexibility, depth and creativity required at this moment of history and the life of the Church.
The main changes can be summed up in four points:
1. Restructuring the Secretariats based at the Curia.
2. Instituting a small Commission for Mission in the General Council
3. Creating a Reflection Group in Rome for ongoing reflection
4. Other modifications.
1. With the help of the General Counselors, we are restructuring the Secretariats. The structure that has been in force till now has primarily been organized according to apostolic sectors. Thus, for example, a secretary for social justice supervised the social centers; a secretary for spirituality handled the spirituality centers, and so forth. At present, however, in order to promote our mission better according to the formulation and understanding of recent General Congregations, I have decided to restructure the Secretariats in the following way:
A- There will be three Secretaries ("Core Secretaries", for the time being) whose concerns and responsibilities will respond to important dimensions of our mission that should be present in all apostolic sectors. Thus we will have Secretaries for (1) The Service of Faith, (2) The Promotion of Justice, and (3) Collaboration with Others.
B- Some particular apostolates that affect a great part of the Society's mission and require animation, and coordination will also have a Secretary. At present I am thinking of secondary and basic Education, and higher education and the Intellectual Apostolate. These sectoral secretaries may reside in Rome or be based elsewhere, depending on concrete needs and possibilities.
C- Other areas of mission (for example, inter-religious dialogue, communications, etc) will be supervised and animated primarily through networks. We already have a functioning network for inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue.
2. In order to make the concern for mission more focused and the handling of apostolic concerns more responsive, I am forming a small Commission within the General Council to discuss, discern, and propose matters involving our common mission. This Commission will be formed by the three Core Secretaries, two General Councilors and the General. We will meet weekly and take whatever time is needed for matters under consideration.
3. In order to help me regularly reflect on and understand more deeply different realities concerning our mission, I have formed a group based here in Rome that I have called the "Gregorian Reflection Group" (because we meet in the Gregorian University). Since January of this year, we have had monthly reflection sessions on relevant issues that I invite them to consider. This group is composed of six Jesuits, representing six different disciplines and nationalities, who have generously accepted this additional work in order to help me. The present members of the Group are Frs. Giovanni Cucci (ITA - Culture - Civilta Cattolica), José Funes (ARU - Science, Astronomy - Vatican Observatory), Michael Paul Gallagher (HIB - Theology - Gregorian Univ.), Daniel McDonald (WIS - Sociology - Gregorian Univ.), Theoneste Nkeramihigo (RWB - Philosophy - Gregorian Univ.) and Hans Zollner (GER - Psychology - Gregorian Univ.).
4. Lastly, in the light of the above changes, after consulting the General Council, I have decided that the demands I had been imposing on the two non-resident General Councilors (Frs. Mark Rotsaert and Arturo Sosa) were no longer required. I wish to thank Fr. Rotsaert and Fr. Sosa for their generous and valued service as General Councilors for these past three years. I trust that, although they no longer continue as General Councilors, I will be able to continue to count on their help and advice when needed.
All these changes seek to respond to the ever-present invitation of the Society and our Tradition to keep the goal of our Society before our eyes and to look for the best instruments that will allow us to discern the Will of God and respond generously and effectively to Christ's call to serve with Him in our world of today. The Holy Father has repeatedly reaffirmed that the Church continues to count on us in the important work of Evangelization, which he hopes we will carry out with the depth of reflection and spirituality that the Society has always offered. This is our mission: it is our great joy to be able to contribute, even if in a very small way, to God's redeeming work, and it is our desire to continue to be able to be and do more as servants of Christ's mission.
Allow me to end this letter by thanking very sincerely all those who are now helping me in the governance of the Society. I am full of admiration for the competence of their work and the humble generosity of their dedication. Without them my mission of governance would be greatly handicapped. I ask you, therefore, to pray that the Lord blesses them all abundantly and fills their days with joy and consolation.
Gratefully yours in Our Lord,
Adolfo Nicolás, S.I.
Rome, 25 February 2011