Using the lens of social apostolate of which the Arrupe Office of Social Formation (formerly the Social Involvement Coordinating Office [SICO]) was established thirty one (31) years ago, the election of Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio to the papacy is indeed seen as one gigantic affirmative stance of which the Universal Church could draw its inspiration from―especially in promoting a lived faith that values a radical option to be in real solidarity with God’s poor.
The elevation of Pope Francis―son of Ignatius and shepherd of one of the most vibrant churches in a sub-continent, a church that thrives in the midst of dire poverty, injustice, and institutional corruption which create un-peace―is welcomed by the Arrupe Office as a singular and yet powerful symbol of hope. The Arrupe’s germinal beginning three decades ago can be traced back to the birth of social action being slowly mainstreamed into the Jesuit’s education apostolate. It is, therefore, mandated to promote social formation in the university that significantly finds expression in the formation of a well-formed social conscience (individually and collectively) among the various stakeholders. Indeed, it finds no loftier and more edifying an inspiration than the election of a Jesuit pope whose pastoral ministry incarnates a deep social theology that is redolent of generous service in the classic Jesuit tradition. And from among those who find meaning in affirming their commitment toward the promotion of a vibrant social involvement, Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air. In simple terms, this Jesuit servant who lives the Franciscan spirituality of ministering to the poor―given his rich pastoral experience in his journey of faith―is a living symbol of our most cherished gospel values!
And so, in solidarity with the Universal Church, in concert with all the faithful who rejoice in the eternal Easter message of hope, life-giving charity, a radical love of the many voiceless and powerless members of society who find their true calling in becoming genuine witnesses to the faith―and guided by the spirit of truth, personal inner freedom and liberation, transformative social action, and active commitment in the work for social justice―the Arrupe Office joins the Society of Jesus (both in the social and educational apostolate) in thanking God for the gift of this new shepherd at this particular juncture in our history of faith. He who is from “the far ends of the earth,” and yet is providentially called to lead the church in these most trying of times, is seen as an instrument to effect much needed healing in the church. He who is from the bosom of St. Ignatius, and yet calls himself after one of the church’s most inspiring of saints who radically embraced poverty as an evangelical counsel, is being called upon to renew our faith in humanity so that we may truly find the face of God from among those who are joyfully seeking Him in the complex reality of the 21st century.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
By the Arrupe Office of Social Formation, Communications and Advocacy