JESUITS: FULL FIDELITY TO THE SOCIETY'S ORIGINAL CHARISM
VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants of the Society of Jesus’ general congregation, with the newly named superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, which has been meeting in Rome from 7 January.
The Pope encouraged those present and all their brothers in the Society to continue in their faithfulness to the mission received from God, “in full fidelity to the original charism in the ecclesial and social context that characterizes this beginning of the millennium”.
“The Church”, he said, “urgently needs persons of solid and deep faith, of serious culture, and of genuine human and social sensitivity; of priests and religious who dedicate their lives to living at the margins in order to bear witness and help further the understanding that there exists a profound harmony between faith and reason, between evangelical spirit and a thirst for justice and dedication to peace”.
“The Society of Jesus, Benedict XVI continued, “faithful to its best tradition, should continue forming its members with great attention to the sciences and to virtue, without conforming to mediocrity, because the task of confrontation and dialogue in very diverse social and cultural situations with the different mentalities of today’s world is one of the most difficult and costly there is”.
“In the attempt to build bridges of understanding and dialogue with those who do not belong to the Church or who have difficulty in accepting its positions and messages, you must loyally take charge of the Church’s fundamental right to remain faithful to its mandate and adhere completely to the Word of God as well as to the Magisterium’s charge of conserving the truth and unity of Catholic doctrine in its entirety”.
The Pope emphasized that “this holds not only for the vow of each Jesuit. As you work as members of an apostolic body you have to also remain attentive that your works and institutions always maintain a clear and explicit identity so that the goal of your apostolic activity is neither ambiguous nor obscure and so that many others might share your ideals and might effectively and enthusiastically join with you, collaborating in your vow of service to God and as human beings”.
“The themes that are debated and questioned today, such as the salvation of all in Christ, sexual morality, and marriage and the family, should be considered in the context of contemporary reality, maintaining, however, that harmony with the Magisterium that avoids the provocation of confusion and uncertainty in the People of God”.
The Holy Father encouraged the Jesuit fathers to “continue and to renew” their mission among and with the poor. “For us”, he said, “the option for the poor is not ideological but rather is born of the Gospel”. Besides making the “effort to understand and fight the structural causes” of injustice and poverty, he added, “it is necessary to fight the deep roots of evil in the very heart of the human being, the sin that separates us from God, without forgetting to care for the most urgent needs of others in Christ’s spirit of charity”.
Finally, referring to the Spiritual Exercises, “which from its origins have characterized your Society”, the Pope asked that they “continue making them a precious and effective instrument for the spiritual growth of souls. (...) The Spiritual Exercises represent a particularly precious journey and method for seeking and encountering the face of God in and around us and in all things; for coming to know his will and putting it into practice”.