What did Pope Francis say to the Jesuits since he was elected?

Pope Francis visits delegates of General Congregation 36.
Pope Francis visits delegates of General Congregation 36.

This article, written by fr. Elías Royón S.J., was published originally in Italian on La Civiltà Cattolica . Download and read the origianl version here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/3990.pdf

In these years of Francis’ pontificate, he has addressed the Jesuits many times, so that the Society gathered in the General Congregation had already, in some way, a «previous discourse» of Pope Francis that can serve the Jesuits as inspiration and guide them on their path.  A «previous» discourse of a «big brother» as Laynez called Faber[1], but a big brother who is the Pope, to whom we, «with renewed impulse and fervor»[2], offer our vow of obedience, taken into consideration since the beginning of the Society «as our first and principal foundation»[3].

What we have called the «previous discourse» is composed of different allocutions that Pope Francis has addressed to the Jesuits.  They are placed in clear continuity with this discourse.  They gratefully make memory of a past that is passionately present:  the graces of the Lord that have identified us and continue to identify us with the Society.  «We are called to recover our memory, to make memory, calling to mind the benefits received and the particular gifts» (Esercizi Spirituali [ES], n. 234)[4].

A Pope who is a Jesuit makes «memory», but he must be Pope first for us rather than Jesuit.  If other Popes have reminded us of these graces, Francis does it knowing them from within our condition as Jesuits.  With some frequency, he is recognized explicitly Jesuit: he explains, with simplicity, almost softly, but without twisting words, the great and strong characteristics of our spirituality and identity.

What has the Pope said to us?  This is what we propose to demonstrate in this article, with the awareness, however, of the difficulties it entails.  We will try to be as objective as possible in presenting the characteristic themes, even though we are all inclined to select those aspects that agree better with our theological, pastoral, social, and even religious and spiritual sensibilities, but we must make an effort to welcome all the reflections that the Pope offers us broadmindedly and with generosity of spirit, above all when they recommit us to our way of living and to our mission.

Centrality of Christ

Our characteristic monogram, IHS, points us to—the Pope said on the feast of St Ignatius in 2013[5]—a reality that we must never forget: the centrality of Christ for each one of us for the entire Society.  Jesus is our center and sole reference.  It follows that every Jesuit and the body of the Society must always be «decentralized», never becoming «self-referential»; this displacement leads us to have before our eyes «the God always greater» who continually draws us out of ourselves and pushes us to a certain kenosis, to «go out of his self-love, will and interest» (ES n. 189).

To the serene proposal, but essential for our vocation, he added the suggestion of a question not taken for granted by all of us: is Christ the center of my life?  Do I truly put Christ at the center of my life?  The Pope does not exclude the eventuality that this «centering» our existence in Christ remains subjected to the temptation of thinking of ourselves being at the center.  «And in this case the Jesuit is wrong» Francis clearly says.

The same idea returns, some months later, in the homily for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 2, 2014).  We Jesuits want to be distinguished with the name of Jesus, which means having the same feelings as Jesus.  But the heart of Christ is the heart of a God who through love is «emptied».  Each one of us must be disposed to empty himself.  In this circumstance Pope Francis uses the term «emptied himself» rather than «decentered himself» with a reference to the Christological hymn of the Letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:5-11).

We are called to be «emptied», Francis comments, men who must not be living centered on themselves, because the center of the Society of Jesus is Christ and his Church.  And the Pope draws attention on the consequence that persists in distancing ourselves from a similar «decentralization»: «If the God of surprises is not at the center it disorients the Society»

In the interview released by Fr. Spadaro, in September of 2013, the Pope is asked how the Society can serve the Church today, with what peculiar traits, and what risks may threaten it.  The answer is long and touches on diverse questions, but the first words are clear: «The Jesuit is a person who is not centered in himself.  The Society itself also looks to a center outside itself; its center is Christ and his Church.  […] If it looks too much in upon itself, it puts itself at the center as a very sold, very well “armed” structure, but then it runs the risk of feeling safe and self-sufficient»[6].

Feeling ourselves «safe and sufficient» is the danger that threatens the Society and is in contrast, according to the Pope, to the «being» of the Jesuit.  Francis speaks of the Jesuit and all the Society; «being decentered» is the attitude precisely not only of every Jesuit, but of the entire body of the Society.  A security and institutional sufficiency, that have often threatened the history of the Society, contradict its most original roots and most glorious moments in how it is marked by martyrdom.

Francis leads us to our strongest identifying roots: the Spiritual Exercises.  In them we are taught to ask of the Lord «to love him and follow him more» as a prayerful expression of our desire to identify ourselves with the poor and humble Christ that is formulated in the «meditation on the two standards», of our desire «to be received under his standard» (ES 147).  The Spirit leads us to that «third degree of humility», the synthesis of Ignatian mysticism in identification with Christ: «imitate and be in reality more like Christ our Lord, I desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, rather than riches; insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors; I desire to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world» (ES 167).

The Exercises are a personal experience that «conform» the Jesuit to Him who called him to this vocation, but their dynamic of imitation and of following Christ «forms» the entire body of the Society in the Constitutions (Cost.) as the «way» to realize the Ignatian charism in the Church.

Ignatius had the audacity to present, to those who wanted to enter into the Society, the prospect that they must « they desire to suffer injuries, false accusations, and affronts, and to be held and esteemed as fools (but without their giving any occasion for this), 5because of their desire to resemble and imitate in some manner our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ» (Cost. 101).

This «conformation» of the Society to Christ is revealed in the experience at La Storta, interpreted from the first moment as an «institutional grace» and not simply as a personal grace of Ignatius.  The elements of the vision are based on the choice of Ignatius and of his companions, the Society, on the part of the Father, to be placed with the Son who takes the cross upon himself.  Thus are we granted the grace to be received under the standard of Christ in poverty and humility.  The 35th General Congregation comments regarding this: « We Jesuits, then, find our identity not alone but in companionship: in companionship with the Lord, who calls, and in companionship with others who share this call. Its root is to be found in Saint Ignatius’s experience at La Storta» (D II, 3).

The Society will be «safe» and it will feel «sufficient» not when it will look to itself, but will know to live with the desire to conform itself to the poor and humble Christ of the Exercises, to the God incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, the ultimate model of «decentralization» in history.  This is the identity that the Pope recalls to us with so much clarity and insistence.

And when Ignatius and his companions wanted to present to the Church, with the approval of the Society, a synthesis of its identity in the Formula dell’Istituto, they did not hesitate to place God at the center: the first concern of the Jesuit must be that of «having in front of his eyes, always, before any other thing, God» (curet primo Deum).  Pope Francis leads us here with almost the same words.  At the same time, to define the identity of the Society, in the Formula a strong accent is place on the cross: «Anyone who wants to soldier for God under the banner of the cross in our Society and to serve only the Lord and the Roman Pontiff, his vicar on earth…»[7].

The Formula then warns us about the need to examine ourselves to unmask deceptions: «ponder long and seriously, as the Lord has counseled, whether they possess among their resources enough spiritual capital to complete this tower» (n. 4).  Only thus will personal and apostolic discernment, the discrete caritas, availability, the strength of the magis for a bigger and better missionary service, the experience of friendship among «companions of Jesus» be possible:  well-known, these, both identify us and ensure «the preservation and growth of this whole body» (Cost. 814).

Pope Francis reminded the Society of one of the more meaningful moments of its humiliation and identification with Christ.  In the Solemn Vespers of September 27, 2014, on the anniversary of the bicentennial of the restoration of the Society, he said: «The Society – and this is beautiful – lived the conflict to the end, without minimizing it. It lived humiliation along with the humiliated Christ; it obeyed.  […]  Let us remember our history: “the Society was given the grace not only to believe in the Lord, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). We do well to remember this»[8].

jesuitssymbolAt the service of the Church

To this centrality of Crist is united the centrality of the Church, and Francis expresses this idea with a metaphor:  «They are two fires that cannot be separated»[9].  The Pope starts from an affirmation valid for every Christian: «You cannot follow Christ if not in the Church and with the Church» and he applies it specifically to the Jesuits:  «And in this case too we Jesuits — and the entire Society — are not at the center, we are, so to speak, a corollary, we are at the service of Christ and of the Church, the Bride of Christ Our Lord, who is our holy Mother the hierarchical Church (cf. EE, 353)»[10].

To this concept so Ignatian, Pope Francis also made a reference in the letter that on March 16, 2013, three days after his election, he wrote to the Father General.  In it, he thanked him for the full availability to «to continue serving the Church and the Vicar of Christ unconditionally, in accordance with the precept of St Ignatius of Loyola».  And then he offers his prayers for all the Jesuits, «so that — faithful to the charism they have received and in the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order — with their pastoral action, and above all with the witness of a life dedicated without reserve to serving the Church, Bride of Christ — they may be a Gospel leaven in the world, tirelessly seeking the glory of God and the good of souls»[11].

This first message of a Jesuit Pope to the Society cannot pass unnoticed.   It is not just simple, formal expressions, nor is it only a courtesy letter: in it is expressed the core that most identifies our vocation.  The letter is short, and almost all addressed to recalling our special relations with the Church and the Roman Pontiff.  In it there is no explicit reference to the fourth vow, but he mentions it there: «in accordance with the precept of St Ignatius of Loyola»; and he reiterates the idea of service: «to continue serving the Church and the Vicar of Christ unconditionally […], a life dedicated without reserve to serving the Church, Bride of Christ».

In the homily he proclaimed for the Feast of St Ignatius in 2013, the Pope insisted on the fact that it is a unique «centrality» with two dimensions.  Therefore, he can say in no uncertain terms: «Serving Christ is loving this actual Church, and serving her generously and in a spirit of obedience».

The Jesuit must love and serve a concrete and historic Church.  Ignatius urges us to love the Church that is a pilgrim in this world, subjected to temptation, and formed by weak men and sinners, needy of the mercy of the Father.  In the interview released by Fr. Spadaro, Pope Francis presents his image of Church: «It is that of the holy, faithful people of God».  To think with the Church, for Francis, means being in the midst of this people.  «It is the experience of the “holy mother hierarchical Church”, […] the Church as the people of God, pastors and people together.  The Church is the totality of the people of God»[12].

How to serve the Church

The Pope emphasizes a principal of behavior of the Jesuit and of the Society in the Church: «There can be no parallel or isolated paths»[13].  Then «shortcuts» built by ourselves are of no value, where we may feel ourselves «safe» and «sufficient», nor views of the world beginning from our center.  Here he presents a temptation to us, when we want to take decisions beginning from «our center», and not from the «center» of Christ and his Church.  Then we lose the capacity to apostolically discern—knowing how God and the Church want to make use of the Society—and to examine ourselves and tell ourselves truly how we are, where we turn our gaze, what are our horizons.

The Society will find itself in many apostolic fields, but always in the Church, «with this belonging that gives us the courage to go ahead».  And the Pope makes reference to the two values of research and peripheries: «Yes, ways of research, creative ways, this is indeed important: to move out to the periphery, the many peripheries. For this reason creativity is vital, but always in community, in the Church».

Pope Francis urges us to be present in two important and current missionary horizons:  research and peripheries, in whatever their modality, and to develop in them great creativity, but always «in the Church», «avoiding the spiritual illness of self-referentiality».  And to give strength to his affirmation regarding the Society, he adds: «When the Church becomes self-referential she too falls ill and ages»[14].

The Pope then points out another way to serve the Church: that of serving the Roman Pontiff, collaborating with his ministry.  In the celebration of the bicentennial of the restoration of the Society, referring to the words of Pope Pius VII in the Bull of restoration, he asks the Jesuits to be «brave and expert rowers»[15], and immediately after he urged them thus: «Row, be strong, even against a headwind! We row in the service of the Church. We row together!».  Therefore, the Pope invites us to row with him, because «the boat of Peter can be tossed about today».  The service that Francis asks of us is realized in the Church and in help to the Roman Pontiff: «to row with him».

This idea is linked with what many Popes have asked of the Society, but had special importance in the discourse of the Pope Emeritus at the 35th General Congregation (2008).  Pope Benedict told us that he counts on the Society, that he wants us to be loyal collaborators; and he pushed us to fulfill the important and difficult service of making ourselves «loyally take on the Church’s fundamental duty to remain faithful to her mandate and to adhere totally to the Word of God and to the Magisterium’s task of preserving the integral truth and unity of Catholic doctrine»[16].

12662677_10153857833672508_8503738987257899039_n-740x493The Jesuit, a sinful man

To the question addressed to him by Fr. Spadaro: «Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?», the Pope gave a surprising answer: «I am a sinner».  Then he reinforces his answer: «This is the most accurate definition.  It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre.  I am a sinner».  And immediately after he affirms: «I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon».  To us Jesuits the words from the 32nd GC come to mind, when there we were asked: «What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus» (D II, 1).  Father Bergoglio had taken part at that Congregation, and definitely these words now resonate in his heart: he is defining himself as a Jesuit.

In the homily for the Feast of St Ignatius of 2013, Pope Francis speaks of the «shame of the Jesuit».  Contemplating the crucified Christ, in the first week of the Exercises, we are taken by the feeling, so human and so noble, that is the shame of not being good enough.  «And this always brings us, as individuals and as the Society, to humility, to living this great virtue.  […]  Humility that spurs us to put our whole self not into serving ourselves or our own ideas, but into the service of Christ and of the Church, as clay vessels, fragile, inadequate and insufficient, yet which contain an immense treasure that we bear and communicate»[17].

The Pope does not speak of a humility that is confused or that is expressed with devout acts, but he refers to the humility that identifies us with Jesus Christ poor and humiliated, with God incarnate on the cross, both when we must confront misunderstandings and when we become objects of misunderstandings and calumnies; but this is the more fertile attitude.  And the Pope cites the Chinese rites, the Malabar rites, the Reductions of Paraguay, misunderstandings and problems experienced also in recent times[18].

This humility is throughout all of the spirituality of the Society, and finds expression in these two terms, apparently contradictory, that also complete the identity of the Society: magis and minima.  These two correlative terms makes sense only when they supplement each other.  The Ignatian «more» is always the desired answer–«because the more you love him and follow him»—, that pushes the Jesuit to desire poverty and humiliation more than wealth and honors, to imitate and follow Jesus Christ more.

The «more» understands the «less», and is realized in «diminshing», that is the true humility.  The Society is «least» in its identity, because that implies «being submissive… and serving…».  Apostolic magis is then composed of inquiry, gratuity and availability, that lead us to «diminish», to not be at the center, to leave our security and «in Him alone must be placed the hope» (Cost. 812).

tumblr_ocmn1jp2zg1qz6bc9o1_1280The Jesuit, man of open thought, of great desires, always in search

In the interview cited, the Pope affirms that the Jesuit is a man «of incomplete thought, of open thought».  And he explains the reason: «The Jesuit thinks again and again, looking to the horizon, toward which he must advance, with Christ at the center.  This is his true strength».  In effect his «decentralization» keeps him in search, makes him creative, generous.

Pope Francis returns to this idea in the homily of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, January 3, 2014.  The Jesuits are men in search, because «they think always looking to the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us. And this is the restlessness of our inner abyss. This holy and beautiful restlessness!».

Francis holds present that which most characterized St Ignatius and his spirituality: the search for the will of God, so meaningfully manifested in Ignatius’ Autobiography, when he defines himself as «the pilgrim».  The Pope speaks of restlessness of the heart—because God is surprise—, that he asks: «What does God want of me?».  Here the ultimate end of the spiritual process of the Exercises, the fruit of the long Jesuit formation to learn to seek and to find God in all things finds meaning.  To find the will of God is the object of the tool so Ignatian that is discernment.

Pope Francis is leading us «For where the Society’s first members have passed through» to revive the gift, in a way that, with the grace of God, we may push ourselves «or to go farther in the Lord» (Cost. 81).  He is leading us to the Preface of the Constitutions, that exhort us to be guided, more than from Rules and external observance, «the interior law of charity and love which the Holy Spirit writes and imprints upon hearts» (Cost. 134).

And so in order to not deceive ourselves, once again the Pope proposes to make this examination of conscience: «if our heart has preserved the restlessness of the search or if instead it has atrophied; if our heart is always in tension: a heart that does not rest, that does not close in on itself but beats to the rhythm of a journey undertaken together with all the people faithful to God».  It is not only a spiritual restlessness, but «a restlessness that is also apostolic […].   It is the restlessness that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without restlessness we are sterile».  And again he warns us: «May our gaze, firmly fixed on Christ, be prophetic and dynamic in looking to the future. Thus you will remain ever young and bold in interpreting events!»[19].

In addition, the Pope present Faber with this characteristic trait: a restless spirit, indecisive, never satisfied, who learns, under the guidance of Ignatius, to unite his restless, but sweet, sensibility with the capacity to take decisions.  A man of great desires, of great aspirations.  In his desires, Faber was able discern the voice of God.

And the Pontiff added the apostolic aspect of such desires: «An authentic faith always involves a profound desire to change the world»[20].  Francis recalls the Constitutions: «we help our neighbor by the desires we present to the Lord our God» (Const. 638).  In effect, in the Spiritual Exercises, in the letters and in the Constitutions[21] Ignatius urges us very often to nourish «the good and great desires» and to concentrate them in Jesus Christ.  He made it a personal experience in his spiritual process, as referred to in the Diary and in the Autobiography.

Looking to Faber, Pope Francis asks us: «Do we also have great vision and impetus? Are we also daring? Do our dreams fly high? Does zeal consume us? Or are we mediocre and satisfied with our “made in the lab” apostolic programs?»[22]  Still in the homily of January 3, 2014, the Pope mentions the Church as a reference for the Society: «Let us always remember: the Church’s strength does not reside in herself and in her organizational abilities, but it rests hidden in the deep waters of God. And these waters stir up our aspirations and desires expanding the heart. It is as St Augustine says: pray to desire and aspire to expand the heart»[23]

resizeThe Jesuit, man of the frontier

In the audience with La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis defines us as men of the frontier: «Your proper place is at the frontier. This is the place of Jesuits.  […] Please, be men of the frontier, with that capacity that comes from God”.  There is never a lack to that allusion of the center of the identity of the Jesuit, the place from which these notes of his «profile» can flow, in the Pope.

And he specifies also how he needs to go towards the frontier: «do not give in to the temptation of domesticating these frontiers: it is essential to go out to the frontiers but not to bring frontiers home to touch them up with a little varnish and tame them».  And he again defines the Jesuit’s mission as service for the Church: «It is a question of supporting the Church’s action in all the fields of her mission».

In the interview released by Fr. Spadaro, Pope Francis clarifies his thought on the frontier a bit more: «I am referring in a particular way to the need for those who work in the world of culture to be embedded into the context in which they work and on which they reflect».  Evidently, he was making a reference to the work of thinkers and writers; but then he enlarges his thought and states: «There is always the lurking danger of living in a laboratory.  […]  I am afraid of laboratories because the problems are taken to the laboratory, and then taken home so as to be tamed, to paint them out of their context.  You cannot bring the frontier home, but you have to live on the border and be bold»[24]

The faith is always an inculturated faith, a faith that is way, a faith that is history:  God is made flesh revealing himself in a concrete history. Here the reference is Father Arrupe and his letter to the CIAS (Centros de Investigación y Acción Social), that the Pope defined as «genial»; in it is clearly said that you cannot speak of poverty if you do not experience it[25].

In the celebration of the bicentennial of the restoration of the Society, Pope Francis summarized the work of the Society at the frontier of our time: refugees and displaced persons, integration of service with faith and the promotion of justice[26], and he recalled, making it his own, the words of Paul VI at the 32nd GC, that he himself heard with his own ears: «Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme situations, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, where there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, Jesuits have been present and are present»[27].  Francis added: «These are prophetic words of the future Blessed Paul VI».  Even Pope Benedict, in his song, took these demanding and encouraging words of Pope Montini.

Three Popes, therefore, have sent the Society the same message.  Words of trust and esteem, but also very demanding, because they recall the ecclesial meaning of our vocation.

The Jesuit, man of dialogue

In the audience granted to La Civiltà Cattolica, Pope Francis retraces its defensive history and fidelity to the Church and reminds the writers that their «duty is not to build walls but bridges; it is to establish a dialogue with all people, even those who do not share the Christian faith […] and even, “those who oppose the Church and persecute her in various ways” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 92)».  And to dialogue, one needs to lower one’s guard and to open doors.  The Pope encourages the writer to continue the dialogue with cultural, social, political institutions, to offer a contribution for the common good.

In the Pope’s words the figure of his model of the Jesuit returns to make itself present.  We may wonder at the fact that when the Pope reads these words of Faber: «Whoever wants to draw close to the heretics of this age must have a lot of love with them and love them in veritate» communicating «familiarity with them»[28], he is left struck by them and comments: «His dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents…»[29].

cropped-santis.jpgThe Jesuit, man of discernment

What we have reported up to her recalls that the Jesuit is a man who has the gift of discernment «who seeks to recognize in the human and cultural situation the presence of God’s Spirit, the seed of his presence already sown in events, in sensibilities, in desires and in the heart’s profound aspirations and in social, cultural and spiritual contexts».  Pope Francis defines spiritual discernment «a treasure of the Jesuits».  And he states he was left struck by the observation of Hugo Rahner, for whom the Jesuit «is a specialist in discernment in the field of God and also in that of the Devil»[30].  We don’t need to be afraid to continue in discernment to find the truth.

When Fr. Spadaro asks him what aspect of Ignatian spirituality helps him the most to live his ministry, Francis answered: «Discernment.  Discernment is one of the things that worked inside of St Ignatius.  For him it is an instrument of struggle in order to know the Lord and follow him more closely»[31].  And he added: «This discernment takes time.  […]  I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change.  And this is the time of discernment.  Sometimes discernment instead urges us to do precisely what you had at first thought to do later.  […]  The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong»[32].

In the celebration of the bicentennial of the restoration, Pope Francis made very precise observations on discernment: «in a time of confusion and turmoil […], in the confusion and humiliation, the Society preferred to live the discernment of God’s will, without seeking a way out of the conflict in a seemingly quiet manner. Or at least in an elegant way: this they did not do».

In other discourses, the Pope expounds on, almost incidentally, the conditions in order that a true spiritual discernment is given.  For example, he refers to right intention, a simple gaze, to the fact that «discernment is always done in the presence of the Lord, looking at the signs, listening to the things that happen, the felling of the people, especially the poor»[33].

Regarding the suppression of the Society, Pope Francis refers to what Fr. Lorenzo Ricci said about the sins of the Jesuits.  In fact, discernment does not seek the easy «compromise», it saves us from real uprooting, from the real “suppression” of the heart, which is selfishness, worldliness, the loss of our horizon, of our hope, which is only Jesus, when we seek what God asks.

In narrative form

We can in conclusion, add a note on «how» the Pope addressed the Jesuits in the «previous discourse».  In the interview released by Fr. Spadaro, he states that “the Society can only be described in narrative form.  Only in the narrative from do you discern»[34].  In effect the Pope has «narrated» us, with clarity and insistence, the Society’s identity, centered on Christ and on the Church: «To serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross and to serve the Lord alone and the Church his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff»[35].

The Pope has «narrated» us, so that we, making «memory», place ourselves in an attitude of discernment and, grateful for so much good received, examine if we are in that «center» and, once «decentered» from ourselves, desire to live under the banner of Jesus: only thus will we be able to know how and in what the Lord and his Church want to be served by this «least» Society.

The Pope’s narrative language does not lead him to get lost in secondary questions.  He brings us back, as in a serene conversation with his brother Jesuits, to the origins, where «the first ones came», to where, through them, the gift of the Spirit overflows to the Church; and in a very Ignatian way questions himself, he a Jesuit, and questions us Jesuits, on our life and on our mission in reference to that core identity.

Following the example of Faber, Pope Francis talked to us with sweetness, with brotherhood, with love, in truth, like a «big brother»; and, like Faber, he also invites us to have the desire to «allow Christ to occupy the center of our heart»[36], because «it is only possible to go to the limits of the world if we are centered in God»[37]


(translation by Reyanna Rice)


[1] Cfr Fontes Narrativae Societatis Iesu (FN), I, 104

[2] 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Decree 1.

[3] P. Fabro, Spiritual memories, Rome – Milan, Civiltà Cattolica – Corriere della Sera, 2014, 18; Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSI), 63, 162.

[4] Pope Francis, Vespers and «Te Deum» on the bicentenary of the restoration of the Society, September 27, 2014.

[5] Cfr Id., Homily on the feast of St Ignatius, July 31, 2013.

[6] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», in Civ. Catt. 2013 III 454 s

[7] «Formule dell’Istituto 1539, 1540, 1550», in Ignatian Sources, MCo I, 373- 383.

[8] Pope Francis, Vespers and «Te Deum» on the bicentennial of the restoration of the Society, cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Pope Francis, Homily on the feast of St Ignatius, July 31, 2013.

[11] Pope Francis, Letter to the Provost general of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, March 16, 2013: cfr www.vatican.va

[12] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», cit. 459.

[13] Pope Francis, Homily on the feast of St Ignatius, July 31, 2013

[14] «Audience of Pope Francis to “La Civiltà Cattolica”», June 14, 2013, in Civ. Catt. 2013 III5.

[15] Pius VII, Sollicitudo ommium ecclesiarum.

[16] Benedict XVI, Discourse to the fathers of the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, February 21, 2008: cfr www.vatican.va

[17] Pope Francis, Homily on the feast of St Ignatius, cit.

[18] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», cit.,456.

[19] «Audience of Pope Francis to “La Civiltà Cattolica”»,cit., 5.

[20] Pope Francis, Homiliy in the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, January 3, 2014.

[21] We find a very meaningful example in Const. 101 (Examen).

[22] Pope Francis, Homily in the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, cit.

[23] Ibid.

[24] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», cit.,474.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Besides the discourse cited in the text, Pope Francis has proclaimed discourses for groups of Jesuits and laity who work in various apostolic fields: the Latin American Congress of former students (November 2015); Former students from Uruguay (October 2013); Gregorian University (April 2014); Vatican Observatory (June 2014, September 2015); Astalli Center (September 2013); Jesuit Refugee Service (November 2015); Youth Eucharistic Movement (August 2015).

[27] Paul VI, Discourse to the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, n. 2.

[28] Monumenta Fabri, 399-402.

[29] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», cit.,457.

[30] «Audience of Pope Francis to “La Civiltà Cattolica”»,cit., 4 s.

[31] A. Spadaro, «Interview with Pope Francis», cit.,453.

[32] Ibid, 454.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid, 455.

[35] Julius III, Bull Exposcit debitum, July 15, 1550

[36] P. Faber, Memorie spirituali, n. 68.

[37] Pope Francis, Homily in the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, cit.

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

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


La mirada de BERGOGLIO es la de MAGELLANES

Per continuare la tradizione di una rivista come “La Civiltà Cattolica”…

The gaze of Magellan: Pope Francis’ European dream


(Brief excerpt from: A. Spadaro, «Lo sguardo di Magellano. L’Europa, Papa Francesco e il Premio Carlo Magno», in La Civiltà Cattolica 2016 II 469-479 translated by Reyanna Rice)

— What is the vision that the non European Pope has of Europe?

Pope Francis received the prestigious Charlemagne Prize May 6, 2016 . Here is the reason for the prize: «in tribute to His extraordinary commitment to favor peace, understanding, and mercy in a European Society of values».

What is the vision that the non European Pope has of Europe?  The Bergolio’s gaze is a European gaze, because his roots are in the Piedmont and his formation is radically European as well.  He himself, in his discourse, recognizes himself as a son «who rediscovers in Mother Europe his roots of life and faith».  And he is however Argentine and his ecclesial experience is Latin American.

The itinerary of his trips on the European continent began from Lampedusa–«Europe’s gate», and therefore goal of a trip more European than Italian—and from Albania, a land of Europe that is not yet part of the European Union and of an Islamic majority.  From these «peripheries» the Pope is as if rebounded briefly to the «center», that is at Strasburg, to visit the European institutions, and then continues ever to the borders: Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lesbos, other tragic «European gates».  In October he will be at Lund, in Sweden.  Mercy for Francis is delineated politically in freedom of movement.[1]  He approaches Europe from her distant «periphery».

To understand this statement beyond every easy slogan, we read what Francis declared in an interview released by La Cárcova News, a popular magazine produced in an Argentine villa miseria: «When I speak of periphery, I speak of borders.  Normally we move in space that in one way or another we control.  This is the center.  In the measure in which we go out from the center and distance ourselves from it, we discover more things and, when we look at the center of these new things that we have discovered, new places, from these peripheries, we see that reality is different.  One thing is to observe reality from the center and another to see it from the last place where you arrived.  An example: Europe seen from Madrid in the 16th century was one thing, however when Magellan arrives at the end of the American continent, he sees Europe from a new point reached and understands another thing».[2]

resizeBergolio’s gaze is, therefore, that of Magellan, and he wants to continue to be him.  Francis wants to know Europe starting from Rome and circumnavigating the continent starting from the south and proceeding to the east and then—he will do it in October—pushing into the deep north, in Sweden.  There was not, at the moment, any short trip to the west, towards the West.

In the interview quoted he continues: «You see reality better from the periphery than from the center».  Here’s the reason for his external journey, for his circumnavigation to the borders.  This is what Francis seeks between Lampedusa, Tirana, Lesbos and Lund: the European «soul».  And the soul is not only the «center», but the pulsing and living «heart».  Francis is like a doctor who seeks to understand if the heart functions, observing if and how the blood flows everywhere, and also investigating the peripheral circulation.

Another term to express this vision is «multipolarity».  Francis said it clearly in his discourse to the Council of Europe November 25th, 2014: Europe cannot be understood in terms of a few polar «centers», because « tensions – whether constructive or divisive – are situated between multiple cultural, religious and political poles».  Multipolarity involves «striving to create a constructive harmony, one free of those pretensions to power».  Then we must think of Europe in a multifaceted manner in its relationships and tensions.  That of Francis is a non deterministic European geopolitics, aware of the fact that the redistribution of power among the principal actors does not account for the profound dynamics of the Continent.

— Europe: not a space to defend, but a process to implement

«Creativity, ingenuity and the capacity to rise above and to go beyond her own limits belong to the European soul», Francis began.  And here in his discourse immediately surfaces the reference to eccentricity, to the overcoming of limits and boundaries.  Europe is herself because she knows to go beyond herself.  Her «house» is built going beyond the ashes of «tragic conflicts, culminating in the most horrific war ever known»

This vision therefore is profoundly bound to becoming, to dialectical overcoming of walls and obstacles.  Europe is not a «thing», but a «process» still in action with «a more complex and highly mobile world».[3]  Her Fathers have «laid the foundations» an «enlightened project» that is always a work in progress.  We must therefore verify not if the house holds, but if its realization follows that wise project.  Here is the opinion of the Pope: «Their new and exciting desire to create unity seems to be fading; we, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there»

Why has this happened?  Because — the Pope affirmed, consistent with his approach to reality — Europe is «more concerned with preserving and dominating spaces than with generating processes of inclusion and change.  There is an impression that Europe is tending to become increasingly “entrenched”, rather than open to initiating new social processes capable of engaging all individuals and groups in the search for new and productive solutions to current problems. Europe, rather than protecting spaces, is called to be a mother who generates processes».

If Europe considers herself as a «space», then sooner or later will be—and it has already come—the moment of fear, of the fear that the space is invaded.  Space is first of all defended.  If instead Europe is to consider herself as an ongoing process, then she understands how it puts energies into movement, accepting the challenges of history.  Then even difficulties and contradictions «can become powerful forces of unity».



[1] Cfr A. Spadaro, «La diplomazia di Francesco. La misericordia come processo politico», in Civ. Catt. 2016 I 209-226.
[2] That text of the audio interview is found transcribed and translated at the site http://www.terredamerica.com (10 marzo 2015).  The emphasis is ours.
[3] Pope Francis, Discorso to the European Parliament, Strasburgo, 25 novembre 2014.


Il Vangelo del conflitto. Riflessioni di Alberto Asor Rosa sull’articolo di J. M. Bergoglio su La Civiltà Cattolica

CivCatt 3970fileunico (trascinato)
di Alberto Asor Rosa
pubblicato in la Repubblica
col titolo «Il Vangelo del conflitto»,
20 Gennaio 2016

Nelle settimane passate è apparso in Italia un testo di Papa Bergoglio, che a me sembra di grande importanza. Si tratta dell’intervento da lui pronunciato a un Congresso internazionale di teologia (da lui stesso voluto e preparato), svoltosi a San Miguel in Argentina dal 2 al 6 settembre 1985, sul tema “Evangelizzazione della cultura e inculturazione del Vangelo”.

L’intervento, nella forma pubblicata da Civiltà cattolica, porta il titolo “Fede in Cristo e Umanesimo”. Ritengo però che il suo vero tema sia più esemplarmente testimoniato da quello del convegno.

Andrò per accenni, limitandomi a segnalare quello che, dal mio punto di vista, spicca per novità e intelligenza del discorso. In effetti, trovo, per cominciare dagli inizi, che ipotizzare questa doppia missione – che è anche un doppio movimento di andata e ritorno per ognuno dei due elementi che lo compongono, e cioè: “evangelizzazione della cultura” e “inculturazione del Vangelo”– significa offrire una visione nuova dei rapporti tra la “fede cristiana” e “il mondo”.

Papa-Francesco-al-Serafico-di-AssisiBergoglio, infatti, non dice: “questa” o “quella cultura”. Dice: “cultura”. A chiarimento della tesi scrive: «Stiamo rivendicando all’incontro tra fede e cultura, nel suo duplice aspetto di evangelizzazione della cultura e di inculturazione del Vangelo, “un momento sapienziale”, essenzialmente mediatore, che è garanzia sia dell’origine (movimento di creazione) sia della sua pienezza e fine (movimento di rivelazione)». «Un momento sapienziale, essenzialmente mediatore…»: se la traduzione dallo spagnolo in italiano non ha deformato qualche senso, questo vuol dire che tra “fede” e “cultura” si può stabilire un confronto, i cui momenti di reciprocità sono destinati a influenzare sia l’una sia l’altra parte, producendo, attraverso la “mediazione”, un accrescimento di sapere e di conoscenza per tutti.

Bergoglio chiama in causa una parola-concetto tipicamente laica o quanto meno mondana: “mediatore”, mediazione. Tale impressione però si accentua, in misura significativa, nella lettura di un brano seguente, che qui riporto per intero, perché lo trovo denso di parole-concetti sorprendenti: «La base di questo sforzo è sapere che nel compito di evangelizzare le culture e di inculturare il Vangelo è necessaria una santità che non teme il conflitto ed è capace di costanza e pazienza. Innanzi tutto, la santità implica che non si abbia paura del conflitto: implica parresia, come dice San Paolo. Affrontare il conflitto non per restarvi impigliati, ma per superarlo senza eluderlo. E questo coraggio ha un enorme nemico: la paura. Paura che, nei confronti degli estremismi di un segno o di un altro, può condurci al peggiore estremismo che si possa toccare: l’“estremismo di centro”».

In questo caso, la parola-concetto centrale è: “conflitto”. Si deve ammettere che siamo di fronte a una acquisizione inedita nel campo della cultura cristiano-cattolica. Il termine infatti ricorre nel pensiero e nelle problematiche del pensiero dialettico e sociologico europeo e americano degli ultimi due secoli: da Hegel a Marx, e poi Simmel, von Wiese, Dahrendorf… Nessun equivalente, almeno della stessa portata, nel pensiero cristiano-cattolico dello stesso periodo, e si capisce perché: la predicazione evangelica sembrerebbe escludere una virata di tale natura.

Ma la sorpresa è destinata persino ad aumentare se si procede nell’analisi del ragionamento. «Affrontare il conflitto », scrive Bergoglio, «per superarlo », ma «senza eluderlo»; si misura con «un enorme nemico: la paura». Paura di che? Paura dei possibili estremismi, che dal conflitto possono scaturire. Ma tale paura, se incontrollata, è destinata a condurre «al peggiore estremismo che si possa toccare: l’“estremismo di centro”, che vanifica qualsiasi messaggio». L’“estremismo di centro”! In un paese come l’Italia, spesso arrivato a catastrofiche conclusioni proprio a causa di un sistematico e prevaricante “estremismo di centro”, tale messaggio dovrebbe risultare più comprensibile che altrove. Anche il riferimento alla parresia s’inserisce in questo contesto: solo chi parla alto e libero può vincere la paura.

Quali considerazioni si possono fare su posizioni, di questa natura? Su Bergoglio sono stati scritti molti articoli (bellissimi quelli di Eugenio Scalfari). Pochi, però, si sono soffermati sulla scaturigine storica delle sue prese di posizione, che è inequivocabilmente gesuitica. I gesuiti, nel corso della loro lunga storia, ne hanno combinate di tutti i colori, nella difesa perinde ac cadaver della Chiesa di Roma. E però… Molti anni or sono ho studiato a lungo la cultura gesuitica del Seicento in Italia. Mi risultò chiaro allora che carattere perspicuo della cultura gesuitica, nei momenti migliori, è sempre stato il tentativo «di operare la saldatura fra cultura laica e cultura ecclesiastica, fra tradizione e rinnovamento… »; e questo su base mondiale.

Se le cose stanno così, la domanda (provvisoriamente) finale di questa ricostruzione è: quale rapporto esiste fra la centralità della parola-concetto “conflitto” e la centralità della parola-concetto “misericordia”, alla quale Papa Francesco ha voluto dedicare il Giubileo?

La risposta più semplice è: nessuno. “Misericordia” è parola evangelica, pochissimo usata in ambito laico, come pochissimo “conflitto” in ambito ecclesiale. Sono passati trent’anni dalla prima formulazione, padre Jorge Mario Bergoglio, divenuto Papa Francesco, ha ripensato radicalmente le sue posizioni, rientrando nell’ambito più tradizionale della cultura ecclesiastica.

Come tutte le soluzioni troppo semplici, anche questa però si presta a un’obiezione di fondo. Una noticina al testo pubblicato da Civiltà cattolicainforma infatti che il testo è stato ripresentato «in forma rivista dal Santo Padre ». Questo ci rende lecito pensare che nel pensiero di Papa Francesco “conflitto” e “misericordia” possano stare insieme. Cioè: il prodotto di una cultura laica può stare insieme con il prodotto tipico di una cultura evangelico- cristiana.

Non può esserci “misericordia” se non c’è stato “conflitto”; il “conflitto” è buono, anzi, addirittura indispensabile, se è necessario per superare la paura, e superare la paura è necessario per arrivare alla “misericordia”. Sarebbe troppo pretendere che Bergoglio, divenuto Pontefice, dopo averci additato come il conflitto sia necessario per attivare la misericordia, ci additi come la misericordia sia necessaria per attivare il conflitto, motivo quest’ultimo inesauribile – e positivo, quando c’è – delle azioni umane. Però la connessione possibile – il prima e il dopo, insomma, che però è anche o può essere anche, un dopo e un prima – almeno a noi laici e non credenti, risulta – credo – ben chiara.

Il viaggio di Papa Francesco in America Latina e l’ecumenismo. Il messaggio del Metropolita Tarasios

IlFullSizeRender viaggio di Papa Francesco in America Latina ha avuto anche un significato ecumenico, grazie alla presenza lunga tutta la sua durata, di Sua Eminenza Monsignor Tarasios, Arcivescovo metropolitano di Buenos Aires ed Esarca dell’America del Sud. Mons. Tarasios conosce Papa Francesco da molti anni e con lui era solito incontrarsi e discutere di temi e problemi pastorali.

Alla fine della celebrazione eucaristica a Campo Grande de Ňu Gauzú in Paraguay mons. Tarasios ha rivolto a Papa Francesco le parole che qui riproduciamo.

Notiamo come mons. Tarasios offre il suo benvenuto anche a nome del Patriarca Bartolomeo, rappresentando la Chiesa Ortodossa. Si esprimono cordialmente sentimenti di gratitudine e si manifesta la gioia di testimoniare insieme che il vero amore e la vera fraternità tra le Chiese non si limitano a una mera scolastica o a un corretto rapporto diplomatico, ma una esperienza di vita fondata sul Vangelo. Il Metropolita definisce il Papa “Santità e Fratello Maggiore”. La sua visita è colta come occasione di incontro, di allegria e di impegno. Si esprime infine la consapevolezza che l’elezione dell’arcivescovo di Buenos Aires al Pontificato potrà contribuire a far considerare l’America Latina come un grande tesoro per l’umanità.

Ecco di seguito il testo dell’indirizzo di saluto.
Antonio Spadaro SJ

OSSROM60665_LancioGrandeSu Santidad
El Papa Francisco
Que la Gracia y la  Sacra Ternura de Nuestro Señor sean con Ud.

Tengo el honor en mi cargo de Arzobispo Metropolitano de Buenos Aires y Exarca de Sudamérica de dar a Su Santidad la bienvenida por parte de Su Santidad el Patriarca Ecuménico y querido hermano en Cristo Bartolomé.

Desde el fondo de mi corazón y de mi alma deseo expresarle mi más profunda gratitud por el privilegio de haberme recibido durante los días de Su visita pastoral en Ecuador, Bolivia y Paraguay. Creo que esta visita es histórica y es por ello que le expresé mi deseo de poder estar presente durante la misma, representando a la Iglesia Ortodoxa, al Patriarcado Ecuménico de Constantinopla y a nuestra jurisdicción sudamericana.

Su pronta respuesta a mi misiva me llenó de alegría. Hoy esa alegría se ha completado mientras hemos estado juntos una vez más dando testimonio de que el verdadero amor y la fraternidad entre las iglesias no se limitan a una mera escolástica interreligiosa o a un correcto protocolo diplomático o a un ameno discurrir ecuménico, sino que es una vivencia real, pura y salvífica basada en el mandamiento del Señor.

Santidad y Hermano Mayor,

me tomo el atrevimiento de llamarlo así, tal como lo hacía en Buenos Aires con respeto y amor. Hemos compartido muchos años en Buenos Aires, en donde aprendí de Ud. a ser un buen obispo y pastor, y ahora la Divina Providencia nos junta una vez más en estas tierras sudamericanas, cuya realidad ha sido motivo de diálogo, preocupación y desvelo para ambos. Hoy, sin embargo, es motivo de encuentro, de alegría, de compromiso, el compromiso de seguir velando, cada uno desde su posición en la Iglesia, que es Una, Santa, Católica y Apostólica, por el crecimiento en el Espíritu de los habitantes de estas bienamadas tierras que, a pesar de todo, han sido bendecidas por Dios con un fervor y una fe tan amplias como sus dimensiones geográficas.

Gracias Santo Padre por haber estado entre nosotros, en este viaje; gracias por Su estadía como obispo de Buenos Aires; gracias por dar al mundo ese acento sudamericano, por dar testimonio de que el por algunos llamado “tercer mundo” también tiene para ofrecer un gran tesoro para la humanidad.

En Ecuador, Bolivia y Paraguay, 6-12 de Julio de 2015 — y ojalá pronto en Argentina — durante la visita apostólica de Su Santidad, permanezco con cariño filial y fraternal,

Su ferviente suplicante ante Dios,

† Tarasios

Un presidente dalla fede non muscolare. Per lui la politica deve essere costruzione

Riporto di seguito il testo dell’intervista che ho rilasciato al Corriere della Sera di lunedì 2 febbraio 2015. Il video è quello al quale faccio riferimento nell’intervista.

Sergio Mattarella, nuovo Presidente della Repubblica. Il direttore di Civiltà cattolica Spadaro: la visione sua e di Bergoglio sono consonanti
di Maria Antonietta Calabrò

Padre Antonio Spadaro, direttore della rivista dei Gesuiti, la Civiltà Cattolica, ha postato su Twitter una videointervista su YouTube in cui Mattarella descrive l’entusiasmo con cui ha vissuto gli anni del Concilio Vaticano II.

«Perché mi ha molto colpito. Il video mostra che è stato eletto presidente una personalità ricca, un giurista, un politico di elevata statura, la cui formazione cattolica ha dato frutti. È un cattolico non muscolare, non ideologico, cresciuto in un periodo complesso, che considera la sua fede come un enzima».

Un enzima?
«Nella videointervista, che è del 2010, parla di sogni e di ideali, non di tattiche e di strategie. Per lui la fede è lievito dentro la storia. Non è un’ideologia astratta che si impone sulla realtà. Si richiama a due Papi: Giovanni XXIII e Paolo VI. Entusiasmo, speranza e innovazione per lui sono le tre parole chiave dell’eredità di quegli anni. Nel Concilio lo colpiva il senso pieno dell’universalità della Chiesa e la dimensione profetica della fede».

Un presidente d’altri tempi?
«No. E per lo stesso Mattarella non sempre il passato è migliore del presente. E il cristiano vive nel presente. Niente amarcord».

Mattarella si è formato a stretto contatto con i gesuiti, questo c’entra con il suo cattolicesimo non ideologico?
«Sì. C’è una parola che esprime questa caratteristica tipica dell’educazione dei gesuiti e che mi sembra abbia giocato un ruolo decisivo per Mattarella, così come emerge dalla sua stessa intervista, la parola “discernimento”. Essa esprime una visione positiva della realtà, un’apertura dialogica e la capacità di ascolto dell’altro. Oltre agli stretti contatti da adulto con padre Bartolomeo Sorge e padre Ennio Pintacuda. La sua formazione ha comunque avuto punti di riferimento plurale: i Fratelli maristi, l’Azione cattolica, i Padri rosminiani, la Pro civitate cristiana».

Il primo pensiero del presidente è andato «alle difficoltà e alle speranze dei nostri concittadini».
«Nel video dice testualmente: “Studiare insieme, vivere insieme un’esperienza di classe, di comunità e di studio mi ha aiutato a comprendere le esigenze, i problemi e le attese degli altri. Si cresce, se si cresce insieme. Ci si realizza, se ci si realizza insieme”. Sembra di sentire papa Francesco che si esprime negli stessi termini».

Mattarella è stato segnato dalla tragedia del fratello. Oggi mafia e corruzione sono ancora emergenza.
«Mattarella è sceso in politica a causa di questa ferita viva nella carne: e dal fratello , che è stato politico di rottura , ha imparato la necessità della lotta alla corruzione. Questo è un tratto forte dell’identità del presidente, oggi particolarmente rilevante».

È singolare che un cattolico sia una riserva della Repubblica?
«No, anzi. È proprio il suo cattolicesimo a dargli una concezione “laica” della politica, intesa come costruzione — da parte di persone di diverse esperienze e culture — della cosa pubblica e del bene comune. E questo è anche il pensiero di papa Francesco. Le due visioni del neoeletto e di papa Francesco mi sembrano straordinariamente consonanti».