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    Vol. XIII, N. 19 5 November 2009

    Father General

    Letter to all Major Superiors. In a letter addressed to all Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus, Father General discussed the ex officio letters that arrived during this past year. Because of his explicit request, these letters focused on the assimilation process of the General Congregation by Provinces as well as the initiatives taken in this regard; the letters also reported on the impact of the Congregation. "With this letter", Father Nicolás writes, "I wish to continue the dialogue by sharing with you, in an honest and straightforward manner, some important points that emerged during our reflection. What follows is not a summary of all the correspondence received. Rather, I wish simply to share some lights and shadows for your reflection, to strengthen our hope, and also to challenge us to greater fidelity to our Jesuit spirit and to our service of the Church." The letter focuses on some particular aspects including: the spiritual life, community life, the apostolate, a look to future opportunities, problems, challenges and the reception of GC35. He concludes by saying, "As I come to the end of this letter, I wish to return to the reality of the ex officio letters as an apostolic dialogue between the Society of Jesus and its General. In truth, however, this dialogue is, at its best, a dialogue carried out in the Spirit. Those who wrote and those who read have been seeking to listen to what the Spirit is saying in events, in people, in written words. And so, as I share with you these few points for reflection from the rich material received from hundreds of letters, I trust that you will seek to listen to the voice of the Spirit, present in our humble Society and drawing us forward to a future of more joyful and generous service where we are needed by the Church."


    Visit to Slovenia. Father General will visit Slovenia from the 6th to the 8th of November. He will arrive in Ljubljana on the evening of 6 November and meet with the Dravlje community for dinner. The next day, after courtesy visits to the Archbishop and the Apostolic Nuncio, he will meet the Jesuits of the Slovenian Province at Saint Joseph Spirituality Center. During the afternoon a Eucharistic celebration will take place at Dravlje church to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Province. At that Eucharist, several Jesuits will make solemn profession. Later there will be meetings with Christian Life Communities and the Association of Slovenian Catholic Professors as well as a brief interview with the catholic radio program Ognjisce. He will have dinner that evening with the Province Consultors. To mark this visit the catholic weekly Druzina will publish an interview with Father General. He returns to Rome on Sunday 8 November.

    From the Curia

    Meeting of Socii from East Asia and Oceania (ASO). From the 26th to 29th of October, eleven Socii from the East Asia and Oceania Assistancy met in Rome. This meeting implements a decision made by the Major Superiors of the Jesuit Conference last January 2009 in Manila. The meeting aimed to help the Socii, most of whom are new to their jobs, to better know one another and the General Curia, and to enhance their familiarity with the various administrative and juridical procedures that a Socius has to deal with. Organized by the Regional Assistant and the Regional Secretary of East Asia and Oceania, the program had as its two main resource persons the Secretary of the Society, Father Ignacio Echarte, and the Procurator General, Father Robert Geisinger. Participants came from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia-Singapore, Micronesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.

    From the Provinces

    MALTA: Statement on forced migrants

    During their General Assembly held in Malta from the 18th to 20th of October, the European Jesuit Provincials reflected on various aspects of the tragic reality of refugees, asylum seekers and forced migrants. The Assembly was very aware of the serious burdens faced by this small country which is disproportionately exposed to the pressures of such migration. They published a statement calling for the respect of the rights of these forced migrants by individual governments and by the entire European Union, and called for the burdens of receiving such migrants to be shared in a more equitable manner. The document states, "Every year several hundred persons in search of asylum in Europe, take this route through Malta, or need to be rescued and are brought here. Except for the most desperate and vulnerable cases, they are held in prolonged detention, in conditions that deepen previous suffering. If they succeed in gaining international protection, they still face untold difficulties, stemming from overcrowding, Malta's very limited capacity to receive them, and the scarcity of employment opportunities(...) We therefore urge the states most directly concerned, and the entire European Union, to make asylum in Europe truly accessible, and to deal more justly and humanely with the forced migrants who reach our shores. As this tragedy, with its roots in countries of origin in our neighboring continent of Africa, continues to unfold we make three requests to our governments and to the European Union: to show effective solidarity with persons urgently seeking protection; to assist over-burdened border states in the responsibility of meeting our shared human rights obligations; and to strengthen partnerships with African states so as to create new opportunities for their peoples to sustain a life with dignity". The Assembly represents about 5.900 Jesuits, and their colleagues, working in twenty-three member states of the European Union, as well as in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Switzerland, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and the Maghreb. For the complete text: www.sjweb.info


    ROME: Papal audience to the Pontifical Biblical Institute

    On the 26th of October Pope Benedict XVI held an audience with the members of the Pontifical Biblical Institute on the occasion of the centenary of the foundation of the Institute by Pope Pius X, who desired to establish in the city of Rome a center of specialized studies on sacred Scripture and related disciplines. After mentioning his "sincere gratitude to the Society of Jesus, which, not without significant effort, commits financial and human resources to the management of the Ancient East faculty, the Biblical faculty in Rome, and the Institute's faculty in Jerusalem," the Pope said, "Dear friends, the celebration of the centenary is an end, and at the same time a point of reference. Enriched by the experience of the past, continue on your way with renewed determination, aware of the service to the Church requires of you, to bring the Scriptures closer to the life of the People of God, so that it will be able to address in an satisfactory way the yet to be discovered challenges that modern times poses to the new evangelization. (...) May the Pontifical Biblical Institute continue, therefore, growing as an ecclesial center of biblical research of the highest quality, making use of modern methodologies and in collaboration with specialists in dogmatic and other theological areas; may it ensure a careful formation in sacred Scripture for future priests so that, making use of the biblical languages and of the various exegetical methodologies, they will be able to have direct access to biblical texts." He then spoke about the criteria set by the Second Vatican Council for the study of Scripture. He concluded by saying,  "Dear brothers and sisters, in thanking you for your enjoyable visit, I encourage you to continue your ecclesial service, in constant adherence to the magisterium of the Church and I assure each one of you the support of my prayer, imparting to you from my heart, as a pledge of divine favor, my apostolic blessing."


    AFRICA: Reconciliation, justice and peace

    Reconciliation has been one of the focal points of the recent special Synod of Bishops on Africa.  The Great Lakes Region of Africa including, but not limited to: Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, has been the scene of  massacres and persecutions producing thousands of refugees. During the Synod, Congolese Jesuit Father Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, working at the Centre d'Études pour l'Action Social (CEPAS) in Kinshasa, spoke about the Great Lakes Region during an interview with the Italian catholic newspaper Avvenire. He said, "during these past fifteen years the Great Lakes region of Africa has experienced a period of great instability that calls on the Church and all Christians to examine its collective conscience and asks some fundamental questions. Considering the fact that about 85% of the region's population is Christian, it is the particular duty of priests of this region and in the whole African Church, to investigate without fear and with frankness the level of true conversion of the faithful. What do the Christians concepts of love, forgiveness, solidarity really mean? Is faith in Christ an effective and adequate instrument to prevent conflicts and promote peace? What is the relationship between faith and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation with God and the community?"  These topics were discussed by the Synod and now should be put into concrete pastoral initiatives.


    ITALY: 450 years of Jesuit presence in Sardinia

    The 16th of November will be the 450th anniversary of the arrival of the Jesuits in Sardinia. The first residence was erected in the city of Sassari. The anniversary will be the beginning of several initiatives devoted to remembering and reflecting on the specific values of the Society's work in the hope of encouraging a deepening of Ignatian spirituality, especially among young people.  Inaugural celebrations will be held on November 15th lead by Archbishop Mani, of Cagliari, who will preside at a Mass in the Church of San Michele. On November 20th a seminar on the relationship between Jesuits and history, art and spirituality, will be held at the Theological Faculty of Cagliari. On November 27th Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. will speak on the role of the Jesuits today at the service of the Universal Church. A booklet on "the history of the Jesuits in Sardinia" will be published by the end of 2009. In 2010 the community wants to organize a photographic contest and three touring weekends to the most significant Jesuit sites on the island.


    ITALY: Paul VI Award to Sources Chrétiennes

    The prestigious French collection Sources Chrétiennes is the winner of the sixth international Paul VI award sometimes labeled the "Catholic Nobel prize". Sources Chrétiennes was begun by a group of Jesuits in Paris in 1942 that included Henri de Lubac and Jean Danélou. It played a major role in the rediscovery of ancient and medieval Christian sources. The works published, especially Greek and Latin patristic writings, compose more than 530 volumes with the original on one page and faced by introductions and comments on the other for scholars to use. The prize was inaugurated 1984 and was presented to the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. The awards committee is located at the Brescia Institution for Christian education where the young Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, was educated. The prize will be personally presented by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, November 8th in Concesio, Brescia.


    PARAGUAY: The life of Saint Roque González on YouTube

    A video has been placed on YouTube depicting the life of Saint Roque González de Santacruz (1576-1628), Jesuit martyr and founder of numerous missions that were part of the "reductions" in Paraguay. The video was prepared in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, and San Ignacio Mini, and contains an interview with Father Antonio Rojas of Cristo Re Parish. The producers, Victor Valdés and María Luisa Ferriera, present a detailed history of the life of Saint Roque González from his birth till his martyrdom and includes his canonization by Pope John Paul II in Ñu Guasu in 1988. The work was done in order to honor Saint Roque González, who is considered part of the cultural and religious patrimony through which Paraguay identity is reinforced. His canonization has been a joy for Paraguayan people, especially at the approach of the 200th anniversary of the Republic of Paraguay as an independent nation.


    UNITED KINGDOM: Plan for the Environment

    At a ceremony in Windsor Castle, on November 4th, the Jesuit Seven Year Plan for the Environment has been launched together with hundreds of other plans by different faiths, denominations and religious orders. Jesuit Conferences, provinces, works, communities and individuals are encouraged, with the help of this plan, to fulfil the mandate of GC35 to "move beyond doubts and indifference and take responsibility for our home, the earth." (D. 3, no. 31). The plan can be downloaded here (in English): http://www.sjweb.info/documents/sjs/docs/Jesuit_7yearplan.pdf

    See also: http://www.windsor2009.org/


    ROME: Meeting of Jesuit Social Network

    The annual meeting of the Jesuit Social Network (JSN) will be held in Rome from 6th to 8th November. The Network brings together Jesuits and lay colleagues working on social solidarity projects in Italy. The main topic is an analysis of the reality of Jesuit commitment to the poor and the challenges they face daily. "What should be our response as a network of social activities connected to the Society of Jesus? How does Ignatian pedagogy present a model for studying and reflecting on the area of social service?" These are the outlines for this year's meeting. On Saturday, the 7th of November the group will begin a dialogue between the social service sector and the ecclesiastical world. "To open oneself to the outside means not only to open oneself to comparison and contributing concretely to building a social culture, but it becomes also an occasion for not loosing the historical point of time we are living and disregard the challenges coming from outside," say the promoters. For more information: www.jsn.it


    SPAIN: Fifth centenary of the birth of Saint Francis Borgia

    The celebrations for the 5th centenary of the birth of Saint Francis Borgia opened on October 25th in Gandía with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Valencia. On October 28th, the birthday of Saint Francis Borja, the program of celebrations for the centenary was introduced at the ducal Palace in Gandía. The jubilee year, set in motion by Archbishop Osoro with a decree on 8 September 2009, will close 28 October 2010, in the presence of Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Saint Francis Borgia was born on October 28th, 1510 and was the Fourth Duke of Gandía and Viceroy of Catalonia. He relinquished his titles to enter the Society of Jesus, becoming the second Superior General after the founder, Saint Ignatius. See: the 2010 Yearbook of the Society of Jesus, page 46 and www.franciscodeborja.es


    UNITED STATES: Electronics moves forward

    Every day the number of newspapers and reviews that put their issues on the web increases, sometimes leaving aside the paper edition. The review Theological Studies, sponsored by the U.S. Assistancy of the Society of Jesus, announced that "The content of the entire journal, except for the most recent five years, is available on line at: http://www.ts.mu.edu/content/index.html. Articles, book reviews, and shorter notices of books can be downloaded free of charge."

    Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death

    Holy See: Exhibition on Matteo Ricci.

    On 29 October the exhibition At the Crests of History: Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) between Rome and Peking, was inaugurated at the Vatican's Braccio di Carlo Magno gallery, that is entered from St Peter's Square. The exhibition will be open until 24 January 2010, and consists of more than 150 works divided into five sections, celebrating the fourth centenary of Matteo Ricci's death in Peking on 11 May 1610. The exhibition was organized by Professor Antonio Paolucci, director of Vatican Museums, with the contribution of a highly qualified committee of scientists. The five sections are: Matteo Ricci, from Macerata to Rome; The Society of Jesus and the Oriental Missions; a generation of giants: the scientific and geographic work of the Jesuits in China (containing an exceptional collection of scientific instruments, gathered from several museums and collections, including the Institute, the Museum of Science History in Florence, and a private collection. These are examples of a remarkable group of astronomical instruments and time measurements devices that Matteo Ricci introduced to China. There is also a collection of ancient representations and maps of China); China during Father Matteo Ricci's time. This section presents many autographed works and texts printed in China by Matteo Ricci that are a testament to the major commitment of meeting and exchanging ideas that marked the birth of a new model of evangelization he began and his successors continued. They represent the religious and cultural inheritance from Father Ricci.


    Treviso: Another exhibition.

    The exhibition Secrets of the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci at the Ming Court, was inaugurated on October 24th at the Casa dei Carraresi in Treviso. It is the third exhibition of the cultural project "The silk road and Chinese civilization". Thanks to the initiative of the Fondazione Cassamarca, Treviso  has hosted "The birth of the Celestial Empire" (2005-2006) and "Gengis Khan" (2007-2008), major presentations of Chinese technology and art. The fourth and final exhibition "Manchu, the last Empire" will be presented during the years 2011-2012. The present exhibition in Treviso devotes a special section to Matteo Ricci in which are presented quite rare autographed documents, ancient texts and ingenious workings for the study of astronomy.


    DVD on Matteo Ricci available.

    As of 10 November copies of the documentary film Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit in the Reign of the Dragoon, by Gjon Kolndrekaj presenting the life and works of the Jesuit of Macerata and produced on the occasion of the fourth centenary of his death may be ordered. The documentary film lasts about 55 minutes and is available in seven languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. It is possible to place bulk orders of 100 copies (10 euro each), 500 copies (9 euro each) and 1,000 copies (7 euro each). Orders are made via email to: commerciale@matteoricci.it and will be shipped within 30 days. When placing your order please leave a contact phone number. For more information on the work of Gjon Kolndrekaj please visit www.matteoricci.it or write to: CDA Servizi Editoriali, Viale Liegi, 7 - 00198 Roma, Italia.

    New in SJWEB

    A podcast with the Rwandese Jesuit-bishop Alexis Habiyambere after the bishops Synod about Africa (in French).

    Some important speeches of Fr. General from the last months:

    - The Discourse on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Jesuit
      Education in the Philippines (Ateneo de Manila University Philippines, 13 July 2009).
    - The Allocution to the World Congress of World Union of Jesuit Alumni/ae (Bujumbura, Burundi, 26th July  2009). 

    Click on "Rome" in the Top menu / Documents and talks / Father Adolfo Nicolás SJ.


    The next issue of the ELECTRONIC SERVICE will  appear at the beginning of December.