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December 4, 2016 — In a world of conflict, deeply in need
of the mercy frequently implored by Pope Francis, Jesuits can be agents of
reconciliation and dialogue, the Society’s new Superior General Father Arturo
Sosa, SJ, said in an exclusive
interview with America magazine

Fr. Sosa, elected superior
of the Society of Jesus on Oct. 14, told America’s editor-in-chief
Father Matt Malone, SJ, that he believes far-flung Jesuits can be models of the
benefits of discernment, adaptability and “the very rich experience of … multiculturality”
for the church and the world, especially in those regions of conflict where
Jesuits are present. He spoke with Fr. Malone in Rome on Nov. 28.

Fr. Sosa, born in Caracas, Venezuela, is the first Jesuit
from Latin America to be elected superior general. His election comes as the
church is experiencing its first Latin American pope. He suggested this
historic moment represents an invitation “to see the Latin American church” and
the progress it has made since Vatican II.

“Jorge Mario Bergoglio — Pope Francis — and myself, we’re
sons of a church and a living church. The Latin American church has made a very
nice process after Vatican II. We were formed in that process—the pope and
myself — in different points in Latin America.”

That mutual historical experience, he said, “takes very
seriously the faith of the people … takes very seriously the community life as
the base of the church life, takes very seriously the respect for the other and
very seriously tries to make the social justice a practical commitment of the
church, of the Society.”

Fr. Sosa said that Pope Francis understands very well the
role of religious life in the church. “So for the Society it’s really an
opportunity to be used. The pope knows very well how he can use the Jesuits and
the Society of Jesus in service of the church.”

On Nov. 26, just a few days before Fr. Malone spoke with
Fr. Sosa, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, a former superior general, passed away in
. Fr. Sosa said Fr. Kolvenbach “opened the Society to dialogue with all the cultures, especially the inter-religious
dialogue … he was very aware of the importance [other traditions] — different
from the Latin tradition — in the church."

“During his 25 years as general, the Society became a
real multicultural body of the church,” Fr. Sosa added.

Fr. Sosa told Fr. Malone that after the shock of being
elected superior general he quickly came to feel at peace with the decision of
his brother Jesuits, partly because of his confidence in the system of
discernment applied by Jesuits to the election.

“It’s a time of praying, of discernment, of dialogue
among the electors,” he said of the election process, which he described as a
deeply spiritual experience, of “being in the hands of God.”

“If we take seriously that the Spirit talks in the
election … that gives me peace,” he said. “It was not my desire; it was not my
plan; I didn’t want to do that. So it’s really like a call from the Spirit
through my brothers, the Society. So I suppose the same Spirit that made that
movement and the brothers who put me here will help to move on in the Society’s

He likened this experience of acceptance to the Ignatian
sense of spiritual consolation. “It’s not a superficial happiness. It’s a
feeling that you are really in the hands of God and you want to do his will.”
[Source: America

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