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Rome Reports

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Jesuits study how to respond to social problems of 21 century

In 1969, Fr. Arrupe, who was then the superior general of the Jesuits, launched an internal organization to coordinate and help the Society of Jesus' social projects: the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat. More than 210 Jesuits, activists and experts have gathered in Rome to celebrate its 50 anniversary.

Its objective is to exchange experiences and raise awareness as its role as a religious congregation dedicated to service of the most disadvantaged.

Superior General of the Society of Jesus
“I think that the world's social situation is not better, but actually worse than it was 50 years ago. This week, we want to remember what we have learned in the past 50 years. We want to give thanks to all the lives that have been dedicated with enthusiasm, including the lives that have been martyred for this.”

The participants in this congress coordinate social activities of Jesuits all over the world. They cover various problems, from discrimination to caste problems in India or the abandonment women suffer in poor or fighting countries.

Conference of Jesuit Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean
“Let me give you a fact: last year in Latin America 60,000 women died simply because they're women. Most of these cases are uninvestigated.”

Jesuit Conference of South Asia
“Basically, the Hindu religion has stratified the people by different castes. What happens is that it's been very deeply ingrained in all the minds of all the people.”

The congress highlighted the Jesuits and lay collaborators that have been killed for working to help the disadvantaged.

Fr. Arturo Sosa said between all of them, there is a cause for a canonization that could be concluded within a short amount of time.

Superior General of the Society of Jesus
“Fr. Rutilio Grande's cause is already in the last phase of the canonical process. We were hoping that for the 30 anniversary of El Salvador martyrs, Fr. Rutilio would already be canonized, but he will be soon.”

The meeting has the theme, “A journey of justice and reconciliation: 50 years and beyond.”

It's an opportunity to analyze achievements and failures of the past, as well as the present situation and dream of future projects.

One of the ideas being promoted is to encourage collaboration with other institutions, Catholic or not, to create a more powerful network to benefit the disadvantaged.

The participants in the meeting will meet with Pope Francis on Thursday and close the congress on Friday.

Javier Romero
Translated: Rachel Dobrzynski