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Vol. XIV, No. 24 29 November 2010
Interview to Father General. In the previous bulletin (n. 22 of November 4) we mentioned the participation of Father General in the XXI General Assembly of CPAL (The Conference of Latin American Provincials) and his visits to the Jesuits of Paraguay, Argentina-Uruguay and Chile Provinces. Upon his return we asked him some questions. Here are his answers.
D. You participated in the General Assembly of CPAL (Conference of Latin American Provincials): which are the problems and pastoral indications that surfaced during those days?
The meeting was mainly meant to continue the discernment on the Common Apostolic Plan that the Major Superiors of Latin America wanted to define up to 2020 and which will be evaluated in 2015. In this 21st CPAL's Assembly the priorities set in the previous meeting held in Guatemala last May have been confirmed, and goals and lines of action set for each of them. We wanted to determine the actions that will be in CPAL's agenda for next year, and which ones will be realized in the short and long term. The Society in this continent wants to offer a privileged service to the most vulnerable social sectors, to youth, to the integration among Latin American Countries and to the dialogue between faith and cultures. This commitment will be realized according to the orientations of the IV Latinamerican Bishops'Conference held in Aparecida, but offering our contribution from our spirituality characterized by the fact that it is historical and incarnated, as it emergexs from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It is clear that such a service of the Society to the mission of the Church in the plurality of cultures forming today's Latin America cannot be realized without three elements which are considered essential: first, an apostolic body of the Society of Jesus vigorous in its evangelical quality; second, a sincere spirit of collaboration with others in mission and, third, a renewed form of management and governance of our different institutions. The next Assembly of CPAL, the 22nd, which will take place in Puerto Rico, will definitively define these lines of pastoral action, offering in this way a big hope for the future work of the Society in Latin America.
D. It is for the first time, that during this visit you met the Jesuit bishops of Latin America. How was the encounter and what have the bishops asked of the Society?
The meeting was very friendly and familiar and this can be explained only because of a deep sentiment of belonging to the same spiritual and apostolic family. The bishops expressed their joy in receiving the invitation and in feeling themselves fully part of the Company's spiritual walk. They sincerely spoke about some of their difficulties and hopes for the Society of Jesus.
In other words, they expressed the same expectations from the Society that were expressed by the Pope to me directly in other occasions. That is, if I can make a short list:
- A service of intellectual and spiritual quality to the Church. The Church needs men of thoughtful consideration and deep reflection. Many are looking for this from the Society. Today, maybe more than ever before, the Church needs Masters "cultured and wise" at the same time.
- A contribution to the life of the Church from the mystique and spirituality of our Spiritual Exercises.
- An help to the bishops in the formation of seminarians.
- As usual, a passion for Christ, for the Church and for the Mission is expected of the Jesuits. The context of Paraguayan Reductions gave a special weight to this expectation.
- An ability to bring novelty, respecting the needs and traditions of simple people. That is, what Fr. Kolvenbach called "creative fidelity".
D. Some of the Countries you visited during this trip preserve still clear traces of the presence of the old Society with the "Reducciones": what was your impression taking also into account the current Jesuit apostolic activities in those provinces?
Unfortunately I could not visit the old Reductions of the Society. The agenda was already filled with other commitments. But I had the occasion to hear many things about them which consoled me a lot. It is striking to notice the great work done by the Jesuits between 1609 and 1767, the year in which the Society was suppressed, following an order of the king, from a region today comprised between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. In a span of a little more than 150 years the Jesuits, without a break, realized a significant evangelization project combining together faith and justice, in the style of those times, and gave birth to about thirty indigenous villages, some with more than 3000 inhabitants. We can learn many things from this extraordinary experience. The striking ruins of those villages, the many art works and the numerous reports are a living testimony of this work of immeasurable value. I want to underline three points that I consider real challenges for the fulfillment of our mission in today's globalized world: first of all, in every village there were often few Jesuits, generally two, a priest and a brother: that is there is no need of many Jesuits to make a great impact, but the need of a great evangelical spirit, a spirit of sacrifice, dedication, openness to team work with the locals, and a lot of creativity. Secondly I call the attention to the fact that those Jesuits were coming from many different countries: there were Italians, Dutch, Spanish, German, French, Creole and many others. In spite of their different origins they could live the universal dimension of the Society and work with a team spirit or that of an apostolic body, manifesting good communication among themselves, common projects and an excellent mutual help. Finally, we can detect that those Jesuits were very well formed: some were masters in arts, other in music, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, physics and even astronomy; all this knowledge was put at the service of the defense of the Guaraní's life and of the construction of villages, where the indigenous felt at home, protected and advancing in the quality of their lives.
From the Curia
Death of Cardinal Navarrete. Cardinal Urbano Navarrete Cortés, a Spanish Jesuit, passed away on 22 November 2010, aged 90, in the Infirmary at the Residence, St Peter Canisius, Rome. In his telegram to Fr General, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his great esteem for the personal witness given by him of a Christian and consecrated life, as also of the exemplary service rendered especially in the formation of generations of younger priests. The funeral will be celebrated in St Peter's Basilica presided over by Cardinal Sodano, at the end of which Pope Benedict XVI will address those present, before presiding over the Final Commendation and the Farewell. Fr Navarrete was born in a family of agriculturists in Camarena de la Sierra near Teruel un Aragon (Spain). The future Cardinal, born on 25 May 1920 experienced the sorrow of seeing his family divided because of the Civil War. It was in those dramatic years that his vocation to the Society matured, till he entered in 1937 the novitiate of the Aragon Province, then located in Italy. After the normal course of formation in the Society, he obtained a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, where he sent the greater part of his life as Professor of Marriage Law, then as Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law, before assuming the Rectorship of the same University for six years. In one of his written memoirs, dated 2007, on the occasion of his being created a cardinal, he wrote: "I was incorporated into the teaching staff of the Faculty of Canon Law in October 1958. Pius XII died on the 9th of the same month, and John XXIII was elected Pope on 4th November of the same year. Without any delay, he announced the programme of his Pontificate - a Diocesan Synod, an Ecumenical Council and the Revision of the Code of Canon Law. This opened out for me a thrilling phase as a young Professor of Marriage Law. Some of the principal areas of my work were - the formation of the students in the class room and in personal conversation, the direction of the classes and of their work towards academic degrees, especially their doctoral dissertations written in either Latin or Italian. My published articles, nearly 150, have been published in Castillian in a 1,200 page volume by Bibliotheca degli Autori Christiani of Madrid under the title "Diritto canonico matrimoniale, Evoluzione alla luce del Vaticano II (Marriage Canon Law: Evolution in the Light of Vatican II)." In this field he became a point of reference for the Holy See which nominated him over a long stretch of time as Consultor of various dicasteries.
The last year of his life was spent in great serenity in the Infirmary of the Residence St Peter Canisius, assisted with great love and care by the Sisters and his fellow Jesuits. His body has been buried in the Jesuit Cemetery pf Campo Verano, in Rome.