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From the Periphery I Called Out My Son, Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ

gc36jFrom the Periphery I Called Out My Son, Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ: What It Means to Have a General from Venezuela Oh, what a joy! We finally have a new Father General, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ. After several days of prayer, meditation, reflection, listening, consultation, and "murmurationes", the Holy Spirit has inspired us to choose a new General who, like our beloved Holy Father, comes from the periphery, far from Europe, the United States and Canada.

He comes from Venezuela, a third-world country which, like many African countries, has a history marked by dictatorship, political violence, socio-political instability; a country whose experience of painful and pathetic memories makes sensitive to the cry of the poor; a country in which the poor cry out for justice; a country in which the Church is constantly faced with the choice between complacency and justice, between hypocrisy and prophecy, between resignation and compassion, between a complicit silence and a lucid and subversive word.

The fact that the Society of Jesus decided to elect a General who comes from a poor or a third-world country is a strong message! By this, the Jesuits confirm to the world that they share the concern of Pope Francis who speaks for the poor, and that the Church of the poor and for the poor promoted by His Holiness, Pope Francis, is part of the Jesuit vision. This means that the Society of Jesus embodies the Pope's mission to hear the cry of "the crucified people" (Ignacio Ellacuria & Jon Sobrino) in the name of "the Crucified God" (Jürgen Moltmann); and that the Society of Jesus has followed the movement of the Holy Spirit who had chosen a Pope from the periphery.... The periphery reminds us that, far from the centre, there are "sheep" to graze and to heal. The Church is not just about "Jerusalem" or about the centre or the North, but also about "Capernaüm" or about the margins, about the periphery!

Yes, it is time to integrate these different horizons that constitute our Mother Church, in its joys and sorrows, in its mystery and paradox.

For us African Jesuits living in this African continent still recovering from the wounds of "anthropological pauperisation" and still confronted with the experience of "anthropological poverty" (Engelbert Mveng), this election that gives voice to the periphery and draws attention to the marginalized, challenges us: we must become attentive to "the cry of the African people" (Jean-Marc Ela) and to "the God of the oppressed" (James cone) who calls us to serve "under the banner of the cross" (St Ignatius of Loyola). Yes, we are challenged! Our works, parishes, schools, universities, centers, communities should serve for the promotion of social justice and for the defence of the poor, and should reflect a faith that takes seriously our African challenges and the living conditions of our peoples.

"May God make vigilant those who sing the Lord, that they not be, at the same time, accomplices of misfortune where their brethren are held!" (PTP, F168).

May God "give meaning to our desires, and a future to our labours" .

 

Fr Bienvenu Mayemba, sj,

Professor of African Theology and Postcolonial Theory Jesuit Faculty of Theology in Africa and Madagascar

Campus of Abidjan-ITCJ, Ivory Coast


 

[1] Cf. Days of the Lord, vol. 3, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1993, p. 113-114.

 

 

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