“Always be a father!” My take on fr. Arturo Sosa, General of the Jesuits

2016-10-19-13-43-54Arturo Sosa was my “desk companion” during the General Congregation.  He told me a few days before the start that he would be seated next to me.  In the days before his election, we talked of many things, some perhaps unimportant, others more serious.  I sensed, however, a person next to me with a lot of energy and serenity.  A resolved person, reconciled with life and his experience of the past.

On the day of the election, we had exchanged few words.  The climate was of silence and profound interior recollection.  I showed him the notebook in which I was taking some notes.  On the cover was imprinted a phrase of St Ignatius: “Go forth and set the world on fire”.  His comment was: “Yes.  But today the world is already in flames, and unfortunately in another sense…..”

14725645_10154516511092508_2815614404307365159_nOne day we spoke about Pope Francis.  He told me he met Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the 33rd General Congregation in 1983.  Arturo was just 35 years old:  he was very young to be a “congregation father”.  Bergoglio—who then was 47 years old—saw him as young and robust.  This is why he gave him a nickname: “potrillo”, that is “colt”.  The recommendation that the Pope made at the news of his election to the General was: “be courageous”.

The day of the election we were all dressed well.  He had on his suit and clergyman black that “stood out” well with his white mustache and hair.  I noted that both his beloved plaid shirts that he brought and the dark suit that he brought didn’t change his behavior.  So I’d always known him:  as a person capable of being himself and at ease in the most diverse situations.  The counting of the votes by now indicated that his election was imminent.  He was as serene before the beginning of the voting as he was the day before…  Almost without think I extended my arms to comfort him for the weight that was falling on his shoulders.  I realized that I was embracing him.  He, serene as before, just whispered something like:  “when the chicken is to be eaten, you need only to boil the water…”

14713697_10154527066927508_3208992864689140582_nEven after the gathering of the number of needed votes, he was not discomposed.  He continued to write something in his notebook.  Until, the vote counting concluded, a round of applause started and the hands of the brothers embracing him and applauding him had not completely surrounded him, I had time to whisper in his ear: “You are our Father General”, emphasizing with my voice the word “father”.  And then: “Always be a father”.

Arturo Sosa is then the new Father General of the Jesuits.  He is 68 years old and a Venezuelan.  We well know what strong tensions they have experienced in Venezuela, tensions that he has experienced first hand.  Venezuela is one of the “peripheries” about which Francis has talked.  The “black pope” is proof that the very peripheries where tensions simmer, can convey energies to put at the service in the center of the Church universal.  People like Arturo Sosa have experienced such tensions through which at the end the spiritual energy of their personality flows calm, serene, without tensions.  Mature.  People like him don’t have to prove anything to themselves.  They have already done so, perhaps.  They gambled.  They have now won and now lost.  They took the walls by headbutts. They have even had ideological passions arriving then at near nothingness in their inconsistency.  Thiers is no longer an ideological critique of ideology, but a hand-to-hand combat with the reasons why it’s worth spending (and sometimes losing) their lives.  Now these people like Sosa, like Bergoglio, can bear the weight well without taking to many measures.  They can even resist the bewitching bureaucracy of power by remaining themselves.

14716206_10154515891227508_6256879352948603279_nAnd Sosa, like Bergoglio, is from Latin America.  Their countries—Venezuela and Argentine—are certainly two different countries.  And moreover, they witness together that the Church of that subcontinent is a “source” Church, and not a reflection, capable of bearing mature fruit for the universal Church.  Also for that of the European Church, and without contrasts, because they have European roots in their blood:  Bergoglio in the Piedmont of Nonna Rosa, Sosa in the Spain of Santander of his maternal grandfather, a tailor passionate about bulls and bullfights, who died at 104 years of age.
In the homily at the beginning of his mandate, Arturo Sosa said of the Jesuits something which can cause all to reflect.  He said that we must leave the fears behind that we feel and we must be creative and audacious, we must take the bulls by the horn.  He understood that the problem is simple: we make mistakes because we act motivated by fear.   And then Sosa had the courage to say in his first homily as General:  “We also want to contribute to what today seems impossible: a Humanity reconciled in justice, that lives in peace in a common home well cared for, where there is a place for all of us because we recognize our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same and one only Father”.   He spoke of the “audacity of the impossible” that flows from faith.  Only a man who has gone through the ideologies knows that you must not be afraid of utopias if they are able to supply the gasoline to move forward in the building of a better world.  In a time in which one lives fears and disappointments, in a time in which you only take account of secure things, with few certainties at your disposal, Arturo Sosa invites us to not lose that healthy utopia that allows us to believe that the world is not destined to perdition and that it is possible to work to make it what the Lord wants it to be.

750x420x161015_gc36_thanksgiving_mass_arturo_sosa_sj_election_ie_250-750x420-jpg-pagespeed-ic-y63vnor4lrThis is why, deep down, Sosa was an intellectual—professor of the Theory of Politics and Rector of a university.  Because he wanted to understand how the world goes, how it functions, what makes it turn in the opposite direction in its orbits fixed by God’s plan.  He said in his first homily at the Church of the Gesù, dressed in the same liturgical vestments worn by Francis for his first Mass with the Jesuits: “Thinking to understand in depth the moment of human history that we live and to contribute to the search for alternatives to overcome poverty, inequality and oppression.  To not cease thinking to propose the pertinent questions to theology and to deepen the understanding of the faith that we ask the Lord to increase in us”.

He had written in 2008: “The Society of Jesus does not hide the complexities of the problems that afflict human beings and the multiple bridges that it is necessary to stretch to overcome the barriers between the social classes, ethnicities, religious differences or of gender and many others that prevent and block reconciliation among human beings.  One of the characteristic traits of the Society of Jesus since its foundation has a special importance: the commitment to the intellectual apostolate through which it can effectively contribute and fully understand the mechanisms and connections of real problems, a condition without which it is not possible to build the necessary bridges to facilitate reconciliation with others”.

But Arturo Sosa was not solely an intellectual.  He was and is a man of government.  He has participated in four General Congregations, and was Provincial of Venezuela, he served on the Council of Father Generale Adolfo Nicolás, and lastly he was responsible for the international houses of Rome.

Between local and international commitment, the key word for him was “frontier”.  He wrote: “The frontier in the life of persons and peoples is a challenging sign.  It represents the limits of reality itself or the limits of the other.  It represents, at the same time, the possibility of going beyond the initial limits, and moving towards less familiar areas and ideals.  It represents the challenge of transcending what we are, to draw closer to what we should be, and, finally, to open ourselves to the totally other, to God”.

Sosa’s discourses end up always in God.  You can easily understand him:  this man of government, this intellectual, this man of ignited and resolved tensions, is a man of God.  First of all he is a spiritual man who reminds the brothers who have elected him that they must have: “the whole heart that we want to have in tune with the Merciful Father”.

What is the Society of Jesus for Arturo Sosa?  We will understand that better in the near future.  For now it is enough to quote one of his dazzling definitions of eight years ago: un grupo mínimo para la magnitud de lo que se propone (“a minimum group for what is proposed”).14691964_10154517696227508_691428205635277744_o

(translation by Reyanna Rice from the original text in Italian)




«The Resurrection» of Bruce Springsteen

2Noted as a musician, Springsteen reveals himself the author of texts of various inspiration and sensitivity: now visionary, now lyrical, now narrative.  In fact one care recognize a kind of journey in his production, that moves from dense verses of abstract images to texts that recount stories with a precision of language, woven with metaphor, alliteration, allegory, that make stories in the form of poetry[1].  A characteristic trait of his album is a realism innervated by dreams and desires in which everyone can find himself or herself.  His art is not detached from common life:  he wants to acknowledge the dignity or, better, the «nobility»[2] of daily life.  To draw inspiration the Boss therefore doesn’t go far: he looks precisely at his personal life—interwoven of high and lows, affective crises and desires of a serene life—and to that of people around him, squeezed between an unrealizable American Dream and the crude daily life of the periphery.

This cord makes it vibrate in unison with writers like John Steinbeck and Flannery O’Connor.  But, among his sources of inspiration is even the Bible.  Springsteen comes from a family of Italian-Irish roots. However his relationship with his religion was never idyllic.  He traced back his refusal of the faith to a negative experience he had as a child: «God was used purely as an instrument of control.  When I turned thirteen I had enough and said: “Enough!”»[3].  The God imagined and refused is therefore the controller God.  Recently some simple gestures by the Boss have given pause to his perception of the sacred[4].

Any consideration linked to the personal conscience of the musician would therefore be undeserved.  What interests us is not to say if Springsteen is a believer or not, nor if his music expresses the faith genuinely or if it betrays it, even why his production in this sense is not even unique.  We intend therefore to note how, consciously or not, his inspiration is rich in figures, terms and symbols of religious meaning.  If, in fact, some of his youthful songs appear blasphemous and banal and are fruit more of an acid vent than of true inspiration, what appears obvious from a complete reading of his tests is the fact that, from the evident rebellion of his adolescent years, it is matched by a sensitivity for the language and symbols of the Christian faith.  Moreover, various theologians—both Catholic and Protestants (Andrew Greely, Jerry H. Gill, Kate McCarthy, William D. Romanowski…)[5]—have noted how the work of Springsteen has a «redemptive» quality: it plays his symbols and his principal themes (street, car, darkness, love…) in a dialectic of damnation and hope, adopting frequent images and terms of the biblical tradition.


From visionary «flash» to dark stories

Springsteen, born in 1949 in a New Jersey small town, by 1965 played in the circuits of Greenwich Village of New York[6].  In 1972 an audition with the producer John Hammond opens the doors of dreams and so in 1973 he brings out his first album: Greetings From Asbury Park, N. J.  He who was launched as a kind of new Bob Dylan already presented an acerbic but personal style, that will allow him to move with a certain freedom between folk, rhythm n’blues and rock.  The scenarios of this album are composed of robbery, the underworld, drunk women, rhythmical drama on the road of escape.  In the piece Growing Up he seems to find the key of the universe in the rumble of an old car.  The restlessness of the twenty-three year old musician to his debut are distilled in a dizzying succession of flash and visions: these songs, Springsteen will say after years, «were flashes of lightning, authentic energy.  I wrote like in the grip of a fever.  I had no money, no place to go, nothing to do.  It was winter, it was cold and I wrote[7]».

His second disc, a collage of frames and extensive sequences held together by the piano, The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle (1974), marks the beginning of his collaboration with the «E Street Band».  Springsteen sings of the survival of the desperate searching for a landing, of a «redemption».  In that masterpiece that is New York City Serenade he sings: So shake it away, so shake away your street life/ shake away the city life and grab the first train.  The rapid visions of the first disc here already seem to begin to stretch out in the form of stories and descriptions.

Born To Run (1975) it the disc that make the Boss become one of the more acclaimed stars of world rock. From now on, the Springsteen «myth» is consolidated.  In this disc, he is framing the symbols of the world from which he comes in a cinema-photographic way: cage, rebellion, escape.  The direction is Northeast, that is Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel (Meeting Across The River and Jungleland), that becomes the cradle of misfits and outcasts.  The tensions he expresses in the power of the automobile, in the magic of the night and of the infinite direction of the street moves towards a longed for liberation in terms of the religious flavor.  Springsteen in fact uses words like faith, redemption, promised land, as far as invoking a savior: that from these streets a savior rises up. If the night is dark, the sidewalk is lighted / and covered by light and in the night it is possible to find a passage / for the soul.  We must believe, clenching the faith between our teeth.  The direction remains towards that place / where we really want to go / And finally we will walk in the sun / But until then vagabonds like us / We were born to run.

In 1978 Darkness On The Edge Of Town comes out.  Springsteen relishes the realization of his dream of success, but he is aware that it is only «an illusion of salvation»[8].   And then the question: «Where is the man OK with his guitar?  What is my place in the world?»[9]  The question opens gloomy scenarios and night time sequences in the white and black of strong contrasts.  The objective is not focused on the escape, but on the difficulties of the journey.  Yet again, the religious language becomes a way to tell the purely human experience.  In Adam Raised A Cain—inspired by the novel East of Eden by Steinbeck—Springsteen sings of the his relationship with his father telling of an inherited sin and of coming into the work paying / for the sins of the past of somebody else.  Clearly, even if the words used are those of the faith, the vision is gloomy and, in desperate strokes, unacceptable for an illuminated prospective of Christian hope.

Springsteen’s poetry rings in consonance with that of the writer Flannery O’Connor who John Landau, reviewer for the magazine Rolling Stone and then his manager, advised him to read[10].  Although he is not able to fully grasp the theological depth of Catholic writers, the reading of these writers was for him a «great, great revelation»[11].  This reading, matured to the threshold of 30 years, produced a notable effect.  Springsteen became passionate about the story A Good Man Is Hard To Find, so much so that he wrote a song with the same title, and for the novel Wise Blood, as well as then to the movie by John Huston in 1979.  Hazel Motes precisely, the protagonist of this novel, affirms that «nobody needs justification if he goes around in a good car».  This phrase could be put in the mouth of the characters of Springsteen’s songs[12]:  in fact, all are, really or metaphorically, embarked on a street, in a car, that is the place of justification, of absolution, of redemption.  The world of the Boss’s characters is gloomy.  For the poetry of O’Connor grace acts «in a territory held in great part by the devil»[13].  Springsteen seems however too blinded by darkness and by badlands, to use two of the many possible metaphors, to see the action of a form of «grace».  In any case, if there can be light, here it shines only if there is darkness.  Darkness On The Edge Of Town leaves man nailed to his own radical condition: sin.  You can make out the temptation that leads to a despairing attitude all too insisted.  Nevertheless he resists a form of redemptive tension, even if in a horizontal direction and therefore insufficient to reach the borders of a real salvation.  Maybe it appears from far away: we’ll run / up to the sea / And we’ll wash these sins from our hands (Racing in the street).  I am a man—he affirms again in The Promised Land—and I believe in a promised land.

In the double album The River (1980) the songs tell of sharp contrasts of states of soul between the lack of a center and the desire for escape between streets and rivers.  The dreams assume the form of an inexhaustible restlessness like in Hungry Heart, that the Swedish theologian Ola Sigurdson reads comparing it to the Confessions of Augustine[14], where it reads: «Our heart is restless until it rest in You».  The reading can appear too generic, because, basically, the heart of every man and woman is always restless.  However, in effect, in the song we notice the contrast between the affirmation that Everyone needs a place to rest / everyone wants to have a home and, on the other hand, the fact that the protagonist, while having a wife and kids, goes out for a spin and then doesn’t return home anymore and goes like a river that doesn’t know where it flows.  At the end, Springsteen rips out of himself a desire: And I wish that God would send me a word / Something to be afraid of losing (Drive all night).

in-concert-unpluggedIn 1982, when music video and postmodern and jazzy elaborations dominate the market, Springsteen comes out with the album Nebraska, that was defined as «resolutely and provocatively out of date» for the «monotone and simple singing, essential music, slow and unadorned»[15].  The songs are presented in the temporary, acoustic form without electric arrangement.  In faded scenarios, they are focused on human failures[16].  Beginning from this experience, Springsteen develops in symbolic terms and implicit poetry of sin, so to speak[17].  The song My Father’s House tells of the return of a son to his father’s house and the model is that of the «prodigal son», but reversed in its meaning.  The conclusion, is in fact bitter and disappointing: the father has moved or is no longer there and the house is cold and isolated / Shining beyond this dark highway where our sins / lie unatoned.  The Boss seems therefore to exclude an intervention that comes for on «high» and that is from above the ribbon of asphalt on which the car is launched.  After the tragedies of madness, images of emptiness, desolation, jail and execution, a last prayer is launched, a dry, sharp scream: free me from nothing (State Trooper).   Despite the gloomy tones, Nebraska however manages to distill even some words of compassion (cfr Highway Patrolman) and hope, like those that harbor in the long stanzas of Reason To Believe.  At the end, despite the daily tragedies, there is always that blind, incomprehensible hope that leads the characters to believe that at the end / people find something / reasons to believe.

In 1984 Born In The U.S.A. comes out, Springsteen’s true, great, world success.  The song that has given the album its name seemed to many a patriotic and triumphal hymn.  Reagan sought to use it in his election campaign.  It was a blunder: the strong and hard rhythms conceal a text that speaks of rage, disillusionment, frustration: I’m ten years burning down the road / Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go.  Yet again, Springsteen tells stories of hard times where the images of an angry vent, of a rainy fog, of a train that drags you down appear.  Sometimes—Springsteen writes—it’s like someone took a knife baby / edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley / through the middle of my soul (I’m On Fire).olland


A turning point in search of «human contact»

At the release of the next disc, Tunnel Of Love (1987), the magazine Rolling Stone comments that here «the Catholic education received by Springsteen can be clearly perceived; the protagonists pray repeatedly to be delivered from evil, stories of love are represented as a manifestation of divine grace»[18], beside those doubts and that perception of evil that we already recognize.  It’s no coincidence, therefore, that after the release of this disc, America¸ the U.S. Catholic weekly, dedicated a cover to the Boss.  The words are more interior.  Now on stage is the Leggi tutto “«The Resurrection» of Bruce Springsteen”

The first homily of the General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa S.J., translated into English

750x420x161015_gc36_thanksgiving_mass_arturo_sosa_sj_election_ie_250-750x420-jpg-pagespeed-ic-y63vnor4lrOctober 15, 2016

Dearest brothers,

A few days ago, in this same Church of the Gesù, where the remains of St Ignatius and Father Arrupe rest,  Fr. Bruno Cadorè invited us to have the audacity of the improbable as the proper attitude of people of faith who seek to witness it in the complex current events of Humanity.  He invited us to leave fear behind and to row towards the open sea as the attitude for being both creative and faithful during the General Congregation.

Certainly, the audacity we need to be servants of the mission of Jesus Christ flows only from faith.  Consequently, our gaze is in the first place directed to God, because only one is your Father in heaven, as the passage of the Gospel we just heard reminds us.  And, as the Formula Instituti at n. 1 reminds us “(the Jesuit) as long as he lives, first of all, to keep before his eyes God and then the nature of this Institute”.  Or rather, it is our whole heart that we want to have in tune with the Merciful Father.

If our faith is like that of Mary, the mother of Jesus and the Mother of the Society of Jesus, our audacity can go even further and seek not only the improbable, but the impossible, because nothing is impossible with God as the angel Gabriel proclaims in the scene of the Annunciation (Lk 1:37).  It is the same faith as St Theresa of Avila or St Teresa of Jesus, whose remembrance we celebrate today.  Even she, fearlessly, trusted the Lord to undertake the improbable and the impossible.

We ask, then, of the Lord for this faith, so that we also can make ours, as the Society of Jesus, the word of Mary in answering the extraordinary call she received: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: may it be done to me according to your word.  As Ignatius and the first Companions, like so many of our brothers served and serve under the standard of the cross only at the service of the Lord and of his Church, we also want to contribute to what seems impossible today: a Humanity reconciled in justice, that lives in peace in a common home well cared for, where there is a place for all of us because we recognize our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same and one only Father.

Therefore, we reiterate today St Ignatius’ conviction in writing the Constitutions: The Society was not instituted by human means; and it is not through them that it can be preserved and increased, but through the grace of the omnipotent hand of Christ our God and Lord, in Him alone must be placed our hope.

With hope placed in God and only in Him, the General Congregation will continue its deliberations and will contribute to the responsibility to maintain well and develop the whole of this body (Cons. 719).

Maintaining and developing the body of the Society is closely bound to the depth of the spiritual life of each one of its members and of the community in which we share the life and mission with our companions.  At the same time it takes an extraordinary intellectual depth to think creatively the ways through which our service to the mission of Jesus Christ can be more effective, in the creative tension of the Ignatian magis.  Thinking to understand in depth the moment of human history that we live and to contribute to the search for alternatives to overcome poverty, inequality and oppression.  To not cease thinking to propose the pertinent questions to theology and to deepen the understanding of the faith that we ask the Lord to increase in us.

We are not alone.  As companions of Jesus, we too wish to follow the path of the incarnation, to become like the human beings who suffer the consequences of injustice.  The Society of Jesus will be able to develop only in collaboration with others, only if it becomes the least collaborator Society.  Beware of the language traps.  We want to increase collaboration, not only seek others who collaborate with us, with our works as if we do not want to lose the prestige of the position of the one who has the last word. We want to collaborate generously with others, within and outside of the Church, in the awareness, that comes from the experience of God, of being called to the mission of Jesus Christ, that does not belong to us exclusively, but that we share with so many men and women consecrated to the service of others.

In the journey of collaboration, with the grace of God, we even find new companions to also increase the number, always least to great that is, of collaborators with others invited to be part of this body.  There is no doubt regarding the need to increase our prayer and our work for vocations to the Society and to continue the complex commitment to offer formation that makes them true Jesuits, members of this multicultural body called to witness the wealth of interculturality as the face of humanity, created and in the image and likeness of God.

We take today for us the words of the apostle Paul: the God of perseverance and of comfort grant you to have towards one another the same feelings as Jesus Christ, so that with one mind and one voice we give glory to God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Church of the Gesù in Rome October 15, 2016

(translation by Reyanna Rice. The original text is in Italian)



La prima omelia del Generale dei Gesuiti, p. Arturo Sosa SJ

cuzcwltxgaayypoCarissimi fratelli,

pochi giorni fa, in questa stessa Chiesa del Gesù, dove riposano i resti di Sant’Ignazio e Pedro Arrupe, p. Bruno Cadorè ci ha invitati ad avere l’audacia dell’improbabile come l’atteggiamento proprio delle persone di fede che cercano di testimoniarla nella complessa attualità dell’Umanità. Ci ha invitati a lasciare indietro la paura e a remare verso il largo come l’atteggiamento per essere nello stesso tempo creativi e fedeli durante la Congregazione Generale.

Certo, l’audacia della quale abbiamo bisogno per essere servitori della missione del Cristo Gesù può sgorgare soltanto dalla fede. Perciò il nostro sguardo è in primo luogo indirizzato a Dio, perché uno solo è il Padre vostro, quello del cielo, come ci ricorda il brano del Vangelo appena ascoltato. E come ci ricorda la Formula Instituti al n.1: “(il gesuita)

faccia in modo di avere dinanzi agli occhi, finché vivrà, prima di ogni altra cosa, Iddio, e poi la forma di questo suo Istituto”. Anzi, è il cuore intero che vogliamo avere in sintonia col Padre Misericordioso, il Dio che è solo Amore, il nostro Principio e Fondamento. Il cuore di ciascuno di noi e anche il cuore del corpo della Compagnia.

Se la nostra fede è come quella di Maria, la mamma di Gesù e la Madre della Compagnia di Gesù, la nostra audacia può andare ancora più avanti e cercare non solo l’improbabile, ma l’impossibile, perché nulla è impossibile a Dio come proclama l’arcangelo Gabriele nella scena dell’Annunciazione (Lc 1,37). È la stessa fede di Santa Teresa di Avila o Santa Teresa di Gesù, la cui memoria celebriamo oggi. Anche lei, senza paura, si è fidata del Signore per intraprendere l’improbabile e l’impossibile.

Chiediamo, dunque, al Signore questa fede, perché possiamo fare anche nostre, come Compagnia di Gesù, le parole di Maria nel rispondere alla straordinaria chiamata ricevuta: ecco la serva del Signore: avvenga per me secondo la tua parola. Come Ignazio e i primi Compagni, come tanti confratelli che hanno militato e mìlitano sotto il vessillo della croce soltanto al servizio del Signore e della sua Chiesa, vogliamo anche noi contribuire a quanto oggi sembra impossibile: una Umanità riconciliata nella giustizia, che vive in pace in una casa comune ben curata, dove c’è posto per tutti quanti perché ci riconosciamo fratelli e sorelle, figli e figlie dello stesso e unico Padre.

Perciò ribadiamo anche oggi la convinzione di Sant’Ignazio nello scrivere le Costituzioni: Poiché la Compagnia non è stata istituita con mezzi umani, non può conservarsi né svilupparsi con essi, bensì con la mano onnipotente di Cristo Dio e Signor Nostro, in Lui solo è necessario riporre la speranza.

Con la speranza posta in Dio e soltanto in Lui la Congregazione Generale proseguirà le sue deliberazioni e contribuirà alla responsabilità di ben conservare e sviluppare tutto questo corpo (Cons. 719).

Conservare e sviluppare il corpo della Compagnia è strettamente legato alla profondità della vita spirituale di ciascuno dei suoi membri e delle comunità nelle quali condividiamo la vita e missione con i compagni. Allo stesso tempo ci vuole una straordinaria profondità intellettuale per pensare creativamente i modi attraverso i quali il nostro servizio alla missione del Cristo Gesù può essere più efficace, nella tensione creativa del magis ignaziano. Pensare per capire in profondità il momento della storia umana che viviamo e contribuire alla ricerca di alternative per superare la povertà, la ineguaglianza e la oppressione. Pensare per non smettere di proporre le domande pertinenti alla teologia e approfondire la comprensione della fede che chiediamo al Signore di aumentare in noi.

Non siamo soli. Come compagni di Gesù vogliamo anche noi seguire il cammino dell’incarnazione, diventare simili agli esseri umani che soffrono le conseguenze della ingiustizia. La Compagnia di Gesù potrà svilupparsi soltanto in collaborazione con altri, soltanto se diventa la minima Compagnia collaboratrice. Attenzione alle trappole del linguaggio. Vogliamo aumentare la collaborazione, non soltanto cercare altri che collaborino con noi, con le nostre opere perché non vogliamo perdere il prestigio della posizione di chi ha l’ultima parola. Vogliamo collaborare generosamente con altri, dentro e fuori dalla Chiesa, nella consapevolezza, proveniente dall’esperienza di Dio, di essere chiamati alla missione del Cristo Gesù, che non ci appartiene in esclusività, ma che condividiamo con tanti uomini e donne consacrati al servizio degli altri.

Nel cammino della collaborazione, con la grazia di Dio, troveremo anche nuovi compagni per aumentare anche il numero, sempre minimo per grande che sia, dei collaboratori con gli altri invitati a far parte di questo corpo. Non c’è nessun dubbio circa il bisogno di aumentare la nostra preghiera e il nostro lavoro per le vocazioni alla Compagnia e di continuare il complesso impegno di offrire la formazione che faccia di loro dei veri gesuiti, membri di questo corpo multiculturale chiamato a testimoniare la ricchezza della interculturalità come volto dell’umanità, creata a immagine e somiglianza di Dio.

Prendiamo dunque oggi per noi le parole dell’apostolo Paolo­: il Dio della perseveranza e della consolazione vi conceda di avere gli uni verso gli altri gli stessi sentimenti ad esempio di Cristo Gesù, perché con un solo animo e una voce sola rendiate gloria a Dio, Padre del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo.

Nella Chiesa del Gesù a Roma il 15 ottobre 2016

P. Arturo Sosa, el nuevo Padre General de la Compañía de Jesús

0-arturo-sosa-informalP. Arturo Sosa, venezolano, es el nuevo Padre General de la Compañía de Jesús.

Nació en Caracas el 12 noviembre de 1948.

— Licenciado en Filosofía en la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello.
— Estudió Teología en la Pontificia Universidad Gregoriana de Roma.
— Es doctor en Ciencias Políticas por la Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Director de la Revista SIC (1979-1996).
— Fue Profesor en la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, en la Universidad Central de Venezuela y en la Georgetown University, Washington, EEUU, impartendo clases de Historia de Ideas Políticas
— Superior Provincial de la Compañía de Jesús en Venezuela (1996-2004). —  Desde 2004 es Rector de la Universidad Católica del Táchira.
— Desde 2014 es miembro del Consejo del Prepósito General de la Compañía de Jesús.

Ha escrito una docena de libros sobre la democracia y dictadura en la Venezuela del siglo XX, el colonialismo y la emancipación en Venezuela, el pensamiento político venezolano.

Sus principales intereses son la espiritualidad ignaciana, la solidaridad con los más vulnerables, la migración y los refugiados, la reconciliación y el diálogo, l’apostolado intelectual.

Un artículo sobre la situación en Venezuela después el golpe de Estado de 2002 publicado en La Civiltà Cattolica 



Pape François: “AUJOURD’HUI L’ÉGLISE DOIT GRANDIR EN DISCERNEMENT”. Une rencontre privée avec quelques jésuites polonais

tumblr_ocmn1jp2zg1qz6bc9o1_1280Au cours de son voyage apostolique en Pologne à l’occasion de la 31e Journée mondiale de la jeunesse, le 30 Juillet, 2016, premières vêpres de saint Ignace de Loyola- à 17 heures, François a rencontré un groupe de 28 jésuites polonais qui sont membres des deux Provinces de la Compagnie de Jésus du pays et deux collaborateurs laïcs, accompagnés par les deux pères provinciaux : les pères Tomasz Ortman et Jakub Kolacz. Présents aussi à la réunion étaient trois autres jésuites: p. Andrzej Majewski, directeur des programmes à la Radio Vatican, p. Federico Lombardi, à l’époque directeur du Bureau de presse du Saint-Siège, et p. Antonio Spadaro, rédacteur en chef de La Civiltà Cattolica. La rencontre a eu lieu à l’archevêché de Cracovie, dans un climat d’une grande simplicité, spontanéité et cordialité, et même si elle n’a pas été dépourvue de contenu significatif à l’Ordre, il a également tenu une signification pour l’Église en général. Francis a salué toutes les personnes présentes, un par un, et il se concentre sur en particulier ceux qu’il avait connu dans le passé. Quand il était assis et a commencé le dialogue, l’écoute des questions posées et de répondre en italien, le P. Kolacz Ses paroles traduit en polonais, même si la majorité des personnes présentes a bien compris l’italien. Puis le Pontife a reçu des cadeaux. Avant de conclure la rencontre, d’une durée totale de 40 minutes, le Pape a voulu ajouter une recommandation facilement compréhensible dans le cadre de sa récente Magistère. Avec l’approbation du Saint-Père, nous rapportons ici le dialogue, dans son immédiateté, tout comme il est arrivé, même en conservant quelques souvenirs personnels. Il est conçu comme un témoignage qui, comme vous le lirez vous-même rassemble quelques impressions de l’expérience du Pontife avec les jeunes des JMJ et fournit également des lignes pastorales significatives.

Antonio Spadaro S.J.

Votre message est au cœur des jeunes. Comment parlez-vous à eux avec tant d’efficacité ? Pourriez-vous nous donner quelques conseils pour notre travail avec les jeunes?
Quand je parle, je dois regarder les gens dans les yeux. Il est impossible de regarder dans les yeux de chacun d’eux, mais je regarde dans les yeux de celui-ci, de celui-ci, de celui-ci … et tout le monde se sent que je les regarde. Il est quelque chose qui me vient spontanément. Voici comment je le fais avec les jeunes. Mais, les jeunes, Quand vous parlez avec eux, poser des questions … . Aujourd’hui au déjeuner, ils ont posé quelques questions … .Ils m’ont même demandé comment je me confesse! Ils n’ont pas le pouvoir discrétionnaire. Ils posent des questions directes. Et vous avez toujours besoin de répondre à une jeune personne avec la vérité. Un jeune homme m’a demandé: “Comment tu confesses?”. Et je commençais à parler de moi. Il m’a dit: «Dans mon pays, il y avait des scandales liés aux prêtres et nous n’avons pas le courage de nous confesser avec ces prêtres qui ont vécu ces scandales. Je ne peux pas le faire.”. Vous voyez: ils vous disent la vérité, parfois ils vous réprimandent … Les jeunes parlent directement. Ils veulent la vérité ou au moins la clarté.  «Je ne sais pas comment vous répondre». Vous ne trouverez jamais subterfuges avec les jeunes. Donc, avec la prière. Ils me demandaient: «Comment priez-vous?». Si vous répondez à une théorie, ils restent déçus. Les jeunes sont généreux. Mais le travail avec eux exige aussi de la patience, beaucoup de patience. L’un d’eux m’a demandé aujourd’hui: «Que dois-je dire à un ami qui ne croit pas en Dieu afin qu’il puisse devenir un croyant?». Ici, vous voyez que, parfois, les jeunes demandent «recettes». Ensuite, vous devez être prêts à corriger cette attitude qui exige des recettes et des réponses toutes prêtes. Je répondis: «Voyez que la dernière chose que vous devez faire est de dire quelque chose. Commencer à faire quelque chose. Puis il ou elle vous demandera des explications sur la façon dont vous vivez et pourquoi ». Ici, vous devez être direct, directement avec la vérité.

Quel est le rôle des universités jésuites?

Une université comme une ligne droite des jésuites doit pointer vers une formation globale, non seulement intellectuelle, une formation de toute la personne humaine. En fait, si l’université devient tout simplement une académie d’idées ou d’une «usine» de professionnels ou d’une mentalité centrée sur des affaires qui prévaut dans sa structure, alors il est vraiment hors des sentiers. Nous avons les Exercices à la main. Voici le défi: prendre l’université sur le chemin des Exercices. Cela signifie risquer sur la vérité, et non pas sur la «vérité fermée,” Que personne ne discute. La vérité de la rencontre avec les gens est ouverte et exige que nous nous laissons vraiment faire des enquêtes de la réalité. Et l’université jésuite doit être impliqué dans la vie réelle de l’Église et la Nation: aussi cette réalité est, en fait.

Une attention particulière doit être toujours accordée aux marginalisés, à la défense de ceux-ci ont plus besoin d’être protégés. Et cela est clair-it-est de ne pas communiste: il est tout simplement être vraiment impliqué avec la réalité. Dans ce cas, notamment une université jésuite doit être pleinement associé à la réalité l’expression de la pensée sociale de l’Eglise. La pensée du marché libre qui enlève l’homme et la femme du centre et met l’argent au centre n’est pas la nôtre. La doctrine de l’Eglise est claire et elle doit aller de l’avant dans ce sens.
Pourquoi êtes-vous devenu un jésuite?
Quand je suis entré au séminaire, je l’ai déjà eu une vocation religieuse. Mais à ce moment-là mon confesseur était anti-jésuite. J’ai aussi aimé les Dominicains et leur vie intellectuelle. Ensuite, je suis tombé malade et j’ai dû subir une chirurgie pulmonaire. Plus tard, un autre prêtre m’a aidé spirituellement. Je me souviens que lorsque j’ai dit au premier prêtre que j’étais entré chez les jésuites, il ne l’a pas bien reçu cette nouvelle. Mais ici, l’ironie du Seigneur s’est fait voir. En fait, à ce moment-là, ils recevaient les Ordres mineures. La tonsure s’est fait dans la première année de théologie. Le recteur m’a dit d’aller à Buenos Aires à l’évêque auxiliaire, Mgr. Oscar Villena, qui faisait la cérémonie de tonsure. Je suis allé à la Maison du Clergé, mais on m’a dit que Mons. Villena était malade. Il était à sa place un autre monseigneur qui était précisément ce premier prêtre qui avait alors devenu évêque! Et je reçu la tonsure précisement de lui! Et nous avons fait la paix après plusieurs années …. Mais, oui, je peux dire, mon choix de la Société a mûri par lui-même …

Il y a quelques prêtres récemment ordonnés dans ce groupe. Avez-vous des conseils pour leur avenir?

Vous savez: l’avenir est de Dieu. Le plus que nous pouvons faire est faisable. Et le possible sont tous du mauvais esprit! Un conseil: le sacerdoce est vraiment une grande grâce: votre sacerdoce comme un jésuite est trempé dans la spiritualité que vous avez vécu jusqu’à présent: la spiritualité du Suscipe de saint Ignace.

[A ce moment la rencontre semble être terminé jusqu’à la présentation au Pontife des dons de quelques jésuites qui ont suivi certains jeunes connectés à la spiritualité ignatienne qui sont venus de partout dans le monde pour les JMJ. François veut ensuite ajouter une recommandation et tout le monde s’assoit de nouveau.]

Je veux ajouter quelque chose maintenant. Je vous demande de travailler avec les séminaristes. Par-dessus tout, leur donner ce que vous avez reçu des Exercices: la sagesse du discernement. L’Église a besoin aujourd’hui de grandir dans la capacité de discernement spirituel. Certains programmes de formation sacerdotale courrent le risque de l’éducation à la lumière des idées trop claires et distinctes, et donc d’agir dans des limites et des critères qui sont rigidement définies a priori, et en septembre que les situations de côté concrètes “vous devez faire cela, vous ne devez pas faire …”. Et puis les séminaristes, quand ils deviennent prêtres, se trouvent en difficulté à accompagner la vie de tant de jeunes et d’adultes. Parce que beaucoup se demandent: «Pouvez-vous faire ceci ou pouvez-vous pas?”. Voilà tout. Et beaucoup de gens sont décus lorsqu’ils quittent la confession. Parce que le prêtre n’est pas mal, mais parce que le prêtre n’a pas la capacité de discerner les situations, de les accompagner dans le discernement authentique. Ils ne possèdent pas la formation nécessaire. Aujourd’hui, l’Eglise a besoin de grandir dans le discernement, dans la capacité à discerner. Et surtout les prêtres ont vraiment besoin pour leur ministère. Ceci est la raison pour laquelle nous devons enseigner aux séminaristes et prêtres en formation: ils sont ceux habituellement en qui on se confie, et ceux qui recoivent les confidences de la conscience des fidèles. La direction spirituelle n’est pas seulement un charisme sacerdotale, mais aussi un charisme laïc, c’est vrai. Mais, je le répète, vous devez enseigner ceci surtout aux prêtres, en les aidant à la lumière des Exercices sur la dynamique du discernement pastoral, qui respecte la loi mais il sait comment aller au-delà. Ceci est une tâche importante pour la Société. Une pensée du P. Hugo Rahner m’a souvent frappé. Il a écrit clairement et il a pesé clairement. Hugo a dit que le jésuite doit être un homme avec le nez pour le surnaturel ; qu’il doit être un homme doué d’un sens du divin et du diabolique liés aux événements de la vie humaine et de l’histoire. Le jésuite doit donc être capable de discerner dans la domaine de Dieu et dans la domaine du diable. Voilà pourquoi dans les Exercises, saint Ignace demande d’être introduit aux intentions du Seigneur de la vie et à ceux de l’ennemi de la nature humaine et à ses mensonges. Ce qu’il a écrit est audacieux, il est vraiment audacieux, mais le discernement est précisément cela! Nous avons besoin de former les futurs prêtres non aux idées générales et abstraites, qui sont claires et distinctes, mais à ce vif discernement des esprits afin qu’ils puissent aider les gens dans le concret de leurs vies. Nous devons vraiment comprendre ceci: dans la vie pas tout est noir sur blanc ou blanc sur noir. Non! Les nuances de gris prédominent dans la vie. Nous devons leur apprendre à discerner dans cette zone grise.

[La rencontre prend fin ici avant tout par la nécessité de poursuivre le programme de la journée porté à l’attention du Saint-Père par ses collaborateurs. Avant de prendre congé, cependant, Francis voulait une fois de plus saluer les jésuites une par une concluant avec une bénédiction finale.]

*** Le texte original est publié ici par la revue La Civiltà Cattolica: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/it/quaderni/articolo/3867/oggi-la-chiesa-ha-bisogno-di-crescere-nel-discernimento-un-incontro-privato-con-alcuni-gesuiti-polacchi-/


Papa Francisco: la alegría y las condiciones de vida en común

0,,18936356_303,00Lo que hay de común en los tres documentos más importantes del Papa Francisco — la exhortación apostólica Evangelii Gaudium, (La alegría del Evangelio), la encíclica Laudato Si, (sobre el cuidado de la casa común) y la exhortación Postsinodal Amoris Letitia, (sobre el amor en la familia) — es el tema de la alegría que aparece en distintas formas: gaudium, laudatio, letitia y esta alegría está vinculada a la idea de las condiciones de vida en común: la comunidad eclesial, el medio ambiente y la familia. Esta alegría se origina en la experiencia del encuentro con Jesucristo, “la alegría interna que llama y atrae a las cosas celestiales y a la propia salud de su alma, aquietándola y pacificándola en su Criador y Señor” (Ignacio de Loyola). La alegría del evangelio debe llegar a cristianos y no cristianos porque todo el mundo tiene el derecho de recibir el Evangelio, de allí que todos los cristianos estén permanentemente en una dinámica de salida hacia los demás. Otro núcleo fundamental de la enseñanza de Francisco es el discernimiento pues gracias a este se puede iluminar la realidad concreta de cada vida, este es un proceso que nos lleva a ser dóciles en el Espíritu, que nos invita a actuar con amor y misericordia en cada situación particular. Finalmente la preocupación del Papa es la de recontextualizar la doctrina al servicio de la misión pastoral de la Iglesia. La doctrina debe interpretarse en relación con el centro del Kerygma cristiano y a la luz del contexto pastoral en la que se aplica para la salus animarum.

J. M. Bergoglio sulla poesia: ha dimora di carne e peso di ali non ancora spiegate in volo

2014_03_27_18_06_19Il 19 settembre 2016 è morto p. Osvaldo Pol, gesuita argentino e poeta.

L’allora rettore del Colegio Máximo San José era p. Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Fu lui a scrivere una prefazione breve a una raccolta di sue poesie dal titolo De destierros y moradas.

In questo breve intervento il futuro Papa Francesco, ispirato dalla poesia del confratello, dà una definizione della parola poetica che colpisce per densità.

— Qui è riprodotto il testo di p. Bergoglio tradotto in italiano, a seguire l’originale e quindi alcune poesie di Osvaldo Pol.

Padre Osvaldo Pol, gesuita, ex alunno e oggi professore, ha scritto quasi tutti questi sonetti qui, a casa sua. Alcuni sono già stati pubblicati, altri appaiono per la prima volta.

Le facoltà di Filosofia e Teologia sono liete di presentare questo libro di sonetti dove, in linguaggio poetico, si esprime la sapienza teologica, che è il frutto più apprezzato dalla Compagnia di Gesù nel suo impegno accademico.

Può sembrare paradossale che un poeta parli, con linguaggio della terra, di esiliati dalla terra. Può sembrare paradossale ma non lo è, perché la parola poetica ha dimore di carne nel cuore dell’uomo e – al tempo stesso – sente il peso di ali che ancora non hanno spiccato il volo. Arduo dilemma, questo, che santa Teresa esprime poeticamente e misticamente: “Com’è duro quest’esilio!”.

San Miguel, 20 giugno 1981, nel cinquantenario del Colegio Máximo San José

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.I.




El Padre Osvaldo Pol, jesuita, ex-alumno y actual profesor, escribió casi todos estos sonetos en esta, su casa. Algunos fueron ya publicados, otros aparecen por primera vez.

Las Facultades de Filosofía y Teología se alegran en presentar este libro de sonetos donde, en lenguaje poético, se expresa la sabiduría teológica, que es el fruto más valorado por la Compañía de Jesús en su esfuerzo académico.

Parece paradójico que un poeta hable, con lenguaje de la tierra, de destierros. Parece paradójico pero no lo es, porque la palabra poética tiene moradas de carne en el corazón del hombre y -a la vez- siente la pesantez de una alas que todavía no han remontado su vuelo. Trabajoso dilema éste que expresa mística y poéticamente Santa Teresa: «qué duros estos destierros!»

San Miguel, 20 de junio de 1981, en el cincuentenario del Colegio Máximo de San José

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S. J.



Father Osvaldo Pol, Jesuit, former student and today professor, has written almost all these sonnets here, at his home.  Some are already published, others appear for the first time.

The faculty of Philosophy and Theology are pleased to present this book of sonnets where, in poetic language, theological wisdom is expressed, which is the fruit most appreciated by the Society of Jesus in his academic commitment.

It can seem paradoxical that a poet speaks, with the language of the land, of the exiles of the land.  It can seem paradoxical but it is not, because the poetic word has dwellings of flesh in the heart of man and—at the same time—it feels the weight of wings that have not yet taken flight.  Arduous dilemma, this, that St Therese expressed poetically and mystically: «How hard is this exile!»

San Miguel, June 20, 1981, the fiftieth anniversary of the Colegio Máximo San José

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S. J.



Sólo una muerte. Sólo una vida

Sólo una muerte para tanta vida.
Sólo una noche sosegada y larga
para abarcar los días con su carga
de ansiedad y memoria sostenida.

Nos bastará una sola muerte erguida
sobre la luz que envuelve y aletarga.
Sólo una muerte aséptica y amarga
para esta fiebre que cabalga henchida,

para esta libertad irrefrenable,
para esta guerra a que la sangre llama,
para este ardido viaje de la suerte,

para este grito tenso, inabarcable,
para este hambre que devora y clama…
Sólo una vida para tanta muerte.
La vida, la vida es

¿Por dónde puede la mañana asirse
y describir su vuelo la esperanza?
¿Por qué caminos la inquietud alcanza
la patria de la paz donde abatirse?

Sueñan los sueños cómo al viento unirse
y arribar a una lenta playa mansa.
La fiebre se hace fuego y no descansa
empujando la sangre hasta esparcirse.

Y la vida, la vida es este abrirse
hacia lo otro dolorosamente.
Es golpear en las puertas hasta herirse.

Es saber que la muerte torpemente
querrá cercarnos. Y a la vez sentirse
vivos por siempre, empecinadamente.


La experiencia

La experiencia
en intentar que el pájaro regrese
desde el extremo opuesto de la noche
y pose su cansancio
sobre tu abierto pecho adolescente.

Lo tomas en tus manos,
lo acaricias,
extraes de sus alas todo el viento
y mientras él se entrega a lo innombrable
tú te dejas volar.

Es fácil la experiencia.
Lo difícil
es dar con el momento
que te permita asesinar al pájaro
sin morir a su lado de tristeza.


Saber perder… es la sabiduría?

Decir adiós un día y otro día…
Dar por perdido lo que fué logrado.
Sentir que el verbo amar nos ha mostrado,
el corazón de la melancolía…

Ya no será lo mismo la alegría,
para siempre, sabremos que a su lado,
hay una sombra, un tiempo demarcado…
una puerta cerrada a la porfía.

Y no debe importar,
a lo acabado, le quedan mil comienzos todavía…
Aunque oscuro y desolado ande el sol…

Decir adios, negarse a la osadía
de pretender lo que nos fue negado…
Saber perder es la sabiduría.


Dios calla

Pudo sernos dolor y fue alegría.
Final… y fue comienzo y alborada.
Porque a veces se da… y frente a la nada
La plenitud nos crece como un día

Que no va hacia la noche y su acabada
Sombra tenaz, amenazante y fría,
Sino día que esgrime la osadía
De ser luz, sólo luz empecinada.

Pudo sernos aquello que temía
El corazón cuando agotado estalla
En la desesperanza y la agonía
Que lo aleja de Dios… Pero Dios calla
Para decirnos más. Y se extasía
Feliz el corazón tras su muralla.



Sentir que el vuelo encuentra su sentido
dejando lejos la inquietud que ha abierto
tanto indagar la noche en el incierto
ir y venir del corazón dolido.
Dejar que el alma se remanse. Henchido
abrir el pecho hacia el seguro puerto.
Y sembrarme a la sombra de ese huerto
que para mí tan solo ha florecido.
Tocar a Dios. Sentirme de Él tocado.
Y comprender entonces boquiabierto
el por qué y para qué de mi latido.
Y descubrir que el vuelo se ha trocado
en un vuelo más alto. Y que el desierto
era el solo refugio apetecido.




Los años van simplificando el caos.
Antes las cosas divagaban
de uno al otro extremo de mi cuarto.
Ni mías ni de sí mismas.
Ahora están afincándose seguras
aquí y allá
con recatados títulos y razones discretas,
apropiándose puestos y lugares,
imponiéndome su orden
y su método.
¿Será parte de la vida esta manera nueva
en que las cosas
van dictándome pautas de respeto,
sacralidades que antes no percibía,
grietas de donde viene la luz
y me reclaman?
¿O no será que llega
la hora de las despedidas?
Los libros, los retratos y las lámparas
que creí dominar
hoy me poseen.
La maravilla es que estoy a gusto.


Un ringraziamento a Emmanuel Sicre SJ che mi ha fatto conoscere la poesia di p. Pol 
Un ringraziamento a Giuseppe Romano per la traduzione in italiano
Un ringraziamento a Reyanna Rice per la traduzione in inglese


Basic criteria for the implementation of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia

carta_image_810_500_55_s_c1The Buenos Aires Pastoral Region (Argentina), where Cardinal Bergoglio used to work, encompasses the city of Buenos Aires and nearby cities, with a population of more than 13 million inhabitants. The Region is made up by more than 20 Bishops. Recently, they have sent their priests a document explaining their criteria on the potential access to sacraments of “the divorced who have entered a new union”. What makes this message particularly interesting is that it was sent to Pope Francis, who answered it with a letter stating that “the document is very good and thoroughly specifies the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia. There are no further interpretations”.  Therefore, the Bishops’ letter makes it possible to unambiguously recognize the correct interpretation of the papal document regarding the true scope of chapter VIII. The Pope also asked the Bishops to help disseminate the entire document, which is an invitation to consolidate marriages.

Buenos Aires Pastoral Region — Basic criteria for the implementation of chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia

Dear priests,

we have received with joy the exhortation Amoris laetitia, which invites us, above all, to encourage the growth of love between spouses and to motivate the youth to opt for marriage and a family. These are important issues that should never be disregarded or overshadowed by other matters. Francis has opened several doors in pastoral care for families and we are invited to leverage this time of mercy with a view to endorsing, as a pilgrim Church, the richness offered by the different chapters of this Apostolic Exhortation.

We will now focus on chapter VIII, since it refers to the “guidelines of the bishop” (300) in order to discern on the potential access to sacraments of the “divorced who have entered a new union”. We deem it convenient, as Bishops of the same Pastoral Region, to agree on some basic criteria. We present them without prejudice to the authority that each Bishop has over his own Diocese to clarify, complete or restrict them.

1) Firstly, we should remember that it is not advisable to speak of “permissions” to have access to sacraments, but of a discernment process in the company of a pastor. It is a “personal and pastoral discernment” (300).

2) In this path, the pastor should emphasize the fundamental proclamation, the kerygma, so as to foster or renew a personal encounter with the living Christ (cf. 58).

3) Pastoral accompaniment is an exercise of the “via caritatis”. It is an invitation to follow “the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement” (296). This itinerary requires the pastoral charity of the priest who receives the penitent, listens to him/her attentively and shows him/her the maternal face of the Church, while also accepting his/her righteous intention and good purpose to devote his/her whole life to the light of the Gospel and to practise charity (cf. 306).

4) This path does not necessarily finish in the sacraments; it may also lead to other ways of achieving further integration into the life of the Church: greater presence in the community, participation in prayer or reflection groups, engagement in ecclesial services, etc. (cf. 299)

5) Whenever feasible depending on the specific circumstances of a couple, especially when both partners are Christians walking the path of faith, a proposal may be made to resolve to live in continence. Amoris laetitia does not ignore the difficulties arising from this option (cf. footnote 329) and offers the possibility of having access to the sacrament of Reconciliation if the partners fail in this purpose (cf. footnote 364, recalling the teaching that Saint John Paul II sent to Cardinal W. Baum, dated 22 March, 1996).

6) In more complex cases, and when a declaration of nullity has not been obtained, the above mentioned option may not, in fact, be feasible. Nonetheless, a path of discernment is still possible. If it is acknowledged that, in a concrete case, there are limitations that mitigate responsibility and culpability (cf. 301-302), especially when a person believes he/she would incur a subsequent fault by harming the children of the new union, Amoris laetitia offers the possibility of having access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist (cf. footnotes 336 and 351). These sacraments, in turn, prepare the person to continue maturing and growing with the power of grace.

7) However, it should not be understood that this possibility implies unlimited access to sacraments, or that all situations warrant such unlimited access. The proposal is to properly discern each case. For example, special care should be taken of “a new union arising from a recent divorce” or “the case of someone who has consistently failed in his obligations to the family” (298). Also, when there is a sort of apology or ostentation of the person’s situation “as if it were part of the Christian ideal” (297). In these difficult cases, we should be patient companions, and seek a path of reinstatement (cf. 297, 299).

8) It is always important to guide people to stand before God with their conscience. A useful tool to do this is the “examination of con­science” proposed by Amoris laetitia 300, specifically in relation to “how did they act towards their children” or the abandoned partner. Where there have been unresolved injustices, providing access to sacraments is particularly outrageous.

9) It may be convenient for an eventual access to sacraments to take place in a discreet manner, especially if troublesome situations can be anticipated. At the same time, however, the community should be accompanied so that it may grow in its spirit of understanding and acceptance, without letting this situation create confusion about the teaching of the Church on the indissoluble marriage. The community is an instrument of mercy, which is “unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous” (297).

10) Discernment is not closed, because it “is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can ena­ble the ideal to be more fully realized” (303), according to the “law of gradualness” (295) and with confidence in the help of grace.

Above all, we are pastors. This is why we would like to welcome the following words of the Pope: “I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen [to the faithful] with sensitivity and seren­ity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church” (312).

With love in Christ,

The Bishops of the Region

5 September, 2016


Vatican City, 5 September, 2016

To the Bishops of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region, Mons. Sergio Alfredo Fenoy, Delegate of the Region

Dear brother,

I received the document of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region entitled “Basic criteria for the implementation of chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia”. Thank you very much for sending it, and let me congratulate you on the work that you have undertaken: a true example of accompaniment of priests…and we all know how necessary it is for a bishop to stay close to his priests and for priests to stay close to their bishop.  The bishop’s “neighboring” neighbor is the priest, and the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself begins, for us bishops, precisely with our priests.

The document is very good and thoroughly specifies the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia. There are no further interpretations.  And I am confident that it will do much good.

May the Lord reward this effort of pastoral charity. And it is precisely pastoral charity that drives us to go out to meet the strayed, and, once they are found, to initiate a path of acceptance, discernment and reinstatement in the ecclesial community. We know this is tiring, it is “hand-to-hand” pastoral care which cannot be fully addressed with programmatic, organizational or legal measures, even if these are also necessary. It simply entails accepting, accompanying, discerning, reinstating.

Out of these four pastoral attitudes the least refined and practised is discernment; and I deem it urgent to include training in personal and community discernment in our Seminaries and Presbyteries. Finally, I would like to recall that Amoris laetitia resulted from the work and prayers of the whole Church, with the mediation of two Synods and the Pope. For this reason, I recommend a full catechesis of the Exhortation, which will, most certainly, contribute towards the growth, consolidation and holiness of the family. Once again, thank you for your work and let me encourage you to carry on studying and teaching Amoris laetitia in the different communities of the dioceses. Please, do not forget to pray and to remind others to pray for me.

May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin take care of you.




La riforma e le riforme nella Chiesa: gli atti del Seminario di Civiltà Cattolica

047730 specialisti – ecclesiologi, storici, ecumenisti, canonisti ed esperti di pastorale – ai massimi livelli, provenienti da tredici diversi paesi, riprendono la questione della necessità di riforme nella Chiesa (Ecclesia semper reformanda), considerando in particolare il rinnovamento richiesto dal concilio Vaticano II. Sviscerano e sviluppano il tema, avendo lo scopo di offrire, con umiltà e audacia, un contributo di ispirazione ai processi che la Chiesa sta vivendo in questo tempo sotto la guida di Francesco.

A cinquant’anni dalla chiusura del Vaticano II, la ricezione del concilio può dirsi semplicemente conclusa? Fra quanto già allora fu prospettato e l’implementazione che ne è seguita, non vi sono temi o istanze da riesaminare? Non è questione soltanto di rinnovare con lucidità e coraggio strutture e istituzioni, ma anche di convertirsi sempre di nuovo a una mentalità evangelica, missionaria, aperta, «in uscita».

img_1945Nei diversi contributi offerti in questo libro da un gruppo internazionale di teologi, sotto l’egida de La Civiltà Cattolica col suo direttore,il gesuita p. Antonio Spadaro, e con la guida dell’argentino Carlos María Galli, vengono affrontati argomenti ricchi e complessi. Dopo una sezione sulla visione che papa Francesco ha della riforma della Chiesa e una riflessione sulle fonti permanenti del rinnovamento ecclesiale, si susseguono interventi puntuali sulle lezioni che vengono dalla storia, sulla comunione sinodale come chiave – a tutti i livelli – della vita e del rinnovamento del popolo di Dio, sulla questione dell’unità dei cristiani, per concludere con uno sguardo articolato verso una realtà di Chiesa più povera, più fraterna e più inculturata.

Gli autori – ecclesiologi, storici, ecumenisti, canonisti, pastoralisti –, lungi dal limitarsi a una discussione accademica, intellettualmente accattivante ma poco praticabile, esprimono volta per volta indicazioni su come approfondire e articolare le riforme della Chiesa, nei loro aspetti vitali e strutturali, suggerendo criteri di azione e ipotesi concrete per la prassi (a breve, medio e lungo termine).
Un libro di grande rilievo sotto il profilo teologico, gravido di conseguenze pastorali e istituzionali. Un umile ma audace contributo di ispirazione ai processi che la Chiesa sta vivendo sotto la guida di papa Francesco.

Questi i nomi del gruppo internazionale di autori e autrici che hanno contribuito al volume:6f5ccd01-7a36-4349-b603-e75af2fc5875
Alphonse Borras (Belgio); Piero Coda (Italia); Mario de França Miranda, sj (Brasile); Peter de Mey (Belgio); Severino Dianich (Italia) Massimo Faggioli (Stati Uniti); Joseph Famerée, sci (Belgio) Diego Javier Fares, sj (Argentina); Víctor Manuel Fernández (Argentina) José Mario C. Francisco, sj (Filippine); Carlos María Galli (Argentina) William Henn, ofm cap (Stati Uniti); Hervé Legrand, op (Francia) Angelo Maffeis (Italia); Mary Melone, sfa (Italia); Serena Noceti (Italia) John W. O’Malley, sj (Stati Uniti); Giancarlo Pani, sj (Italia); Salvador Pié-Ninot (Spagna); Hermann J. Pottmeyer (Germania); Andrea Riccardi (Italia); Gilles Routhier (Canada); Léonard Santedi Kinkupu (Rep. Dem. del Congo); Jorge A. Scampini, op (Argentina); Juan Carlos Sca nnone, sj (Argentina); Silvia Scatena (Italia); Carlos Schickendantz (Cile); Antonio Spadaro, sj (Italia); Dario Vitali (Italia); Myriam Wijlens (Olanda)