Seal of the Jesuits
Jesuit USA Newsletter

April 15, 2007

Extensive Fire Damage at Jesuit Headquarters in Ireland

A fire at the Irish headquarters of the Jesuit Order in south Dublin has caused extensive damage to the building and destroyed a number of files. Six units of Dublin fire brigade brought the fire at the house on Eglington Road in Donnybrook under control on Good Friday afternoon. Four Jesuits live at the house but were away on retreat. Only one person was in the house when the blaze broke out, and he escaped uninjured.

The Provincial of the Jesuits in Ireland, Fr John Dardis, SJ, said he was thankful that no one had been injured by the blaze. He paid tribute to the work of the fire service and the Irish police who attended the scene. Fr. Dardis said that the main fear now was for extensive files and paperwork that were stored in the basement of the house. Members of the Jesuit Community were unable to return to the house until Sunday, as the fire continued to smolder throughout the weekend.

An examination of the scene of the fire and other information garnered by detectives has led them to consider arson as a possible cause of the fire. [RTE News]


British Jesuits Join Day of Prayer for Justice in Zimbabwe

The British Jesuits have responded to the Zimbabwe bishops' appeal for a Day of Prayer for the people of their country by posting a prayer on their web site and inviting people to visit it. The appeal came at the end of their Pascal Message, when they called for Saturday, April 14 to be the day when people turned their thoughts to Zimbabwe and offered a prayer that its current crisis may be resolved in a non-violent way.

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was a part of the British Province of the Society of Jesus until becoming a Province in its own right in 1978. Since then, the two countries have maintained strong links, with Jesuit Missions in London supporting a wide variety of Jesuit initiatives in Zimbabwe, including schools and colleges, HIV-awareness and work among the poorest of the population.

A Prayer for Justice in Zimbabwe is now on the Jesuit Missions web site: [Independent Catholic News 2007]


Morricone on The Mission

Ennio Morricone is a famous composer who has written the musical score for many films. This year, he received the Oscar to cap his whole career. Among all the scores he has composed, he is particularly attached to the music he created for The Mission, the 1986 film starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons, about the Jesuits in Paraguay. On that occasion too he was a candidate for the Oscar, and in a recent interview with Vatican Radio he expressed disappointment for not having received it.

He said that in his opinion, The Mission was the most beautiful music he ever composed. Asked the reason for that he said "Perhaps it is due to the deep empathy I felt with the joint sacrifice of Jesuits and Indios. This communion between Jesuits and Indios impressed me profoundly." [SJ Electronic Information Service, March 5, 2007]


Jesuit Rick Curry Testifies on Returning Veterans' Behalf

Brother Rick Curry, SJ, founder of National Theatre Workshop for the Handicapped (NTWH), recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction,VA Affairs, and Related Agencies. NTWH is seeking a $1.1 million dollar increase to the VA's 2008 budget to help fund an expansion of its programs designed to help disabled vets from Iraq and Afganistan transition to their new lives back home as permanently disabled citizens.

Brother Curry was one of 16 expert witnesses called before the committee. Others testifying included representatives of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Vietnam Vets of America, Amvets, and the National Military Family Association.

Brother Curry spoke of the goals of NTWH, their commitment to the disabled returning vets, and the urgent need to expand the scope of their programs to accommodate the growing numbers of these men and women.

At the conclusion of Curry's testimony, Congressman Sam Farr of California, vice-chairman of the committee, praised the work of Brother Curry and NTWH and said that he knows firsthand of the healing power of the arts in the lives of the disabled. "Creativity, always a vital part of America, is even more important when it is encouraged in the disabled," said Congressman Farr.


Specialized Health Center opened in Rome by JRS

In March, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Italy announced the opening of its latest healthcare assistance project for asylum seekers and refugees. The new center, opened in cooperation with one of Rome's local public healthcare centers, allows forced migrants, regardless of their status as refugees or asylum seekers, to register with the national healthcare system and thus receive medical assistance on the same basis as Italian nationals.

The idea underlying the project is to create a meeting space, a link between the world of forced migrants in JRS Italy and that of the healthcare system.

"Unfortunately, our experience of healthcare provision to forced migrants demonstrates that this right is theoretical, that only rarely can it be put into practice," said JRS Italy Director Giovanni La Manna. Aside from linguistic and cultural obstacles, forced migrants frequently lack a basic knowledge of their rights as users of the healthcare system. They often live in precarious circumstances, with little or no social support networks in poor and insecure housing. This can easily lead to difficulties accessing medical examinations and specialist healthcare. [JRS Dispatches no. 212]


Jesuits Call for Chevron to Adopt Human Rights Policy

For the second year in a row, the Jesuits have joined others in filing a human rights resolution that will be voted on by Chevron shareholders at their annual meeting in April. The Jesuits, along with dozens of other religious institutions along with Marquette and Creighton Universities, hope to influence Chevron's activity in the Niger Delta region of Africa.

According to the resolution, the rewards of resource-rich but impoverished areas such as the Niger Delta have generally eluded and often worsened the situation of people living near mineral wealth. With their influence and infrastructure, trans-national companies play a vital role in shaping policy in these areas. For the last few years, the Jesuits have also held dialogues with Chevron encouraging the adoption of a transparent, verifiable and comprehensive human rights policy to govern their operations in the 180 countries where they operate.

The National Jesuit Corporate Investment Responsibility committee (NJCIR) maintains that human rights must include provisions for sustainable development, consent of host communities, environmental stewardship, human rights training for employees and contracted security policies, and healthcare access.


Sobrino Right to Apply Gospel to Injustice, Vatican Paper says

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano says that Spanish Jesuit Jon Sobrino was right to apply the Gospel to concrete situations of social injustice but the liberation theologian risked going astray with his "Jesus of history". According to the article by Fr Antonio Stagliano, director of a theological institute in Naples, Italy, the problem in Fr Sobrino's work lies in his new type of Christology that seemed to prefer the "Jesus of history" to the "Christ of faith," Catholic News Service reports.

The article came 10 days after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a note warning of "erroneous or dangerous propositions" in the work of Fr Sobrino. Typically, such follow-up articles are arranged by Vatican officials to emphasise and explore arguments in the original notification.

Stagliano said Sobrino begins with a "very just" application of theology to the concrete situations of extreme poverty and injustice in Latin America and other parts of the world. Sobrino rightly believes that the Christian faith cannot act as a "sedative" in the face of such injustice, which affects millions of people. He said the risk of a Christian faith that reduces the event of Christ's incarnation to a doctrine is a real one.

In that sense, Stagliano offered a positive assessment of Sobrino's "theological perspective," but noted that his theology has raised some serious doubts as well. The article said problems arise when Sobrino makes the social setting of the poor the most crucial element in understanding Christ's saving mission. [Catholic News, March 28, 2007]


Jesuits Embrace Tom Waits as a Christian Role Model

Barely a week after Pope Benedict XVI disclosed his dislike for the "prophets of pop" and Bob Dylan in particular, the Jesuits in Rome have embraced rock musician Tom Waits as a Christian role model.

The latest issue of Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal, says that Waits represents "the marginalised and misunderstood". Fr Antonio Spadaro, SJ, who is emerging as a Roman Catholic authority on pop music, said that Waits had lived a life of "drugs, alcohol and sex" as a young outcast on the streets of California.

He therefore understands "the lower depths" of society, and is able to convey the desperation of those on the margins. His past also enables him to express their "capacity for hope and instinct for happiness" in "authentic songs devoid of vanity and false illusions," Father Spadaro said.

Pope Benedict revealed in his book John Paul II, My Beloved Predecessor, that he had warned the pontiff not to appear with Dylan at a pop concert in Bologna ten years ago. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict condemned rock music as the work of the Devil.

Last month, however, Father Spadaro insisted that rock was "not the music of Satan but has great expressive power which reaches peoples' souls." Speaking at a conference on rock music held by Civilta Cattolica, he said that rock was often "violent, angry, blasphemous and nihilistic." But he said that it could be channelled towards "spiritual renewal" instead, citing rock musician Nick Cave, who survived alcohol and drug abuse to write songs "inspired by the Bible." Father Spadaro said that Waits also offered "hope of a new dawn." [UK Times Online, 3/17/07]


Briefer Items of Note

Monument to Fr. Secchi

In late February a ceremony was held in the Vatican gardens to bless a monument to Fr. Angelo Secchi, S.J. (1818-1878), who was the first Jesuit Director of the Vatican Observatory. He made the first automatic station for the registration of meteorological data. [SJ Electronic Information Service, March 5, 2007]

How Many Jesuit Bishops?

At present there are 91 Jesuit Bishops: six are Cardinals, 58 Residential Bishops and 27 emeriti. There are ten Jesuit Cardinals: six are Cardinal-Bishops and four Cardinal-Deacons. Only two of the Jesuit Cardinals are electors (below 80 years of age) in an eventual conclave: Bergoglio of Argentina and Darmaatmadja of Indonesia.

Composition of Next General Congregation

General Congregation 35 of the Jesuits is scheduled to open in January 2008. Part of the process of preparing for this meeting, the Jesuit Provinces around the world elected representatives to go to Rome for this meeting.

The total number of Electors is 219. They come from many apostolic endeavors:

[SJ Electronic Information Service, March 5, 2007]


Remembrance of Things Past


From the Editors

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This newsletter is a service of Company Magazine, Copyright(c) 2006-2007. Page maintained by Company Magazine, [email protected] Created: 2/13/2007 Updated: 4/15/2007