February 15, 2019 — The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, paid an official visit to Central America from January 13 to 30. He visited Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala and he talked about youth, education, hope, justice and the common good.
Arriving in Panama on January 19, Father General spent time with a group of young people taking part in the Ignatian MAGIS journey, on the sidelines of the World Youth Days in Panama, which our companion Marc Rizzetto SJ called Ode to Joy.In his address to these Ignatian pilgrims, Father General described the young people as "signs of the times" themselves, capable of "perceiving the movement of God's Spirit in the world", and of going "to a place where they can dream, where the Spirit can move and where God can open their hearts to compassion". It is in this space, he adds, "that we feel the pain of our brothers and sisters and, emboldened by grace, we can decide to put ourselves at the service of others in the conviction that we can make a better world, a better humanity".
During his stay in Guatemala, Father General met Jesuits and representatives of various apostolates of the Society of Jesus, including a large number of educational houses. In his address to the Guatemalan Jesuits and their collaborators, Fr. Sosa urged them to "continue to work with determination in the service of the Kingdom, emphasizing human formation and education that enables citizens to commit themselves to the common good, making possible the emergence of a vocation to public service, where political action is seen as a contribution to the social order that allows the common good".
Arriving in a country affected by various economic, political and social tensions, Father General urged Honduran Jesuits and their collaborators not to succumb to despair, several of them having "openly expressed to him their fear of not having the capacity to follow the calls of the Holy Spirit and to maintain what is already being done well. The Society of Jesus expects you to be open to dreams and to believe that these dreams can come true," he told them. He called for "holy boldness" all the more so since we are confronted with the need for reconciliation in societies deeply fractured by economic injustice, violence, racism and everything that can separate us from each other, or distance us from God or his creation".
During his stay in El Salvador, Father General meditated on the martyrdom of Rutilio Grande, the Salvadoran Jesuit who was assassinated by the military junta on March 12, 1977, because of his commitment to social justice. Fr. Rutilio was a "close friend of Bishop Oscar Romero and the clergy of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. His violent death, ordered by the arrogance of the powerful in alliance with the country's government, led Bishop Romero to transform the direction of his pastoral mission in the Archdiocese of San Salvador, taking on the defence of the poor himself. It is precisely this diocese that promotes the process of beatification of Father Rutilio, a cause that holds the Holy Father's interest.
In the homily of the Eucharistic celebration he presided at in the church of the village of El Paisnal where the remains of Father Grande are buried, Father General invited the assembly "to ask God that the example of the Christian commitment lived by Rutilio Grande and his companions, martyrs of the faith who promote social justice, inspire and renew us".