The state of the Society
Representatives from each Jesuit Province converged on Nairobi, Kenya, for the Congregation of Procurators that was held from July 9 to 15, 2012.
The Congregation of Procurators is called into session by Father General every four years after the end of a General Congregation. The 84 Procurators present were elected by their Provinces and 13 others participated ex officio. There were 7 Procurators from Africa, 14 from Latin America, 18 from South Asia, 7 from Asia Pacific, 29 from South, Central- Eastern and Western Europe, 9 from the United States.
The most important purpose of the Congregation of Procurators is to decide whether a General Congregation should be called. Another important task of the Procurators is to discuss the overall state of the Society especially in its more universal dimension. The discussion could clarify if a General Congregation is warranted.
In the last days of Congregation, the first to be held outside of Europe, the Procurators voted and decided almost unanimously by secret ballot that it was not necessary to convoke a General Congregation.
In Father General’s talk on De statu Societatis, summing up the state of the Society of Jesus in the world in terms of fidelity to our Institute, he examined, point by point, how the mandates of GC 35 have been implemented, particularly with regard to 1) the Society’s call to greater universality; 2) governance, especially by naming a Commission charged with a process of reflection about provinces and province structures; 3) the central governance of the Society, especially the reorganization of the secretariats; and 4) mission, in answer to the Pope’s invitation to go to the “frontiers”.
Fr Nicolás then dealt with some areas he considered important.
- Our life in the Spirit – “The key for determining the spiritual health of the Society depends on whether Jesuits continue to have the ability to give absolutely everything to the Lord, as Ignatius did and so many after him and so many after him till the present day.” Four areas demand more attention – the difficulty of finding spiritual directors; the danger of secularized values that have entered our mentalities; the need to be transformed by the integrating power of our spirituality; and the disordered attachment both to work and to works.
- Our apostolic dynamism – Education highlighted in the light of three dimensions of our apostolic work today, namely service to the poor, collaboration with others, and networking between Provinces, within Conferences, and between Conferences. Addressing the challenges in these areas, will mean redefining discernment, formation for leadership, and enabling and deepening collaboration among Jesuits and among Jesuits and lay partners.
- Our life together in community – “The overall picture of the state of community life is positive”, but some shadows exist such as an attitude of individualism that manifests itself in a lack of financial transparency and dependence; in excessive attention to new forms of communication, electronic gadgets and social networking sites; and in tensions caused by generational, ethnic, tribal or racial differences.
- Vocation promotion and formation – Fr General spoke of areas where we can do better.
- Our relationship with the Church – Thinking with the Church, namely our relationship with the Church, is “a dimension of our life that is essential to Ignatius’ vision of the Society”. “We are challenged to deepen our pastoral responsibility in the differing and ecclesial contexts where we are ministering.”
- Creativity in the Society – Mentioned within the context of the celebration in 2014 of the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society. He made reference to the March 12, 2011 letter in which he convoked the Congregation of Procurators and invited “Jesuits today to engage in a deeper reflection on the signs of new life and apostolic creativity in both traditional and new ministries in the Society” and analysed the not always encouraging answers received on this matter.
The Congregation spent a day reflecting on the mission of Jesuits today, using as the starting point Fr General’s letter of February 25, 2011 in which he pointed out “three dimensions of our mission that should be present in all apostolic sectors: the service of faith, the promotion of justice and collaboration with others”. (Press Release n. 06)
A day was also dedicated to the Assistancy of Africa and Madagascar. (Press Release n. 07) Africa is a preferential option of the Society. Yet another day was spent on communities and community life, which emerged out of the GC 35 as an essential dimension of Jesuit life. (Press Release n. 08)
In his final allocution on the last day of the week-long Congregation, Fr General offered “simple reflections” regarding the future and the challenges that await the Society. He stressed the importance of creativity in responding to these challenges. This creativity has its foundation in Ignatian Spirituality, especially in the spirit of Magis, and in the other key meditations of the Spiritual Exercises like the meditation of the Kingdom. He alluded to the assurance that God, like a font of inspiration, is with us to help us fulfil all that we desire to accomplish.
For more on the Congregation of Procurators in Kenya, visit www.sjwebcp70.com