14 The 'Pope Francis Effect' on Jesuits' Priorities - Fr (Dr) John Rose, SJ

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:28 AM ]
The visit of Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to Mumbai, Vasai and Talasari from March 2-5, 2019 will highlight four priorities that he wants Jesuits to take up. The four were confirmed by Pope Francis, and they constitute Universal Apostolic Priorities (UAPs) that Jesuits will commit themselves to over the next ten years. Pope Francis was glad that the UAPs, a ten-page document, were the result of a journey of "dynamic discernment", and not made in a "library or laboratory", and "are in harmony with the present priorities of the Church, as expressed through the ordinary Magisterium of the Pope, of the synods and of the episcopal conferences, above all since 'Evangelium Gaudium,' - the programmatic document for his pontificate published in November 2013."

The Four UAPs are: 1. Promoting Discernment though the use of the Spiritual Exercises; 2. Walking with the Excluded; 3. Journeying with Youth; 4. Caring for the Common Home, the Universe. Each of the world's 15,536 Jesuits, each Jesuit Community spread around in 120 countries, as well as their colleagues in the Mission, are asked to discern how to implement these priorities in their respective areas of work. Each Jesuit Province and Conference of Provincials will implement these preferences in concrete and practical terms. The comments and tweets on Internet confirm that the UAPs are the direct result of the 'Pope Francis effect.'

Responding to these UAPs, the Mumbai Jesuit provincial, Arun D'Souza, SJ, says,"The UAPs are a powerful affirmation of our own Province priorities of 'Fostering Spirituality' and 'Working with the Youth.' The Mumbai Province of the Jesuits is thus energised to make its priorities real through its varied ministries. The UAPs bear the hallmark of the first Jesuit Pope whose desire is to accompany people as they grow into a mature discerning faith, and in the city and districts, we are already engaged in promoting burial in a shroud, using herbal remedies, offering literacy curricula to the children of forced migrants and people in the slums, and conducting MAGIS youth programmes and eco-spirituality retreats. Besides, our institutions have a preferential option for the marginalised and low-income communities. But there is always more we can do, and these priorities call us to prayer and action."

Fr Sosa's Dutch predecessor, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, in 2003, had prioritised ministries in China and Africa, the intellectual apostolate, the Roman Common Houses and among migrants and refugees, and these had the approval of Pope John Paul II. In Oct. 2016, during the 36th General Congregation, the Jesuits asked Fr Sosa to review the preferences and update their specific content, and to develop plans and programmes that could be evaluated. On Feb. 19, 2019, while releasing the UAPs, the Venezuelan-born Fr Sosa noted that 'the novelty' in the process of coming out with these UAPs was that "it involved all Jesuits worldwide and those working with them in apostolic works, including lay women and men, as well as women and men religious from other congregations who cooperate with us in apostolic works." Fr Sosa emphatically affirms that the UAPs are not just our ideas, but they are a mission given by the Church through Pope Francis to the Society of Jesus.