Loyola (Fides Service) – “Not only the good seed has been sown but also the darnel which in some places can be so vigorous that we need all our faith in the Master of the field to believe that, despite the mass of darnel, the wheat will grow and produce fruit”. With this reference to the Gospel the Preposito General of the Society of Jesus Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach began his address on the state of the Society opening the meeting of Jesuit Procurators which started on 18 September in Loyola.
From reports from the provinces there emerged more than abundant activity almost everywhere in the world, nevertheless “because the Lord sends us to the world, and not elsewhere, to carry on his mission, we share with this world its ills”, the Preposito General said. One negative aspect signalled by the reports is less solidarity with the poor: “it cannot be denied that all our ministries our impregnated with the preferential option for the poor” the Preposito General commented, and this means that the concrete expression of this natural link with those condemned to live in poverty, injustice and insecurity, should be more explicit. A sign of hope are more than 900 novices although in the promotion of vocations it is necessary to seek quality rather than quantity and the Preposito General stressed the need for “vigilant promotion of vocations…the entire Society is called to live the Ignatian mission more explicitly, more visibly.”
Focussing on certain aspects of missionary activity, Father Kolvenbach underlined the need to rediscover: “the missionary sense of examination of conscience” which every year for every Jesuit should be, “a time to receive his mission, see it confirmed or changed”; testimony of community life, “where men not destined to pray, live and work together, render the Lord’s new commandment present in a world of division, conflict and violence ”; look to the future of mission “instead of being content to keep the status quo, even when it is satisfactory” setting pastoral priorities for action; commitment to reach out to those who are distant in the hundreds of parishes entrusted to Jesuit Father, “instead of being content with caring for those who practice their faith”. With regard to the ministry of education, “the number of Jesuits active in this crucial mission is more or less stable, but the number of non Jesuit collaborators continues to grow as does the number of institutes of education. Despite all sorts of obstacles creative work continues to guarantee education with a clearly proposed Christian identity and the Ignatian characteristics of this education which continue to be operative”.
While the education sector is growing steadily, “the social sector risks disappearing on the Society, unless a prompt special effort is made” Father Kolvenbach said, referring to social centres, forms of insertion among the poor, support to trade unions and popular movements. “Within the Society’s ministries and activities there is a growing conviction that the privileged service of the poorest and the most needy is an integral part of the mission of Christ which we are called to continue: to live with Christ a life of poverty and to embrace with him the cause of the poor…we must continuously rediscover the path of solidarity with the poor, in danger of being served last in our choice of apostolic priorities, our life style, as individuals and as a community. We must have the courage to be the voice of the many who have no voice, in the name of the One who is their friend” SL (Fides Service 19/9/2003 EM lines 46 Words: 663)