The last General Congregation (1995) stated that interreligious dialogue is an integral element of Jesuit mission and recommended to Fr General to explore the feasibility of setting up a Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue. Within a short time, Fr General carried out the recommendation and established at the Curia a Secretariat to which he appointed Fr Thomas Michel.
Six years after its opening the Secretariat called the Coordinators from all the Assistancies to gather in Rome to examine the situation of interreligious dialogue in the Society. The reports from the Coordinators make clear the great diversity of the Society's response to the call of the General Congregation.
In Asia, the interreligious dialogue is an inescapable alternative even if limited by the refusal of some religions to enter into it, and by the reserve of some Christian groups.
In Africa, there is an ongoing need for inculturation of the Christian message, which requires a dialogue with native religions. The dialogue is supported by Christians who see their cultural roots strengthened by it.
Immigration in European countries goes in hand with the dynamic presence of Islam. The oriental spirituality of Buddhism, vague and exotic, continues to appeal to some Europeans.
Immigration is an important element in the social changes experienced by the United States. Jesuit schools, for instance, are confronted with a so-far-unexperienced religious diversity among their students.
In Latin America the sects and native cultures are the main actors in the interreligious dialogue.
The richness of the June 13-14 meeting is expected to help in defining more clearly the concept of interreligious dialogue, and in the preparation of young Jesuits to work in this field.
Two days after the meeting, in a speech to the bishops of Benin, the Pope said: "For the Catholic Church the interreligious dialogue is a commitment of great importance, geared as it is to promote unity and charity among persons and peoples. The faithful in every Christian community are called to participate, in different ways and at different levels, in the interreligious dialogue." [Jesuit Press and Information Office, Rome]
Evangelization in Asia should not consist of merely preaching a Christian creed, because other religions also play a role in God's plan of salvation, said Fr Michael Amaladoss SJ, a Catholic theologian from India.
"[Jesus] does not come to dominate others with an exclusive claim to proof. He is, rather, the suffering servant, who comes in humility, to love and to serve," he said at the Catholic Theological Society of America's national convention in Milwaukee.
When proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia, missionaries and teachers should show that he is special and invite others to find their inspiration in him, Fr Amaladoss said, adding that Jesus' appeal must "not consist primarily in the dogmatic statements that we can make about him."
"We do not preach a creed. We do not proclaim and prove that Jesus is a son of God. We announce the good news that the kingdom of God is here," said the professor of systematic theology since 1973 at the Vidya Jyoti School of Theology in New Delhi.
To preach about Jesus from the context of Christianity's belief that he is the only way to salvation is to deny the legitimacy of other Asian religions, said Fr Amaladoss. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Fr Kevin Fitzgerald SJ was quoted in a news article in the June 8, 2001, issue of Science magazine about stem cell research (page 1822). He argued against the use of embryonic stem cells. As an alternative, he suggested using embryos from non-human primates. The article noted that Fr Fitzgerald is a Jesuit priest, a bioethicist, and molecular geneticist at Loyola University Medical Center outside Chicago. He is also a founding member of the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, which is trying to prevent the use of human embryonic stem cells. Opposing arguments were also presented, but the article portrayed Fr Fitzgerald and his views in a favorable light. Science magazine is a widely-read and respected news and research journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
War remains the main cause of forced migration, says the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), with armed conflict and human rights violations pushing ever increasing numbers of people to leave their homes.
In a statement marking World Refugee Day on June 20, JRS highlighted the needs of an estimated 50 million forcibly displaced people worldwide and called on states to honor their commitment under the Geneva Convention to protect them. "The international community must protect and defend the rights of refugees, many of whom are vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers around the world," said JRS International director, Lluis Magrina SJ.
JRS notes that international support for refugees has declined (the UNHCR budgetary target for 2002 is $130 million less than the initial 2001 budget), a development that will "severely affect" the work of JRS and other organizations. "All refugees have the right to assistance, and states have to pay for that," said Fr Magrina. [Source: JRS]
The JRS statement is available at www.jesref.org/inf/alert/jrswrd01.htm
Catholic politicians should consider drawing up legislation to regulate the rights and responsibilities of homosexual and heterosexual couples living together without marriage, said the Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica, which is reviewed by the Vatican before publication.
The growing number of cohabitating couples is "a social phenomenon" that should be regulated, said a mid-June editorial.
"That which a Catholic politician can never accept is that homosexual unions be equated with regular families and be given the same rights recognized as belonging to -- not conceded to -- families, particularly regarding the adoption of minors," the editorial said.
Fr Gianpaolo Saldini SJ, director of the magazine, said that some Catholic politicians refuse even to consider the idea of regulating homosexual unions "as if that would be a recognition or an admission of their legitimacy. But politicians must make laws to protect people who are vulnerable.
"Catholics obviously believe it is best for a child to be born into a normal family, but politicians cannot ignore the fact that does not always happen today," Fr Saldini said.
The editorial, which discussed a wide range of social problems facing newly elected members of parliament in Italy, did not offer ideas of what legislation on cohabitating couples should include.
However, it said, the current "uncontrolled status" of so many couples living together without marriage was leaving too many people vulnerable, especially children. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
The preservation of the Christian presence in the Holy Land is an essential component of peace in the Middle East, said Fr Drew Christiansen SJ, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, speaking at a Washington briefing, "Jerusalem: the Intifada and Beyond."
"The press, even many experts, tend to think the only stake of the church is protection of the holy places and freedom of access to them. But for many years we have put an even higher priority on seeing that the Christian communities of the Holy Land can flourish," said Fr Christiansen.
Fr Christiansen, who serves as adviser on Middle Eastern affairs for the US bishops' conference, said the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, has put at risk the future of the Christian community there.
The Christian residents of Bethlehem are squeezed by Palestinian militants, who use their neighborhood to attack Israeli troops and settlers, on one side, and by the Israeli military, which uses "indiscriminate and excessive fire in response," on the other side, he said.
Fr Christiansen said that the Israeli military policy of "preventative deterrence," which he defined as unprovoked attacks on civilian neighborhoods and farmland with the alleged goal of discouraging attack and denying cover to guerrilla fighters, has only added to the region's instability.
He said Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories must end, but he also called for the end of violence initiated by both sides.
"The Palestinian decision to engage in an armed uprising has had calamitous results for all the people of Palestine," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Three Jesuit educators visited Saint Louis University during its inaugural Atlas Week, which emphasized the international aspects of the university.
Here are a few of their insights on how their respective university lives out the Jesuit mission.
Gonzalo Arroyo, SJ
"St Ignatius and the early Society of Jesus stepped forward and founded universities that met the needs of the times by drawing on and applying the eternal Christian vision. So today, the Jesuit universities must step forward to continue the same mission in contemporary societies, to meet the educational, intellectual, and research needs of our time. Our task is to offer the university communities a meeting place for the third millennium. Our universities should be a place for study and interdisciplinary reflection, as well as for social integration and multicultural pluralism, all in the context of the Good News of the Gospel." --Gonzalo Arroyo SJ, professor of ethics and development and vice president of international relations for Alberto Hurtado University in Santiago, Chile, the newest Jesuit institution in the world
David Wessels, SJ
"There is an aspect of the general cultural and Christian educational culture that have to be dialoguing all the time. How does the universal character come across in the Jesuit educational mission, which we believe? I think this is a very crucial question for the next century. Is there such a thing as global institution? Is there such a thing as global culture? If so, how does this relate to our universal Christian educational idea?" --David Wessels SJ, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, where only 1 percent of the student population is Catholic "
Mauricio Gaborit, SJ
We see that the ultimate and integral goal of the university is then, the liberation of the impoverished and dispossessed majority. This objective must inform its leadership, its internal organization, its planning, and its activities. The university as a whole, in each and every one of its components, which can and must have immediate goals, must put itself at the service of attaining this ultimate and integral goal of liberation." --Mauricio Gaborit SJ, academic vice president for the University of Central America Jos� Sime�n Canas in El Salvador [Source: Saint Louis University; Photos by Chris Waldvogel]
An autonomous federal immigration agency would not be a good thing for South Africa, cautioned South Africa's national director of Jesuit Refugee Service, Fr Tim Smith SJ.
He said he has "grave reservations" about government plans to set up two refugee reception centers where victims of war and human rights abuses in other countries will be detained pending determination of their status.
The proposed centers will be "in the middle of nowhere, far from city centers where refugees would normally have access to quality health care and opportunities for income generation," he added.
Under current legislation, refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to the same basic human rights South African citizens have, including the rights to freedom of association, to health care, food and water, freedom from arbitrary detention, detention without trial, and from cruel and degrading treatment.
Confining refugees to the reception centers effectively denies them these rights, Fr Smith said. Despite their harsh treatment by South Africans, refugees should remain integrated with local communities, where they have the freedom to come and go as well as informal opportunities to earn money, he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
The Holy Father accepted the resignation of Msgr Ugo Moretto from the position of director general and secretary of the administrative council of the Vatican Television Center (CTV), at the same time appointing Fr Federico Lombardi SJ -- program director of Vatican Radio--as director general "ad interim" of the CTV.
The CTV was created in 1983 and in 1996 it was officially recognized as an organization fully associated with the Holy See. The principal aim of CTV is to contribute to spreading the universal message of the Gospel by using television to document the Pope's pastoral ministry and the activities of the Apostolic See. [Source: www.jesuits-europe.org]
Rarely does an issue of this Newsletter go by without someone, somewhere in the world, bringing to our attention some sort of mis-statement. Occasionally it is a factual error; more commonly, it is a typographical error. Today's example comes from the last issue where we stated that:
"Jul 2, 1558: St Francis Borgia is elected general in the Second General Congregation ..."
"Jul 4, 1558: To celebrate the election of Fr James Laynez as General of the Society on July 2 ..."
If you believe what what printed, we had TWO Generals! We apologize for the error. The text should have read:
Jul 2, 1565: St Francis Borgia is elected general in the Second General Congregation.
"Jul 4, 1558: To celebrate the election of Fr James Laynez as General of the Society on July 2 ..."
In summary: the First General Congregation (1558) elected LAYNEZ; the Second Congregation (1565) elected BORGIA..
If the U.S. can go through weeks of incertaincy about who was elected its president, I guess the readers of this Newsletter can handle the details of the past!
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