Father General on the 50th Anniversary of Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat


I am happy to greet each of you at this time of Advent when, inspired by the word of the Prophets, we open our eyes again to the signs of God’s action in human history and in that way, we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation, that is, the decision of the Triune God, the Trinity, to plant his tent among us and share our Common House In the meditation of the incarnation in the Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to see this broken world, divided for so many reasons, to look through the eyes of the Divinity that decides the incarnation of the Son and starts the mission of freedom to which we are also invited. We join that mission, redeeming and liberating the human person, and this time gives us the courage to be able to do that mission. To deepen our experience of faith in this time of Advent, we need to share it with others and join the struggles for social justice, human rights, ecological balance, overcoming poverty and the promotion of a dignified life and safety for all human beings. It is a call to work in collaboration with others who are looking for the same thing, who share our Christian faith, who are inspired in other religious faiths or because they believe in human beings, they believe in humanity, believe that nature invites us to all be equal and live in Peace in the midst of just relationships. We are invited to do it through dialogue, a dialogue between cultures that is one of our great riches as human beings. We are invited to create an intercultural world that can truly be called a human planet in which we can all live at ease. Next November, 2019, the Secretariat for the social apostolate will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary of commitment to promoting “the faith that does justice.” This journey began in 1969 when Father Pedro Arrupe -then General of the Society of Jesus-, appointed Father Francisco Ivern – our dear Paco -, of Brazil, as his first Apostolic Secretary in the General Curia to assist him and to deepen and organize the entire Company in searching for the promotion of social justice. It’s been 50 years of a mission that has never been easy. Father Arrupe, when he wrote the famous letter from Rio, he previously had said that taking this road would require a high cost. We have had difficult years, but as the same time we have experienced grace abundandtly. The Lord has been generous with us in this process, on on this road. Some of our compańeros and compańeras have given their lives being witnesses of the faith and defending the poor against injustice; others live with the most vulnerable in war zones and in times of devastating conflicts for many nations. Others have lived and live humbly with the poor and for the poor in a tireless effort to, together, improve the lives of all human beings. Throughout this trip, we also recognize how most of the Jesuits and their colleagues, have integrated this social dimension into their identity and their apostolic missio – in all the fields in which we are working: in educational, in formation, in social communication, in the pastoral, and in the ministry of the spiritual exercises. Our spirituality today – it is not understood without that dimension of social, of the search for justice and the ecological balance. As Father Kolvenbach once said: In many places, concern for justice is an essential part of our public image, both in the Church and in society. The most relevant part of this awareness of the social dimension of our mission find concrete form in the experience of our lives and our mission. This calls us to a constant collective discernment in the faith, it also calls us to be more insightful in the social and political analysis, of reflection and renewal that leads to a ever-deep commitment to achieve get a just and better world. The challenges we face today are, perhaps, more critical and complex that those we faced 50 years ago. We can not forget that we are living in a time of historical change for humanity. This change has already been voiced, both by the Second Vatican Council and by Father Pedro Arrupe. Therefore, we can not pour new wine into old wineskins, as we are told by the Gospel. First we need a deeper faith, an experience of God to find him working actively today in this world, in this world of rapid change. We have to keep alive our hope that moves us forward, and trust fully in God. We can not, like Peter in a boat in the middle of the storm, start screaming “we are sinking” and “I found the Lord asleep” and be paralyzed by what is happening. At the same time, we have to use our knowledge, our resources and our energy to seek reconciliation with God, with others, and with nature. Three dimensions that are always united. Commit ourselves deeply to all the dimensions of Reconciliation, which has been the fundamental call from the last two General Congregations to the entire apostolic body of the Society. This fiftieth anniversary is an opportune moment – a kairos as explained to us in the Bible – a historical moment, so that all of us in the Society of Jesus can renew our commitment in the interpellant mission, closely linked to our vocation: that faith that does justice and that seeks reconciliation among us, with nature and with God. This is not a time of renewal only for our institutions and our social centers or members of the social apostolate. It is a moment that should permeate the entire Society of Jesus, all Jesuits and all men and women in this mission that we share with great joy. I’m am very happy with the decision of the Secretariat of Social Justice and Ecology, together with the social delegates of the six Conferences of Major Superiors, for what is planned for next year, that is, to celebrate this jouney that has reached its first 50 years with the call to meet and once again walk together. This is not an time of complacency, to rest in our sucesses or to heal our wounds, but a call in a true Ignatian sense, that we can meet and we discern together, to understand what else we can do to serve God in his sons and daughters at this complex moment of human history. I am also very happy that this planning is carried out at three levels: in the Provinces, in the Conferences of Major Superiors and in the Universal Society … and that we together seek a threefold objective: First of all, to celebrate the faithfulness of God throughout this long journey of promoting the Justice of the Gospel over the past 50 years and to recognize gratefully, deeply gratefully, the innumerable blessings and graces received in each of the Provinces, in the Conferences of Major Superiors, and the whole Society of Jesus through the dedication of so many brothers and sisters in this mission. Secondly, with the aim of creating and strengthening opportunities for collaboration and networking in areas connected with the social and ecological apostolates. There we have great opportunities, and also great challenges so that we can, with what little we have, multiply the effects of our action. Thirdly, with the aim of discerning the road map to implement the Universal Apostolic Priorities. We all know that we have been engaged for almost two years in the formulation of these Universal Apostolic Preferences and that the Holy Father, will give us, by his own hand, what are these great guidelines for our apostolate over the next ten years. I would like to encourage everyone, everyone and every ONE, to join this mission of renewal and commitment to the social and ecological apostolate in each of the provinces and conferences, in all the works, institutions, and apostolates of the Society of Jesus. The last time a community discernment of this magnitude was made was in the 1997 when, with Secretary Father Michael Czerny, we meet in Naples. I was fortunate to also participate in that meeting. At that time, the challenge was to understand and articulate the characteristics of the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus. After 21 years, it is fitting that we gather again to listen with one another to the Spirit with total openness and ask ourselves, what is God asking of us, in this moment, of this dimension of our Jesuit being? And how can we better serve that same God, His people, who are OUR people, the world as it is. I ask, therefore, the Holy Spirit to accompany the team of the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology, and each one of you who contributes to this mission, to make this journey with joy, with depth and breadth, with an open mind, but above all, with an open heart. May it be Him, the Spirit that the Lord promised us, the one who accompanies us day after day, that makes it possible for this year of the fiftieth anniversary of our apostolate of social justice and ecology, to be an occasion to give thanks and renew our commitment. May Mary, our Mother, also accompany us, because She knows how take us to Him, to the Son, to Him who committed himself thoroughly to the liberation of all peoples and all human beings. Thank you and my blessings to this journey

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