General Congregation 36, Fr Arturo Sosa SJ and delegates
The delegates of the Jesuit General Congregation 36, held in Rome would like to share with you the fruits of their discussions captured in this decree ‘Companions in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice’.
These extracts are taken from the full document that aspires to bring hope and a strengthened commitment to mission to members of the Society of Jesus and their collaborators in ‘a faith that does justice’.
The calls to reconciliation with God, humanity and creation
At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is the transforming encounter with the mercy of God in Christ that moves us to a generous personal response. (19)
“Mercy,” Pope Francis reminds us, “is not an abstraction but a lifestyle consisting in concrete gestures rather than mere words.” (20) For us Jesuits, compassion is action, an action discerned together. (22)
In faith, we know that, amidst the difficulties and challenges of our time, God continues his work of “reconciling the world to himself in Christ.”(40) We pray for the courage and the freedom “to dare the audacity of the ‘improbable,”as we respond to God’s call “with the humility of those who know that, in this service where the human engages all his energy, ‘everything depends on God.’ ” (38)
General Congregation 36,Fr Arturo Sosa SJ prays before the tomb of St.Ignatius
Renewal, peace, hope and collaboration
All our ministries should seek to build bridges, to foster peace. (31)
The Congregation calls the entire Society to a renewal of our apostolic life founded on hope. We need more than ever to bring a message of hope. (32) We do not want to propose a simplistic or superficial hope. Rather, our contribution, as Father Adolfo Nicolás always insisted, should be characterised by depth: a depth of interiority and “a depth of reflection that allows us to understand reality more deeply and thus to serve more effectively.” (33)
Collaboration with others is the only way the Society of Jesus can fulfill the mission entrusted to her. (36) Because of the magnitude and interconnectedness of the challenges we face, it is important to support and encourage the growing collaboration among Jesuits and Jesuit apostolates through international and intersectoral networks, strengthening our identity, sharing our capacities and local engagements in order together to serve a universal mission. (35)
A discerning hospitable community
Communal discernment requires that each of us develop some basic characteristics and attitudes: availability, mobility, humility, freedom, the ability to accompany others, patience, and a willingness to listen respectfully so that we may speak the truth to each other. (11)
Lunch break-building a home in Gendrassa refugee camp, Maban, South Sudan (Andrew Ash/Jesuit Refugee Service)
It is critical to emphasise the continuing relevance of the real closeness of the First Companions to the poor. As Pope Francis reminds us: we are called to find Christ in the poor, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to understand them. Such an attitude runs counter to the usual way of the world in which “the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.” (15)
With the poor, we can learn what hope and courage mean. In our communities and apostolates, we hear the call to rediscover hospitality to strangers, to the young, to the poor, and to those who are persecuted.
Christ himself teaches us this hospitality. (16)
Renewed Governance for a Renewed Mission
The second Decree emminating from the GC36 is entitled ‘Renewed Governance for a Renewed Mission‘. In it the Jesuit delegates have set out the agreed ways of proceeding through discernment, collaboration and networking in Apostolic work for the Society of Jesus.
A review of steps taken since GC35 ‘Governance at the Service of Universal Mission’ in 2008 was taken. (10) Recommendations follow for Father General and central governance, for administration of goods, for Conferences of Major Superiors, for provincial and regional goverance and for local governance. (14)
In conclusion ‘Re- imagining and seeking the greater and more universal good’ ends on a note of committment to discernment, collaboration and networking. God’s grace can move the Society of Jesus closer to the fulfillment of its service of mission. (27)
Decree 2: Renewed Governance for a Renewed Mission
Author: General Congregation 36 delegates, November 2016