Thursday, November 7, 2019

Greetings for the Secretariat of the Company of Jesus

This morning, at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the Meeting of the Jesuits' Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology.  The meeting is taking place in Rome, at the Jesuit General Curia, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of this Secretariat.  The theme for this gathering is: A path of justice and reconciliation: 50 years and beyond.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
to members of the Jesuit Secretariat
for Social Justice and Ecology

Good morning and welcome.

The Society of Jesus, we all know, from the beginning have been called to the service of the poor, a vocation that Saint Ignatius incorporated into the Formula of 1550. The Jesuits would dedicate themselves to the defence and propagation of the faith and for the benefit of the souls in Christian life and doctrine, as well as reconcile the unsaved, help mercifully and serve those found in prisons or hospitals, and exercise all other charities (Formula of Institution, 21 July 1550, approved and confirmed by Pope Julius III).  That was not a declaration of intentions, but a way of life which they had already experienced, one that filled them with consolation and confirmed the fact that they felt sent by the Lord.

That original Ignatian tradition has continued to this day. Father Arrupe intended to strengthen it. At the base of his vocation was the experience of contact with human pain. Years later he would write: I saw (God) so close to those who suffer, those who cry, those who are shipwrecked in this life of helplessness, that the burning desire to imitate him in this voluntary proximity to waste was ignited in me of the world, which society despises (This Amazing Japan, Memories of Father Arrupe, 4th Edition, Messenger, Bilbao, 1991, p. 19).

Today we use the word to the discarded ones, no?  And we speak of the culture of the discarded, the great majority of people who are left behind on the wayside. For me, from this text, what touches me deeply is the origin of where it comes from. It comes from prayer, right? Arrupe was a man of prayer, a man who fought with God every day, and that is where this passion was born. Father Pedro always believed that the service of faith and the promotion of justice could not be separated: they were radically united. For him, all the ministries of the Company of Jesus had to respond, at the same time, to the challenge of proclaiming the faith and promoting justice. What until then had been a commission for some Jesuits, should become everyone's concern.

The poor, a place of meeting with the Lord

Each year, the liturgy invites us to contemplate God in the image of an excluded child, who came to his own, but who was rejected (cf Jn 1:11). According to Saint Ignatius, an ancilla - a person, a young woman who serves - attends the Holy Family (cf Spiritual Exercises, 111, 114).  Next to her, Ignatius urges us to introduce ourselves too, making me a poor and unworthy slave, contemplating them and serving them in their needs, as if I were present. This is not poetry or publicity, Ignatius felt it. And he lived it.

This active contemplation of God, of God who was excluded, helps us discover the beauty of every marginalized person. No other service can substitute for valuing the poor in their own goodness, with their way of being, with their culture, with their way of living faith (Evangelii Gaudium, 199).

In the poor, you have found a privileged place of encounter with Christ. That is to say, a precious gift in the life of the follower of Jesus: to receive the gift of meeting him among victims and the impoverished.

The encounter with Christ among his favorites reflects our faith. This happened in the case of the Company, whose experience with the latter has deepened and strengthened the faith. Our faith has become more paschal, more compassionate, more tender, more evangelical in its simplicity 
(34th General Congregation of the Company of Jesus, 1995, d. 2, n. 1) especially in the service of the poor.

You have experienced a true personal and corporate transformation in the quiet contemplation of the pain of your brothers. A transformation that is a conversion, a return to looking at the face of the crucified, who invites us every day to remain with him and to lower him from the cross.

Don't stop offering this familiarity with the vulnerable. Our broken and divided world needs to build bridges so that the human encounter allows each one to discover in the little ones the beautiful face of the brother, in whom we recognize ourselves, and whose presence, even without words, demands and needs our care and our solidarity.

To follow Jesus among the crucified

Jesus had nowhere to rest his head (Mt 8:20); instead, his duty was to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom and to cure all kinds of diseases and ailments (Mt 4:23). Today his Spirit, alive among us, moves us to follow him in the service of the crucified of our time.

At present, there are many situations of injustice and human pain that we all know well. "Perhaps we can talk about a third war fought in pieces, through crimes, massacres, destruction (Homily, Redipuglia, September 13, 2014). Human trafficking exists, expressions of xenophobia abound and the selfish pursuit of national interest, inequality between countries and within them grows without finding a remedy. With a progression that I would say is geometric.

On the other hand, we have never mistreated and hurt our common home as we have in the last two centuries (Laudato si ', 53). Not surprisingly, once again the most serious effects of all environmental aggressions are suffered by the poorest people (LS, 48).

Following Jesus in these circumstances involves a set of tasks. It starts by accompanying victims, contemplating in them the face of our crucified Lord. It continues in paying attention to the human needs that arise, many times innumerable and inescapable as a whole. Today it is also necessary to reflect on the reality of the world in order to unmask their ills, to discover the best answers, to generate the apostolic creativity and depth that Father Nicolás so much desired for the Company of Jesus.

But our answer cannot stop there. We need a true cultural revolution (LS, 114), a transformation of our collective gaze, our attitudes, our ways of perceiving ourselves and placing ourselves before the world. Finally, social evils are often confiscated in the structures of a society, with a potential for dissolution and death (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 59). Hence the importance of the slow work of transforming structures, through participation in public dialogue, where decisions are made that affect the lives of the latter (cf Meeting with the popular movements in Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, July 9, 2015).

Some of you and many other Jesuits who preceded you launched works of service to the poor, works of education, attention paid to refugees, defence of human rights or social services in many fields. Continue this creative effort, always in need of renewal in a society of accelerated changes. Help the Church with the discernment that we also have to make today about our apostolates. Do not stop collaborating with each other and with other church and civil organizations to have a word in defence of the most disadvantaged in this increasingly globalized world. Spherical globalization cancels cultural identities, religious identities, personal identities, everything is the same. Globalization must be polyhedral, uniting, but at the same time allowing each person to retain his own peculiarity.

In the pain of our brothers and our threatened common home, we need to contemplate the mystery of the crucified in order to be able to give our lives until the end, as many fellow Jesuits have done since 1975. We celebrate this year the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Jesuits of the Central American University of El Salvador, which caused so much pain to Father Kolvenbach and moved him to ask for the help of Jesuits throughout the Company. Many responded generously. The life and death of the martyrs are an encouragement to our service to the extreme.

And open paths to hope

Our world is in need of transformations that protect lives that are threatened and defend the weak. We look for needed changes and many times we don't know what they should be, or we don't feel able to address them, they surpass us.

At the frontiers of exclusion we run the risk of despair if we only attend to human logic. The striking thing is that many times the victims of this world should not get carried away by the temptation to give up, but should rather grow in trust and cradle hope.

All of us are witnesses to the fact that "the humblest, the exploited, the poor and the excluded can and do a lot ... When the poor organize they become true social poets: job creators, home builders, food producers, about everything for those discarded by the world market (Meeting with the popular movements in Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, July 9, 2015).

Is the social apostolate to solve problems? Yes, but above all to promote processes and encourage hope: processes that help people and communities to grow, that lead them to be aware of their rights, to deploy their capacities and to create their own future.

You work for the true Christian hope, which seeks the eschatological Kingdom, (and that) always generates history (Evangelii Gaudium, 181). Share your hope wherever you are, to encourage, comfort and revive. Please open the future, or to use the expression of a current writer, frequent the future. Open a future, create possibilities, generate alternatives, help to think and act in a different way. Take care of your daily relationship with the risen and glorious Christ, and be charity workers and sowers of hope. Walk while singing and crying, so that the struggles and concerns for the lives of the latter and for the threatened creation do not take away the joy of hope (cf Laudato si’, 244).

I would like to end with an image - parish priests distribute stamps, so that people can take an image to their homes, an image of our family. The will of Arrupe, there in Thailand, in the refugee camp, with the discarded ones, with everything that man had of sympathy, was to suffer with those people, with those Jesuits who were opening the gap at that time in all this apostolate. He asks you one thing: don't stop praying. It was his will. He left Thailand that day and had his stroke on the plane. May this stamp, may this image, always accompany you. Thank you.
Texto original en español

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