Seal of the Jesuits
Jesuit USA Newsletter

May 03, 2005

Jesuit Says Pope Must Seek New Way to Answer World's Spiritual Needs

The "enormous and dramatic" changes that have swept across the world since Pope John Paul II was elected demand that Pope Benedict XVI seek a fresh way to answer the world's spiritual needs, said Australian Jesuit Fr Gerald O'Collins, professor emeritus at Rome's Gregorian University.

"Faith is seeking; it's an ongoing process that needs a newness and freshness in a world that's changing so fast," he said.

Fr O'Collins said the rise of Islam, a globalized economy, and powerful mass media "are all new factors" that need to be taken into consideration when proclaiming the Gospel message.

The Church cannot "just repeat the language of 100 years ago," because to do so "is not facing reality," he said.

Fr O'Collins served as an advocate for Belgian Jesuit Fr Jacques Dupuis when Fr Dupuis's book, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, was being investigated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Benedict was head of the congregation at the time the 1998-2001 investigation was under way. The congregation concluded that the book contained no doctrinal errors, but there were "ambiguities and difficulties on important points which could lead a reader to erroneous or harmful opinions."

Fr O'Collins said "everyone in theology is trying to understand" what faith is all about and "they're trying to translate it into contemporary language." He said that by electing the 78-year-old former prefect of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation "the cardinals obviously opted for someone who wouldn't have a long papacy." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Four Months After the Tsunami -- An Update

One hundred days after the tsunami was marked with ceremonies and gatherings in both Aceh and Jakarta, Indonesia. "The people of Aceh seem pessimistic. The reconstruction work is going too slow. Meanwhile, the people feel that NGOs and government make promises, but that little is actually happening in the field. The destruction in Aceh is so vast, that it is even difficult to notice the improvements that are being made," Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Aceh information officer Enggal reported.

JRS has been in Aceh since 2001, and after the disaster, JRS opened new offices and programs in seven areas to help meet the needs of the people.

In total, JRS wants to rebuild 500 homes. JRS has chosen to assist the reconstruction of the villages that are further away from the regional capital of Banda Aceh. They also plan to repair and rebuild 15 schools throughout Aceh and provide school materials in several villages. [Source: SJ Eur News Service]


Jesuits Say John Paul II Won't be Made an Instant Saint

Jesuit Fr Hieronim Fokcinski, an official of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, dismissed press claims that Pope John Paul II could be beatified as early as October after receiving "popular acclamation" as a saint from Catholics worldwide. " This is complete fiction; although it's possible the process could be speeded up, such dates are totally imaginary," he said. "There's no possibility of acclaiming saints this way, particularly when doing so would bypass this congregation and appear to pre-empt decisions by a future pope."

Jesuit Fr Paolo Molinari, one of the Vatican's longest-serving postulators of saints' causes, said he would not be surprised if Pope John Paul were canonized someday.

"But these media reports have been organized by a group of Poles. They're setting up an atmosphere to pressure the Holy See to do something which hasn't been done for 500 years," he said.

Calls for Pope John Paul's canonization have proliferated since his funeral, during which placards were held up calling for him to be declared "subito santo," Italian for "saint immediately."

Fr Molinari said he believed a beatification process would take "a minimum of three-four years." Normal procedures require a minimum of five years to pass from a candidate's death before the process begins.

Current Church rules require detailed examination of all archival material on a sainthood candidate as well as the cross-examination of witnesses and the compilation of documentation on the person's life.

A commission of historians and theologians must also carry out investigations, before a group of cardinals refers the case to the pope for a final decision on the candidate's "heroic virtues." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Film to Celebrate 2006 Jubilee Year of Jesuits

To celebrate the triple anniversaries of Ignatius, Xavier, and Pierre Favre, Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach has approved a documentary that will focus on these men that will underline the innovative spirit of the first Jesuits.

Loyola Productions, a nonprofit Jesuit film and video company in Los Angeles, will coordinate a worldwide team of Jesuits and associates to produce the documentary, called Companions.

Production has already began on the project, which is slated to be done by fall. The film will include a mixture of still photos with voice over, archival footage, studio-shot scenes, and footage of Jesuit apostolates across the world.

“It’s thematic, much more about the early Jesuits and their charisms rather than highlighting individual provinces,” said Fr Eddie Siebert SJ, director of Loyola Productions. “We’re talking about God active in history but present now.”

The film will emphasize the three Jesuits as pilgrim (Ignatius), adventurous risk taker (Xavier), and spiritual director (Favre). “Through these themes, [we’ll show] how the Society acts today,” Fr Siebert said. “We’ll illustrate what’s happening in the world today.”

He added, “The goal [is] to get people talking so they can tap into their own experience and also move people to the future.” [Source: National Jesuit News]

Company magazine’s story on Loyola Productions is at: Up

Journalists Rely on Jesuit Editor for Expertise on Catholicism

In the cottage industry of religion commentators that has emerged with the death of Pope John Paul II and the subsequent conclave to elect his successor, Fr Tom Reese SJ was on television almost as much as the news anchors.

During the weekend of the pope's death, Fr Reese was quoted on the front page of the New York Times and appeared on 60 Minutes. CNN and an assortment of publications also regularly rely on him for his expertise.

Fr Reese's interviews, besides educating the general public, provide publicity for the Jesuits' America magazine, where he has been editor in chief since 1998. "I see this as part of my ministry," said Fr Reese. "It fits the Jesuit ministry. It is evangelization."

That work developed largely by accident, he recalled. In a previous stint as associate editor of America from 1978 to 1985, Fr Reese began covering the annual US bishops' meeting. At the first one he attended, he got there early and read through the bishops' agenda. The next morning in the press room, his apparent knowledge and Roman collar began attracting inquiries from puzzled reporters. He started answering questions and noticed that the reporters were taking notes.

Reporters seem to appreciate his accessibility. He regularly receives about five interview requests a day, which he tries to answer promptly with full knowledge about the tyranny of deadlines.

He said he is particularly proud of his work at America. Its circulation is close to 50,000, growing on average by more than 1,000 new subscriptions per year. The magazine is also navigating through the Internet age with its web site,

Fr Reese feels the future of publications such as his rests in understanding how the technology of the Internet can be best exploited.

"We are supposed to be preaching from the rooftops," he said about the Jesuits and their mission. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Ignatius Press to be US Publishing House for Pope Benedict's Work

Ignatius Press is Pope Benedict XVI's US publishing house. Fr Joseph Fessio SJ, the Press's director, met the future pope in 1972 while he was in Germany. A few years later Fr Fessio started Ignatius Press to publish European theologians whose writings weren't available in the United States.

Ignatius Press has the US copyright on 22 of the pope's books and has a written agreement from the pope to publish his future works in the United States. Usually about 25,000 copies of the pope's books sell annually; that many copies sold in the first four hours following the papal announcement alone.


John Carroll University Names Next President

Fr Robert Niehoff SJ, a vice president at the University of San Francisco, has been named as the next president of John Carroll University. Fr Niehoff will succeed Fr Edward Glynn SJ.

Fr Niehoff currently serves as vice president for planning and budget and associate provost for academic affairs at the University of San Francisco.

He has also served as treasurer of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley; associate treasurer of the Oregon Province; financial officer of the Archdiocese of Nassau, in the Bahamas; and financial analyst, co-director for Mission and Identity, and assistant to the vice president for Student Life at Gonzaga University. He is expected to assume the presidency in fall 2005. [Source: John Carroll University]


Brief Notices

French Jesuit Archives

Fr Robert Bonfils SJ, archivist of the French province at Vanves since 1990, has some particularly interesting documents to look after: Blessed Peter Faber's theological notes in unreadable Latin; the autograph form of St Alfonso Rodriguez's vows; letters of St Francis of Sales, St Vincent de Paul, Bossuet, Fénelon, Chateaubriand, Lacordaire, Claudel, Camus, and de Gaulle. Portraits and engravings of China, noted Fr Bonfils, are very much in demand from historians.

A Century of Service

This year marks 100 years of teaching, research, and service for the Creighton University School of Dentistry. Special events include a centennial Mass; an alumni, faculty, and student golf outing; and a centennial dinner and dance.

Jesuit Universities Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence

This April, Saint Joseph's University hosted its fifth annual “Take Back the Night” vigil to end sexual, physical, and emotional violence. The vigil included guest speakers who addressed the growing threat of sexual violence. Vice President for Mission Gerard McGlone SJ, spoke on the prevalence of violence in society and in religious traditions and communities. In addition, survivors of violence had a chance to speak out about their experiences.

Gonzaga University students performed a series of dramatic scenes in their "Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence" program on April 15. Each of the presentations addressed different aspects of sexual violence. The monologues were written by Gonzaga students, some who are survivors of sexual aggression and violation or who know survivors.

Jesuits Conduct Feasibility Study for Cristo Rey School in Minnesota

A new Cristo Rey High School is under consideration in the Twin Cities. Cristo Rey schools serve low-income students who attend school four days a week and work at entry-level, white collar jobs one day a week. The money they earn pays for a portion of tuition. [Sources: SJ Electronic Information Service, Creighton University, Saint Joseph’s University, Gonzaga University]


Remembrance of Things Past


From the Editors

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