A crisis of Leadership
Partnership. Leadership. Reconciliation. Action in the face of urgency.
These are values that Fr. Arturo Sosa has called for since he was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus in September of 2016. These themes have become even more prominent as he released the Universal Apostolic Preferences, guidelines for Jesuit life and mission for the next ten years, and participated in the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome. It was no surprise then, that Fr. Sosa emphasized those same values on his visitation to the ministries of the Society of Jesus in India.
Standing before an assembly of Alumni of Jesuit schools and colleges in Bandra, Fr. Sosa appealed to their common experience of Ignatian Spirituality and the ability to discern that comes with it: “Today, more than ever, humans need to unlock the liberating potential that lies at the heart of spirituality and religious traditions. Jesuits and Jesuit institutions offer Ignatian Spirituality as a powerful way of helping each person arrive as his/her own personal encounter with God.” That personal encounter has formed 'men and women for others', or as they have been referred to throughout the visitation, 'people of good will' with whom the Society not only CAN, but MUST partner in order to continue its mission.
However, partnership alone isn’t enough. Over the course of his visitation the General has listened intently to Jesuits, lay partners and those being served by the ministries of the Society, and from those conversations he concluded, “We witness today a crisis of leadership in the public sphere. Political leaders have filled us with empty promises and we are often left lamenting the lack of good governance.” Not wanting to fall into the same finger-pointing mentality as those who have perpetuated the crisis, Fr. Sosa quickly added, “this is our fault as well and our lamentations from the sidelines will not improve the situation in any way.” He then directly challenged the assembly to make that crisis their personal responsibility and move from lamentation to action, saying “there is a need for men and women of integrity to set aside their personal careers and plunge into public services.”
If our alumni, our ‘men and women for others’, our partners who are ‘people of good will’ are willing to step into those leadership roles, then we can bring the incredible tool that is Ignatian Spirituality into action that can “form the conscience of individuals and promote a culture of fraternity and acceptance.” With that tool, the General continued, we can answer the “Mission of Reconciliation and Justice” that calls us to “reconciliation with God, with humanity and with creation.”
Recognizing the good works that the Alumni are already doing for the people of India, Fr. Sosa thanked them for their tireless commitment, then left them with a sense of urgency, telling them “the immense suffering and injustice in our world is a scandal that goes against the Divine plan and offends the very concept of human dignity.” This is not a mission for the following generation, or the following decade, or even the following year, but one that must be undertaken now.