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"We collaborate" rather than "they collaborate" – Fr. Arturo Sosa
Father General's visit to the PAL of Valladolid, Villagarcía y León began in the infirmary of Villagarcía de Campos on Ascension Sunday. Accompanied by the Provincial of Spain, Antonio España, the Regional Assistant of Southern Europe, Joaquín Barrero, the Delegate for the Elderly, Cipriano Díaz, and the Delegate of the PAL, Gerardo Villar, he toured the house, greeting the residents and the staff who take care of the elderly. A meeting of friendship, between colleagues, that at 12h. was extended to more Jesuits, more than a hundred, already in the recently restored Capilla del Cristo (Chapel of Christ). He presented himself as the Jesuit admired and grateful to know Villagarcía. "A complete myth", he said, because of all the news of the novitiate and of his practices known through the Spanish Jesuits who arrived in Venezuela, his native country. He commented that when he joined the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits had only been in Venezuela for 50 years and 40 percent of his companions were Spanish. However, they achieved a good transition thanks to their inculturation from which they transmitted their passion for Jesus.
The core of Arturo Sosa's talk came from the 36th General Congregation, where he was elected to succeed Fr Adolfo Nicolás in 2016 and whose decrees mark the future of the Jesuit vocation towards "reconciliation". With all that complexity of a wounded, moving and unequal world, healing only exists if there is justice, mercy and forgiveness. For Sosa, the sense of reconciliation has been present in the core of the Society since previous congregations, although it has been expressed from other dimensions such as faith and justice, dialogue between cultures and religions. The challenge now is that this future is built in partnership with others. "GC36 paid more attention to the way we do things than to what we do," he explained, and among the ways we do things, he pointed out the first: discernment, a first way that goes hand in hand with apostolic planning "to make things better, more and better" and work with others. "The mission of the Society of Jesus is not of the Society, it is of the Church, because since we were born, we were born to serve the Church. He invited the Jesuits to change "the mentality" and think more of "we collaborate" than "they collaborate". And he added: "to share mission even with those of us who do not share the faith but share the mission".
Arturo Sosa also reviewed the three mandates of GC36 to the Jesuits: the in-depth review of apostolic preferences with the greater participation of the Jesuits. The work will last 10 years, and the time will be devoted to planning how they will be carried out. The second mandate is to review the poverty statute and the rules for the administration of temporary goods. "It puts us in an important spiritual situation because it puts us in front of one of the thorniest issues like poverty." He recalled how the first Jesuits lived the poverty from which the Society of Jesus was born and the vow of the Jesuits. "The image we give is not that we live poorly. Objectively, in most cases, as a body, our image is too far from living in poverty," he acknowledged. For Fr Sosa, the important thing in the future is to recognize the way to be closer to Jesus who became incarnate in humanity "poor among the poor". Finally, the third mandate is the promotion of a culture of safeguarding children and vulnerable persons. An ambitious mandate because the contribution would be that of social transformation through justice and reconciliation. "A complex job that won't last 10 years but generations."
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