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Process begins to beatify former Jesuit Superior General

Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Arturo Sosa, officially announced that the process for the beatification of one of his predecessors, Fr Pedro Arrupe, has been opened. Sosa made the announcement on 14 November 2018 – the 111th birth anniversary of Arrupe.

The Society of Jesus has officially begun the process toward the beatification cause of Fr Pedro Arrupe, the 28th Jesuit Superior General from 1965 to 1983.  From now on, he is considered a “Servant of God”.

The cause has been set in motion in the Vicariate of Rome, where Fr Arrupe died. After prayer and careful consideration, the Society has requested to initiate the ecclesial discernment on Fr Arrupe’s heroic virtues.

Once the nihil obstat, a declaration of no objection of the Holy See and the consent of the bishops closest to Rome in the Italian Episcopal Conference have been received and there are no objections among the People of God, the session formally opening the cause will take place on 5 February next year, the 28th anniversary of Fr Arrupe’s death, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

Superior General Fr Arturo Sosa made the official announcement on 14 November, the 111th birth anniversary of Fr Arrupe during a liturgy in Rome marking the 38th anniversary of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Fr Arrupe founded JRS in 1980 to meet the humanitarian and educational needs of the refugees of the Vietnam war.

Fr Arturo Sosa celebrating mass for Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome where he announced the process for Fr Arrupe's beatification has begun // Jesuit Refugee Service
Fr Arturo Sosa celebrating mass for Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome where he announced the process for Fr Arrupe’s beatification has begun // Jesuit Refugee Service

Fr Sosa first mentioned the possible beatification of Fr Arrupe in July during the International Association of Jesuit Universities meeting in Bilbao, Spain.

“During the last few months, as I have informed people about this intention during my travels to many places, I have been able to see for myself how alive the memory and legacy of Fr Arrupe are,” Fr Sosa said in his letter to the whole Society.

He described how Jesuits and non-Jesuits have witnessed Fr Arrupe’s exceptional qualities, such as “his desire to fulfil in everything the will of God the Father, his rootedness in Jesus Christ, his trust in the Holy Spirit as the guide of the Church”.

He also cited Fr Arrupe’s missionary disposition and fidelity to the Society’s way of proceeding, and his love for and closeness to the poor.

“Fr Pedro Arrupe showed himself to be an extraordinary, passionate ‘man of God and man of the Church’,” he said.

Fr Sosa also noted Fr Arrupe’s encouragement of the rediscovery of the Spiritual Exercises and other writings of St Ignatius, and the method of personal discernment and discernment in common, which he said paved the way for the renewal of Jesuit life, their consecration and vows, community and mission.

“In general, he provided the means for the Society, the Church and society at large to be nourished by the richness of the Ignatian tradition,” he said.

Born in the Basque region of Spain in 1907, Fr Arrupe was a missionary in Japan in 1938. He was master of novices at the Jesuit novitiate in Hiroshima in 1945 during the bombing. He was appointed Provincial of the Japanese Jesuit Province in 1958, and in 1965 was elected Superior General during General Congregation 31. He participated in the last session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

“In the decades following the Council, he applied it with ‘creative fidelity’, so much so, that Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach in 2007 described him as a ‘prophet of the Conciliar renewal’. Referring in 2011 to this period, Fr Adolfo Nicolás recalled Fr Arrupe’s insistence that ‘the spirit of St Ignatius guide and direct us at this important time in the life of the Church’, a Church that he always wanted to serve unconditionally,” said Fr Sosa.

Fr Arrupe with recently canonised Pope Paul VI // Jesuits in Britain
Fr Arrupe with recently canonised Pope Paul VI // Jesuits in Britain

It was Fr Arrupe who invited students in Jesuit schools to be “men and women for others”. He promoted reconciliation, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and treated people with great respect.

“Until the end, he communicated a great goodness, which matured even more through his illness, when he knew that he was totally in the hands of God,” said Fr Sosa.

One sign of the memory, devotion and living influence of Fr Arrupe is the many communities, houses, apostolic works and programmes that bear his name, one of which is the Arrupe International Residence, the JCAP formation house in Manila.

“I am convinced that the person of Fr Pedro Arrupe, in this time of grace as we move toward a desired beatification, will inspire in Jesuits and in those with whom we partner in mission a greater desire of union and spiritual renewal,” said Fr Sosa, “impelling us to greater collaboration in the reconciliation of all things in Christ, guiding us, ‘under the Roman Pontiff’, wherever the Spirit leads.”

Source: Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.