Fr. Arturo Sosa to the population of Goa

Over the past few days, Fr. Arturo Sosa’s team has been besieged with media requests for interviews with the General. Unfortunately, with Fr. General’s schedule already abridged by the February Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome, there was no practical way to accommodate all the interviews and give each one the time they deserved. In consultation with Fr. Roland Coelho, Provincial of Goa, the team chose to instead address all the requests, and the most frequently asked questions, in a video message from Father General to the people of Goa.

Formulating the video message proved to be more challenging than expected because of the demographic makeup of Goa. While it is true that this region of India has one of the higher percentages of Catholics when compared to the rest of the country, a result of Portuguese colonization and the presence of Francis Xavier, the message could not be addressed specifically to Christians. The fact is that many who are interested in the Society of Jesus, Ignatian Spirituality and Fr. General’s visit don’t actually share a Christian faith. In true interreligious fashion, Fr. Arturo Sosa chose to share something that reaches across faiths and touches ALL the people of Goa and India herself: the four recently announced Universal Apostolic Preferences.

In the video message, Fr. General suggested that the Universal Apostolic Preferences can be seen as areas of collaboration between Jesuits and people of good will of all religious faiths. While the UAPs – Promoting Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises, Walking with the Excluded, Caring for our Common Home, and Journeying with Youth – were given to the Jesuits by the Holy Father as a mission that will guide the Society for the next ten years, they belong to ALL people of ALL faiths, and not just to the Society of Jesus.

It was in that sense of mission that Fr. General ended his message with an invitation to all the people of Goa to collaborate: “May these four preferences motivate us to work sincerely to promote the human person, created by God. There is common ground in actively creating a better future. We need to work together – you and we - towards creating a better humanity and a better tomorrow for all. Dev borem korum! (Thank you!)”

Here are some key sentences from his message on each of the preferences:

-We want to show people the way to God through prayer and discernment; we want to help all people to find union with God.

-I want the Goa Jesuits and their partners in mission to work together in a common undertaking, that is, to walk with the poor.

-We must live coherent lives, which are deeply spiritual and open so that our lives can inspire the youth.

-We need to modify our lifestyles so that we can save this land, this planet, for those who come after us.