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Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Fr. Arrupe

It will be 100 years (on November 14th) since Pedro Arrupe was born, and here and there on the web you can find mention of the occasion. Fr. Arrupe was/is somewhat controversial but I have the greatest respect for him not despite this but because of it. He's the father, in some ways, of liberation theology, and put into practice in a radical way Ignatius' belief that love is best shown in deeds rather than words.

Here below is some of a Sept. 2007 talk given by Kevin F. Burke, S.J., Academic Dean at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley - THE LEGACY OF FR. PEDRO ARRUPE, S.J., IN CELEBRATION OF THE 100TH CENTENARY OF HIS BIRTH - link.


Interpreting Pedro Arrupe

I would like to open my reflections on the legacy of Pedro Arrupe with several quotations. Taken together they capture something about this strange organization – the Society of Jesus – that St. Ignatius Loyola founded in the 16th century and that Arrupe himself led in the late 20th century. They also provide us with a sense of the feelings that Arrupe himself incited. The first quotation comes from a letter from written by one ex-president of the United States, John Adams, to another, Thomas Jefferson, in 1816. Adams writes:

If ever any Congregation of Men could merit eternal Perdition on Earth and in Hell, it is the company of Loyola.

The second quotation is the opening paragraph of lead story published in Time Magazine on April 23, 1973 entitled “The Jesuits: Catholicism Troubled Front Line.”

Some of their critics have consigned them, in holy outrage, to the lower regions of hell. Some of their defenders, with equally fervent conviction, see them as saints destined for the higher reaches of heaven. Whatever their presumed destination, they are arguably the most remarkable company of men to embark on a spiritual journey since Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles. With a certain pride, they have adopted the name their enemies once used against them in derision. They are the Jesuits.

What is true of the Jesuits in general seems especially true of the man pictured on the cover of that particular edition of Time Magazine thirty-four years ago, the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe. He himself attracted admirers and detractors of equally fervent passion. Perhaps it is a testament to Fr. Arrupe’s importance that, years after he died in 1991 he can still excite very strong feelings of various kinds. Consider, for example, the following comments from a letter addressed to me by one Gerald T. Griffin of Falmouth Maine on July 6, 2005. Mr. Griffin writes:

Dear Father Burke,
I just got done reading a review of your book, Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings. Now, I realize, Father, that you were only ordained in 1986, so your empirical knowledge of the administration of Reverend Pedro de Arrupe y Gondra, S.J. from 1965 to 1983 is limited. None of Father Arrupe’s writings are essential and he is best forgotten as the 28th Father General…. [Mr. Griffin goes on to point out several of Fr. Arrupe’s most egregious crimes – which he names Drinanism and Berriganism – and then concludes with this brief paragraph:] Father Arrupe’s betrayal of St. Ignatius resulted in the collapse of the Jesuit Order in the United States where Jesuits on the faculties of high schools and colleges are an endangered species. The less said about Father Arrupe, the better. His legacy is one of Mortal Sin clubs (sodomy and abortion) at B.C. and Holy Cross.
Yours in St. Michael the Archangel,
Gerald T. Griffin

From this perspective it seems that Fr. Arrupe betrayed not only the vision of St. Ignatius but the trust placed in the Jesuit order by Church and the papacy. Mercy Sister Janet Ruffing, a professor of spirituality and spiritual direction in the Graduate School of Religions and Religious Education at Fordham University offers a different assessment. She writes:

Everything Arrupe advocated was based on deep fidelity to the church – a relationship of personal loyalty to the popes under whom he served and of fidelity to the implementation of the agenda of Vatican II, which included an entirely new relationship of the church to the world, a renewal of religious life based on an adaptation to the changed social contexts of modern life, and an authentic renewal of the original charisms of religious communities.

And finally, Fr. Arrupe’s successor and the current superior general of the Jesuit order, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., calls Dom Pedro a spiritual master, comparing him to St. John the Baptist.

Pedro Arrupe is a spiritual master in the line of John the Baptist. Like John, he speaks prophetically from a life of ascetical simplicity and compassion. He confronts the great ethical and religious questions of the day, challenging not only his brother Jesuits and other men and women in vowed religious life, but all Christians and all people, to be rooted in truth and guided by love. He calls for authentic spiritual renewal, integrating prayer with the life of service. But above all, Father Arrupe is profoundly and passionately committed to Jesus Christ. Like John, he draws attention away from himself to Christ. He makes John’s words his own: he must increase; I must decrease.

In his own lifetime, Fr. Arrupe was controversial – seen by some as too hard-line and traditional and by others as too permissive of “new ways” that were damaging to the life of the church and to the traditions of religious life within the church. I can say, looking back on the years when I was attending Jesuit high school and college, that my teachers thought Fr. Arrupe was nothing short of a great man. Like Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, he faced the difficulties and challe ges of his complex and turbulent times with brilliance, holiness, and courage. Several years ago, in the Introduction to a small collection of his writings that I edited, I wrote of Father Arrupe:

He was the Superior General of the Society of Jesus when I entered the order in 1976 and in many ways – ways too numerous to count – he inspired, taught, encouraged, and formed me as a Jesuit. He was a hero to those entrusted with my early formation in the Jesuits and he quickly became my hero. More importantly, although I never met him personally, I count him among my spiritual friends and fathers in faith.

I will be up front on this point: I side with those who consider Pedro Arrupe a great man. He ranks with the three or four greatest Catholic leaders and saints of the 20th century, people like Oscar Romero, Mother Theresa and Pope John XXIII. He was, of course, a human being and, as such, a person of his times and his own training, with shortcomings of temperament and experience, with passions, biases, and even peculiarities. But his life itself serves as a parable of contemporary Christian discipleship. I believe his visionary leadership represents a gift to us who, a generation or two later, long to follow the path he followed out of love for Jesus Christ and a fidelity to his gospel ......

Finding God in All Things’ after Hiroshima

[...] In the early 1960s the church and the world were still feeling the aftershocks of the Second World War, the horrors of Auschwitz, the massacre of six million Jews, and the dawn of the Cold War and the nuclear age. How was the church to respond to this changed world? How do believers live in the world? These and similar questions motivated Pope John XXIII to call the Second Vatican Council.

The Council met from 1962 to 1965 and ignited an extraordinary process of renovation in response to the signs of the times. Vatican II dramatically reshaped Catholic liturgy and devotions. It renewed the forms of religious life and rediscovered the role of the laity. It shifted its relationships with other Christian churches and redefined its relationship to other religions, to secular institutions, and to the world itself as “secular”.

Taking his cue from the Council, Fr. Arrupe urged Jesuits to rediscover their call to contemplation in action, to a spirituality of a profound engagement with God in the World. The first companions who founded the Jesuits understood this to mean a spirituality of “finding God in all things.” For Arrupe and the Society he led it meant finding God even in the tragedies and tensions of world history and personal history, finding God in a world marked and symbolized by Hiroshima and Auschwitz, a world fraught with division and oppression. And the real trick is finding God and not just our own images of God, our own projections of what we think a god should look like. This requires us to discern the signs of the times, an important biblical saying adopted by Vatican II in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

Fr. Arrupe helped the Society of Jesus rediscover its fundamental call to discernment, its call to read the signs of the times. Before the council Jesuits ran schools, sent missionaries to so-called ‘mission lands,’ and did retreat work and spiritual ministries. After Vatican II, with a renewed sense of discernment, Jesuits found they were not so much called to abandon their schools or missions or retreat work, but to do all these things in new ways. We serve the Church by being at the growing edge where the church is constantly running up against the world. In the early 1970s, at General Congregation 32, the Society of Jesus asked itself this question: What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? The answer it gave is memorable. It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.

Men and Women for Others: Jesuit Education after Arrupe

The call to embrace a faith that does justice had an enormous impact on Jesuit education. In 1973, on the feast of St. Ignatius Valencia, Spain, Arrupe gave one of his most famous speeches. Its title has become a motto for Jesuit education: “Men and Women for Others”(23, 171). His audience was comprised of the alumni of Jesuit schools from various parts of Europe, many of whom came from wealthy and prestigious families. Early in his talk, Arrupe asked his audience whether their Jesuit teachers had adequately educated them for justice. He then observed, “You and I know what many of your Jesuit teachers will answer to that question. They will answer, in all sincerity and humility: ‘No, we have not’” (173). Arrupe explained:

Education for justice has become in recent years one of the chief concerns of the church. Why? Because there is a new awareness in the church that participation in the promotion of justice and the liberation of the oppressed is a constitutive element of the mission which Our Lord has entrusted to her… Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ – for the God- human who lived and died for all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce. This kind of education goes directly counter to the prevailing educational trend practically everywhere in the world

A generation later, one cannot help but notice that a palpable shift in Jesuit life and ministry has taken place. The task of “educating men and women for others” has become almost a byword in the various circles of Jesuit education. Many Jesuit schools now promote some version of this saying as an official or unofficial motto, and changes in the curricula and campus ministries of the schools reflect the shift to justice-centered evangelization (172). The Thirty-Second General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, which Arrupe called and over which he presided in 1974-1975, declared: “The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement.” This, perhaps more than anything else, represents the defining achievement of his term as Superior General of the Society of Jesus .....


I echo the final words of Fr. Burke's talk .... Pedro Arrupe is indeed a great man.


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