Yesterday the General Congregation elected the Venezuelan p. Arturo Sosa Abascal to guide the Society of Jesus. As the Pope, he is a native of South America. Combine theological reflection with social issues. The vast experience of government “useful” in a context which is increasingly "globalized."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal has been voted yesterday the next superior general of the Society of Jesus. The Venezuelan becomes the 30th successor of Jesuit founder St Ignatius of Loyola and leader of the Catholic Church’s largest religious order. He is the Jesuits’ first non-European leader and also the first superior general to be elected under a Jesuit pope.
Fr Sosa was born in Caracas on November 12, 1948. He is the Delegate of the General for the International Houses and Works of the Society of Jesus in Rome.
AsiaNews presents a brief reflection on the figure traced by p. Keith D'Souza, Indian Jesuit and professor of philosophy and religious studies at the College of St. Pius X, in Mumbai.
A few random points on the new Jesuit General:
Like the Holy Father, he is from South America, from the periphery and not from the centre (recent Generals were born in Europe, though they were missioned to other parts of the world, especially Asia).
He is well experienced in the area of the social ministry, both theoretically and practically. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science, and was in charge of the social apostolate of his Province. He was also the Director of ‘Centro Gumilla’, a social and action research centre in his Province. His concern for the social apostolate is important for us in India and Asia, as a sizeable number of Jesuits work in this field directly, and many others in the field of education also attempt to relate research and teaching with social concerns. Our spiritual and pastoral ministries too have a strong social emphasis.
It is hoped that he will emphasize this social perspective in the formation of Jesuits, as well as in our various ministries. For us in the Southern hemisphere, our philosophical, theological and pastoral reflection needs to be more pragmatically related with the social issues and problems that people face, in our context of multiculturalism, diversity of faiths, impoverishment, and different forms of discrimination and marginalization.
He has had good experience in governance, being the Provincial of the Jesuits in Venezuela and the Delegate of the General for the “Interprovincial Houses” of the Society of Jesus in Rome, which include the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Vatican Observatory, Civiltà Cattolica, as well as the international Jesuit colleges in Rome. He was also the Rector of the Catholic University of Tachira, in Venezuela. This broad experience of his in governance will come in useful in the context of our globalized world, in which we need to emphasize both local concerns and involvement on the one hand, and universal exposure and engagement on the other.
* Fr. Keith D’Souza, SJ, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at St. Pius X College,(Bombay Archdiocesan Seminary) and renowned preacher of retreats