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Vol. XIV, N. 9 5 May 2010
From the Curia
- From the 3rd to the 15th of May, the Colloquium for new Provincials, conducted in English, will be held at the General Curia in Rome; fourteen provincials will participate. The purpose is to present a deeper understanding of the issues facing the universal Society, and, at the same time, offer the opportunity to study more intensely the commitments and duties of a Provincial regarding cura personalis, cura apostolica, community and apostolic life, from legal, legislative, financial and organizational perspectives. The meeting gives Father General the prospect of knowing better his closest collaborators and bringing them up to date on the challenges the Society faces as well as the progress on projects he is carrying forward in accord with the directives of the 35th General Congregation. The new Provincials will have the opportunity to understand, in a more thorough fashion, the General Curia, its many offices and secretariats, and have the occasion to visit the international Roman houses.
- JRS Regional Directors Meeting. The up-coming JRS Regional Directors Meeting will take place in Rome, from the 21st to the 29 of May. With occasion of JRS 30 years anniversary next November 14th, one of the main points of the agenda will be to invite participants to see the JRS past towards the future, to take up the strategic plan 2006-2010 and to share with Fr. General the main concerns and listen to his vision for JRS. Participants to the meeting will be the Regional directors together with the members of the JRS international office, and together with some members of JRS Council - apart from Fr. General, who meets JRS regional directors every year in the meeting of May in Rome. This annual meeting in the General Curia reflects the link between Fr. General and JRS as international apostolic work of the Society of Jesus.
- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Father François-Xavier Dumortier, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He will replace Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, who concludes his term of office on the First of September. Father Dumortier was born in Levroux, France, on 4 November 1948, entered the Society of Jesus in 1973. He completed his studies in political sciences at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, and in law at the Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, where he graduated with a specialization in philosophy of law. He was ordained a priest in 1982. Father Dumortier has a profound knowledge in the management of academic and religious institutions, and of the European and American University world. He is well informed on the Gregorian University given his membership on the Commissio Interprovincialis Permanens, a consultative commission to the Jesuit Superior General for the international houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome.
- Father General has confirmed Father Mark Rotsaert, as Superior of the community of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Father Rotsaert was born in Hasselt (Belgium) on 19 May 1942. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1960 for the Province of North Belgium and was ordained a priest in 1973. He has wide experience in Society's governance; twice he served as the North Belgian Provincial and in 2003 was named President of the Conference of European Provincials, a position he will hold until October. During the last General Congregation he was elected Secretary and he is presently a member of the General Council of Father General.
From the Provinces
LATIN AMERICA: Meeting of Rectors of Interprovincial Theologates
From the 13th to 25th of April, a meeting of the rectors of the three interprovincial theologates of Latin America, (Bogotá, Santiago de Chile and Belo Horizonte), was held at the Theologate in Bogotá, Colombia. The President of CPAL, Father Ernesto Cavassa, and the Delegate for Formation, Father Armando Raffo attended the meeting; the goal was to reinforce the deep communion among the participants and to continue the process of harmonization of criteria and processes among the theologates. An evening of conversation was held with the students and formatores of the Bogotá center. The aim of the meeting was to convey goals, projects, difficulties the interprovincial theologates have to face and to exchange views and concerns on different aspects of the work done by the three centers. A rich dialogue was carried out in a climate of good communication on various topics of concern that need to be deepened. The participants paid a visit to the Theological Faculty of the Javeriana University to become acquainted with its academic programmes.
HAITI: Poverty is the Real Earthquake
Three months have passed since the earthquake of 12 January 2010. The members of the Jesuits of Haiti Interprovincial Committee (CIJH) and representatives of various provinces of the Society of Jesus have met to discuss the situation and plan for reconstruction. According to the participants, the tragedy, the real earthquake that "has shaken not only the island but the entire world" is the level of poverty in Haiti. "The consequences of the earthquake in Haiti...were not only catastrophic as a natural phenomenon, but for the region where it happened," said Father Alfredo Infante, JRS Director for Latin America and Caribbean, to the Jesuits who attended the meeting. The Jesuits agreed that the disaster offered a unique opportunity for those working in the social justice arena to commit themselves to a rebirth of a "new Haiti." Reconstruction goes far beyond rebuilding houses and schools, as important as they are. What is crucial is the reform of the political and socio-economic sectors of the country, and the reinforcement of civil organizations. During the initial phases of the emergency the response of the Society of Jesus in the education field was entrusted to Fe y Alegría; research and proposals for social transformation are in the hands of Jesuit Documentation Center; assistance to the population is assured by JRS.
ITALY: A Trip to the heart of the Society
"Jesuits in Rome, Unexpected Connections: a Trip to the Heart of the Society" is the title of the event that will take place from the 4th to the 16th of May at the architectural complex of the Church of the Gesù and in several of the most significant houses for the Society in Rome. During the cultural event there will be many references to Father Matteo Ricci and Brother Andrea Pozzo. The itinerary is a real "trip to the heart of the Society", allowing visitors to physically enter where the Jesuits and their collaborators lived and worked every day, and to see how their religious vocation at the service of culture, justice, solidarity was one of welcome and cooperation. The phrase, "opening the doors" expresses the profound desire of the Society to again arrange its spaces and relations, it's way of life and commitment to a renewed way of living with the world. The purpose is not simply to commemorate or to celebrate, but to establish more grounded and fruitful connections with local reality, starting from where the Society presently collaboratively works.
MEXICO: Violence and Anti-Democracy
Violence and anti-democracy is increasing all over the world, said Father Adolfo Nicolás during his visit to Mexico some weeks ago. "Populism is increasing instead of democracy, information is manipulated, people are put under pressure with publicity campaigns and restriction of information so that they cannot understand what is really happening; opinion is manipulated in view of making political choices or to sell a product." Father Nicolás deplored the fact that violence is linked with the illegal drugs trade and that the violence of armed groups is increasing; he noted that, according to the latest statistics, 80,000 murders were perpetrated in Latin America in past six years, making it one of the most dangerous regions of the world. The conference was held at the Auditorium Pedro Arrupe in the Institute of Technology and Higher Education of the West (ITESO). Father Nicolás spoke about the challenges the Jesuits face, challenges that are "exactly the same challenges of humanity." The rooting out of war, violence, social exclusion, iniquities, are some of the duties to be achieved. Education is "the big challenge of humanity", Father Nicolás underlined, and has to be "open" to a world ever more complex and demanding. He said that a great number of the 18,266 members of the Society of Jesus presently live in Latin America, Africa and Asia; with this fact in mind, the future of the Society must be considered.
SPAIN: Congress on the Priesthood
The Christian life of the priest is inseparable from his personal life, and his theological identity is put to the test in his daily work in every historical and social setting. The reality and analysis of ecclesial life in a deep and reflective way was the theme of the International Congress, The Priesthood: Foundations and Constructs. The congress was organized by the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University of Comillas and was held from the 19th to the 22nd of April, with the participation of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The opening and closing addresses were delivered by two cardinals. The opening address, given by biblical expert Alberto Cardinal Vanhoye S.J., entitled, Priestly identity according to New Testament, while Claudio Cardinal Hummes, OFM, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, offered the closing address on, Eucharist and the Word in the life of the Priest. The program also focused on the ecclesial and communal dimension of the priesthood according to Saint Augustine's ecclesiology, the meaning of the ordained ministry, and the vision priesthood of Vatican II and after the Council. Other aspects of the program noted the theological foundations of priesthood, as well as its hierarchical, doctrinal and ministerial dimensions. All these are points highlighted as themes for study by the Pope during this, the Year for Priest.
HOLY LAND: Master, Pastor and Brave Witness
"A great master, a compassionate pastor and a brave witness." This is how Pope Benedict XVI was introduced by the patriarchal vicar for the catholic communities of Jewish expression, the Israeli Jesuit, Father David Neuhaus, during the Mass celebrating the fifth anniversary of his election to the Papacy and presided over by the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco. Remembering the Pope's journey to the Holy Land in May 2009, the vicar recalled, "the richness of his message. He encouraged us to embrace our status as a small flock and announce the Good News. He exhorted us to look for opportunities for dialogue with Muslims and Jews, and to place our hope in a better future." "All the time, Father Neuhaus continued, "he manifested to us a desire for justice, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, highlighting the unique contribution the Church can and must make in our situation. When he visited one year ago, Pope Benedict XVI called himself a friend of Israel and the Palestinians, and we thank him for this friendship." Father Neuhaus concluded, "Soon the pope will return to our diocese, this time to Cyprus. May God bless this visit and the dialogue with the Orthodox Churches. In October there will be the Synod for the Middle East.The Pope asked us to pray for him, to discuss, console and find ways to announce the Gospel to this beloved region."
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Matteo Ricci's Symposium. More than 300 participants from around the world, including 25 from mainland China, gathered on April 19 for a four-day symposium at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci. The symposium focused on east-west dialogue in terms of philosophy, history, religion, culture, science and education. More than 90 scholars presented papers. The hope is that the participation of some mainland church people could enhance and deepen cultural exchanges between mainland China and Taiwan. The opening addresses underlined that Ricci was a "master of intercultural dialogue." Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, a Jesuit, retired bishop of Kaohsiung, said in his speech that 400 years ago, Father Ricci had achieved the principles of interreligious dialogue as proposed in the Second Vatican Council, namely "mutual respect, mutual understanding and cordial cooperation." "The secret to Ricci's success was respecting Chinese culture and humbly introducing western science and technology to China," the cardinal said. The symposium also premiered a documentary film, Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit in the Kingdom of the Dragon, directed by Gjon Kolndrekaj, and a bronze statue of Father Ricci was unveiled in front of the Ricci Building of Fu Jen.
Le "Grand Ricci" in Shanghai. Communication between cultures does not mean giving up one's mother tongue or traditions. Rather, a sincere effort at cross-cultural communication leads to a renewed appreciation of our own heritage and that of our cultural counterparts. Encyclopedic dictionaries play a major role in cultural dialogue, as they are the repository of the wisdom and memories enshrined in our languages, and allow us to navigate from one world of thought to another. The Grand Ricci, a Chinese-French Encyclopedic Dictionary is the most impressive expression of such a vision. The Grand Ricci was authored by the Ricci Institute of Paris and Taipei. Its paper edition was published in 2001, but its roots go back to lexicographic research started in Shanghai and Hebei around 1880, and its actual editing started in 1949. On May 11, 2010, the digital edition will be unveiled in Shanghai. This event will take place on the date of the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Matteo Ricci (May 11, 1610). With the unveiling of its DVD edition, cultural interaction between China and the West enters a new phase.
"Today's China and Matteo Ricci". On the 29th of April, a commemoration of Father Matteo Ricci was held at the Campidoglio in Rome. During the event his figure as a missionary as well as a cultural mediator was emphasized. Today a dialogue on the elements of spirituality and religious freedom is important between China and the West. Among those attending the event were: Archbishop Robert Sarah, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People; Salesian Father Savio Hon, from Hong Kong, a member of the International Theological Commission; professor Giuseppe Jing, director of the China-Europe Cultural Center; professor Zhuo Xinping, of the Academy of Social Sciences in Bejing, director of the Institute on World Religions; and Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews.