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Cp70-4 10 July 2012
Press Release n. 04
The day started with the election of the Secretary of the Congregation. Father Francisco Javier Alvarez de los Mozos was elected. The following vote was about when to vote about whether or not to convoke a General Congregation. The choice has been for 13th or 14th.
However, the day's key activity was Father General's talk on De statu Societatis, which sums up the state of the Society of Jesus in the world in terms of fidelity to our Institute. The De statu "is an instrument for discernment. As in the Examen, the point is to come to see, from the perspective of our original vocation and the Institute of the Society, what the Lord is calling us to be and do today for His greater glory and the service of His people". This report "draws not only from my own experience and reflection over these past four years as General, but also, and mostly, from the substantial reports of Province Congregations, and from your helpful and rich reports as Procurators".
The speech then goes on to examine, point by point, how the mandates of GC 35 have been implemented, particularly those regarding 1) the Society's call to greater universality; 2) governance, especially by naming a Commission charged with a process of reflection about provinces and province structures; 3) the central governance of the Society, especially the reorganization of the secretariats; and 4) mission, in answer to the Pope's invitation to go to the "frontiers".
Father Nicolas then dealt with some areas he considered important, namely "our life in the Spirit; our apostolic dynamism; our life together in community; vocation promotion and formation; our relationship with the Church; and finally a word about creativity in the Society".
Given the impossibility of analyzing in depth such a rich and panoramic speech, only a few points are noted here. Regarding life in the Spirit, after having highlighted that "the key for determining the spiritual health of the Society depends on whether Jesuits continue to have the ability to give absolutely everything to the Lord, as Ignatius did and so many after him and so many after him till the present day", Father General indicated four areas that demand more attention: the difficulty of finding spiritual directors; the danger of secularized values that have entered our mentalities; the need to be transformed by the integrating power of our spirituality; and the disordered attachment both to work and to works.
With regard to apostolic dynamism, he highlighted education in particular, mentioning three dimensions of our apostolic work today, namely service to the poor, collaboration with others, and networking between Provinces, within Conferences, and between Conferences. After noting the challenges in these areas, the speech addressed redefining discernment, formation for leadership, and enabling and deepening collaboration among Jesuits and among Jesuits and lay partners.
Regarding community life, after having highlighted that "the overall picture of the state of community life is positive", he pointed out some shadows such as an attitude of individualism that manifests itself in a lack of financial transparency and dependence; in excessive attention to new forms of communication, electronic gadgets and social networking sites; and in tensions caused by generational, ethnic, tribal or racial differences. In view of these concerns, he suggested two challenges for today's community life.
The section on vocation promotion and formation stressed areas where we can do better in this field.
Thinking with the Church, namely our relationship with the Church, is "a dimension of our life that is essential to Ignatius' vision of the Society". After having reminded us about the Formula of the Institute and Pope Benedict XVI's speech to the GC 35 members, Father General concluded that "we are challenged to deepen our pastoral responsibility in the differing and ecclesial contexts where we are ministering".
Finally, creativity in the Society was mentioned within the context of the celebration in 2014 of the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society. He made reference to the March 12, 2011 letter in which he convoked the Congregation of Procurators and invited "Jesuits today to engage in a deeper reflection on the signs of new life and apostolic creativity in both traditional and new ministries in the Society". The speech then analyzed the not always encouraging answers received on this matter.
In concluding Father General expressed his thanks to the Lord "for all the grace He has given to the Society, for all the good He has done for others using us as His imperfect instruments, and for allowing us to continue serving the Church of his Son Jesus Christ".