Seal of the Jesuits
Jesuit USA Newsletter

April 06, 2005


Letter of Father General: On the Death of the Holy Father

Dear Fathers and Brothers,
The Peace of Christ!

Yesterday, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, entered into eternal Light. Following our tradition, all members of the Society are invited to celebrate the Eucharist for him. Moreover, in churches of the Society, a liturgical celebration is to be held with participation of the faithful (Manual for Juridical Practice 304 § 3,1). With deep sorrow, let us pray for eternal peace for him to whom the Society is closely connected with a special bond of mission and service.

When in the last days of 2004 the Holy Father received me for thirty minutes in his library, nothing indicated to me that the end of his intensely pastoral life was near. His voice was doubtless guttural, but nevertheless understandable. As in past years he wanted to personally entrust to me the intentions of the Apostleship of Prayer for the new year. Expressing his gratitude to the Society for this service that benefits at least fifty million faithful, the Holy Father reiterated his marvel at seeing a religious family that assumes an apostolic activity so important for the Church, called to promote the prayer of the faithful for the intentions of the universal Pastor. It is a characteristic mission of those who believe in their vocation of being contemplatives in apostolic action. As the Holy Father himself asked, I renewed the promise of prayerful accompaniment in his sufferings and his offering of courage and love until the end of his life, for the Church.

Let us thank the Lord for the gift of his "Vicar on earth" for the Church, for the Society, and for the world in a time as important, anguished and complex as this period of its history.

Fraternally yours in the Lord,
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach SJ, Superior General
Rome, 3 April 2005
[Source: SJ Europe News]

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A Picture Was Worth a Thousand Words, Jesuit Says

Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, who is in charge of both the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio programming, said that even when Pope John Paul II’s masterly use of language and his actor's skill with his voice were on full display, he communicated primarily by seeing and being seen.

Fr Lombardi spoke on March 22 at a presentation of a new documentary on the pope.

"John Paul II: The Untold Story" includes dozens of clips, most of them gleaned from Vatican television archives, and only the original sound of the pope, the crowds, or local television journalists commenting as they watched the pope go by.

The pope’s pontificate was one that for most people was communicated through the eyes—also through the ears, but not primarily, the Jesuit said.

This was the first pontificate in which television was the dominant medium, Fr Lombardi noted.

It was not simply the result of television's pervasive presence in the modern world, the Jesuit said. It reflected a papal choice. The pope wanted to be seen, he said, and not just when he was young and energetic.

Fr Lombardi said the pope let himself be seen with extreme naturalness, showing God and the world who he was. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Jesuit Gives Eyewitness Account of Recent Indonesia Earthquake

Fr Edi Mulyono SJ, director of Jesuit Refugees Service (JRS) in Indonesia, related a dramatic eyewitness account of experiencing the latest earthquake to rock the country.

"We felt the earth trembling under our feet amidst general panic and cries of earthquake, earthquake! People were running everywhere. The evening of March 28 was terror condensed. It will not be easy to forget," he said. Fr Mulyono was in Aceh when the earthquake struck.

"If there was panic in Aceh imagine the fear and devastation in Nias, where thousands were crushed as homes collapsed. In Aceh as in Nias, electricity and communications were cut off. People tried anxiously to contact family and friends. Even now many are still searching for loved ones, and many are losing hope. Not even mobile telephones are working. With our JRS volunteers we set to work immediately to see what should be done. After the earlier tragedy of the tsunami, now this earthquake, the people are exhausted and close to despair."

Fr Mulyono said they all held their breath for several hours fearing another tsunami: "We went down to the port, taking great care, to see what was happening. We tried to reach our office in Medan to coordinate emergency aid but it was hours before we were able to contact them.

"Indonesian police forces and civilian administration personnel are fully involved in providing relief assistance. Only days ago the Indonesian government asked international organizations to leave Aceh now that the emergency period is over and the work of reconstruction has started. But I expect now the government will change its mind: Sumatra needs the help of the international community to overcome this second heavy blow. We must be at their side today and in the near future." [Source: FIDES/CWNews.com]

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Meeting of Major Superiors of the Society Announced

The official announcement of a Meeting of Major Superiors to be held at Loyola, Spain, was signed by Father General on March 8. The first session will be on November 26 at 5:00 pm, and the closing ceremony will take place at Javier, Pamplona (Spain), on the morning of December 3, the feast of St Francis Xavier.

The ceremony at Javier will inaugurate the Jubilee Year of the Society to commemorate 450 years from the death of St Ignatius and 500 years from the birth of St Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre.

Father General indicated the topics to be discussed. After the opening allocution concerning the state of the Society by Father General, the presentation of four topics will start: Governance in the Society; Apostolic Preferences (Africa, China, the Intellectual Apostolate, Refugees and Migrants, Roman Houses); Formation of Ours; and Collaboration with Externs. The discussion of each of these themes in plenary and linguistic groups will be followed by the submission of proposals. [Source: SJ Electronic Information Service March 15, 2005 www.sjweb.info/newslink.cfm]

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Xavier Castle Renovated

After one year of restoration work, the ancestral castle of St Francis Xavier in Javier will be ready to open its doors to visitors within a short time. Beyond the needed repairs of the old buildings, there was also the intention to restore and renovate, as far as possible, certain rooms of particular importance in the life of Xavier.

The room where he was born was irremediably lost at the end of the 19th century when the tower of the castle was demolished. But the chapel of the smiling Christ, perhaps the most significant corner of the castle because it evokes the life of piety of Xavier during his infancy and youth, has been restored with great care and success.

The work in the museum, with sculptures and paintings of Xavier, is also a valuable contribution to the interest of the compound. The restoration of the castle aims at offering a space for prayer as well as a cultural and historical stimulus. [Source: SJ Electronic Information Service]

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Death of Antonio de Aldama SJ

Fr Antonio M de Aldama, of the Province of Andalusia, died in Rome at the age of 97 on March 16. He had been a member of the Society for 80 years. Fr de Aldama was Secretary of the Society from 1945 to 1950. His invaluable investigations and publications on the Institute of the Society, especially on the Constitutions, filled a good part of his long life and have earned him the gratitude of the entire Society.

The American Assistancy and the English-speaking world of the Society of Jesus owe a special debt of gratitude to Fr de Aldama. He was very influential in persuading Father General Janssens to allow Fr George Ganss to translate and publish the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus in English. In addition he assisted Fr Ganss at every stage of his work on that project.

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Indian Church Leader Praises US Decision Denying Visa to Politician

Indian Jesuit Fr Cedric Prakash has praised a US decision to deny a visa to an Indian political leader over his role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat state that killed more than 1,000 people.

Fr Prakash, who heads the human rights organization Prashant in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, said the US government's decision to deny a visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi "is an indicator that the global community is becoming concerned at the happenings in Gujarat. The denial will hopefully lead to the desired harmony and peace in the state," he said. Modi had been scheduled to speak to a group of Indian businessmen in Florida in mid-March.

The US State Department said it based its decision on its annual International Religious Freedom Report and the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which faulted Gujarat leaders with failing "to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state" during the 2002 riots.

Fr Prakash said human rights violations have continued under Modi's rule and that state leaders have "neither shown remorse nor created the necessary environment for justice and peace."

Fr Prakash said that the US action was "not a question of one religion against another. It is a question of people from various walks of life seeking justice." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Jesuit Cardinal Expected to Influence Conclave

Although no longer considered a leading candidate to become pope, Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini still is expected to exercise influence within the conclave to elect Pope John Paul II's successor.

Cardinal Martini, 78, retired as archbishop of Milan in 2002 and began living most of each year in Jerusalem where, he said, he continues his Scripture scholarship and prays for peace.

The cardinal is known as a strong pastor and administrator. He once was seen as a leading voice for wider discussion and dialogue on some controversial Church positions, but Biblical studies, Catholic-Jewish dialogue, and praying for peace in the Middle East have become the focal points of his retirement.

Cardinal Martini's leadership as president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences for six years and as a member of the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has made him a familiar face among many of his fellow cardinals.

Cardinal Martini has made news with his openness to the possibility of allowing married Latin-rite priests under certain circumstances, ordaining women as deacons, and allowing Communion for some divorced Catholics in subsequent marriages not approved by the Church.

Cardinal Martini became the first Jesuit in 35 years to head an Italian archdiocese when he became archbishop of Milan in 1980. The Archdiocese of Milan, with more than 5 million inhabitants and more than 1,100 parishes, has given the Church two popes—Pius XI and Paul VI—in the last 83 years. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Commemorating Archbishop Romero's Murder

Fr Jon Sobrino SJ spoke of faith in Jesus, liberation, and hope at Central American University in San Salvador on March 28 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar A Romero.

Fr Sobrino said that these days faith often loses its connection with reality. "To follow Jesus is to make Jesus real," he said. He warned against letting the words "justice" and "injustice" disappear from everyday language, especially in political circles. "I have the intuition that the first battle could be the battle of language," Fr Sobrino said.

Throughout the week, workshops were held on issues such as Church martyrs, international solidarity, and the future of the Latin American Church.

Archbishop Romero, who spoke out against government and military repression against Salvadorans, was gunned down on March 24, 1980, while celebrating mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Landmark Papal Exhibit to Open at Xavier University

Transcripts, photos, prayers books, and more are being gathered from around the world for an exhibition documenting Pope John Paul II's life-long affirming relationship with the Jewish people, the first exhibition on the subject ever assembled.

The world premiere of "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and The Jewish People" is scheduled to open at Xavier University on May 18, 2005, what would have been the pope's 85th birthday. The exhibition takes its name from the pope's commemoration in 1993 of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to walk through several rooms representing various stages of the pope's life, including one from his childhood. There will also be an interactive area where visitors can write prayers that will be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The exhibition will stay at Xavier until late summer 2005, and then move to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. From there, it will tour Catholic and Jewish colleges and universities and other venues in the United States before traveling to Europe and becoming a permanent display in Israel. [Source: Xavier University]

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Campus News in Brief

George Tenet Joins Georgetown

George Tenet, who served as director of the CIA from 1997 to 2004, has been appointed Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Tenet, who will begin teaching in the fall of 2005, will also be a senior research associate in the school's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Real-life Hotel Rwanda Manager to Speak at Xavier University

Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager portrayed by Don Cheadle in last year’s critically acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda, will speak at Xavier University on April 13 on the topic of "Hotel Rwanda: A Lesson Yet to be Learned." A middle-class Hutu married to a Tutsi and the father of four children, Rusesabagina's hotel, the Mille Collines, became a refuge for those fleeing the genocide that occurred in 1994.

Jesuit Appointed to Faculty of Harvard Divinity School

Francis X Clooney SJ, Professor of Comparative Theology at Boston College since 1984, has been named the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at the Harvard Divinity School; he will assume this position on July 1, 2005. Fr Clooney's research projects include classical Hinduism in its Sanskrit and Tamil language traditions, with a focus on Hindu theologies; the Jesuit missionary tradition in 16th-18th Century India; and the development of a Christian comparative theology.

Noam Chomsky to Speak at Gonzaga University

Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned linguist, intellectual, philosopher, and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will speak on the topic, "America's Quest for Global Dominance," on April 21 at Gonzaga University. [Sources: Georgetown Magazine, Xavier University, Boston College, Gonzaga University]

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On the Web

Prayer Request for Pope John Paul II

Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office has developed a web site to assist us in praying for the late Pope at www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/jpii.html

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Remembrance of Things Past

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From the Editors

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