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James Martin, S.J.July 12, 2018

Yesterday, the superior general of the Society of Jesus announced that the Vatican had given the green light for the Jesuits to begin the process that would, we hope, lead to the canonization of Servant of God Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Superior General Arturo Sosa, S.J., said, “We are still at the beginning of the process, but Angelo de Donatis, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, has given the Diocese of Rome approval to open the process of beatification.”

Father Arrupe was the beloved superior general of the Jesuit order from 1965 to 1983, a period of volcanic change in the Catholic Church. Toward the end of his life, after a debilitating stroke, he suffered from grievous misunderstandings at the hands of the institutional church but bore these sufferings in quiet obedience.

More than any other Jesuit, Arrupe encouraged the promotion of the “faith that does justice.”

Before his incapacitation, he encouraged his brother Jesuits and all our colleagues in ministry to heed the call of the Second Vatican Council to return to our roots and to follow the “preferential option for the poor.” More than any other Jesuit, he encouraged the promotion of the “faith that does justice.” One of his most famous initiatives was the founding of the Jesuit Refugee Service in 1980.

The process of canonization is a long one—as it should be. The church takes pains to ensure that the person who is being raised up for public and universal veneration is worthy of such veneration. (It is important to note that God makes saints; the church only recognizes them.) Thus, a “postulator” will be appointed for Father Arrupe’s “cause” (if he or she has not already been appointed), who will begin to collect and review his writings, interview those who knew him and gather evidence of miraculous cures attributable to his intercession.

By announcing the formal beginning of the process, the Society of Jesus is inviting you to pray to Father Arrupe for his intercession.

You ask for people on earth to pray for you, don’t you? Why not ask for the prayers of those in heaven?

What does this mean?

Not a few Catholics find it difficult to fathom this part of our tradition. But for me, it has always made sense. The saints are both our companions (who show us another way to live out the Christian life) and our patrons (who pray for us from their posts in heaven). To those who struggle with this, I often say: “You ask for people on earth to pray for you, don’t you? Why not ask for the prayers of those in heaven?”

Belief in intercession means that we will begin to ask Father Arrupe for his prayers in earnest, and we will hope that his prayers lead to all sorts of help for people in need—spiritual comfort, emotional support and physical healings. Intercession does not mean that Pedro Arrupe is responsible for those miracles but that he is asking God for help on our behalf. The granting of a miracle attributable the intercession of someone like Father Arrupe is considered by the church proof that he is in heaven.

Thus, one miracle is needed for his beatification (at which point he will be Blessed Pedro Arrupe) and another for canonization (St. Pedro Arrupe). The process could take years, if not decades. (There is another step as well: He must be declared “Venerable” by the pope. This precedes both beatification and canonization.)

Not a few Catholics find it difficult to fathom this part of our tradition.

There are all sorts of “miracles” that people may experience that will not fulfill the exacting Vatican requirements: You may feel a sudden burst of confidence, a thorny problem may be resolved, an icy relationship may thaw. But the Congregation for the Causes of Saints wants to ensure that the highest standards are met, so as to preclude any doubt about the process.

Therefore, the following conditions must be met in the case of physical healings (by far the most common miracles in canonization cases): The healing must be completely and professionally documented (that is, physician’s reports from both before and after the healing); the healing must be attributable solely to one saint’s intercession (that is, if you’re also praying to St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Faber, it is not going to “count”); the healing must be instantaneous; and the healing has to be permanent (that is, the physical condition cannot regress).

With Father Sosa’s announcement, the Society invites you to pray to Father Arrupe, and if any favors are received, to document them and send them to us—your nearest Jesuit province will do.

Since his death in 1991, I have prayed to Pedro Arrupe for many things. (As someone who entered the Jesuits in 1988, he was an important figure in my novitiate and throughout my formation.) Father Arrupe understood physical limitations because of his terrible stroke. He understood what it meant to suffer silently through misunderstandings. He understood what it meant to work in an imperfect church.

Father Arrupe also understood the value of a sense of humor. My favorite story came when some eager young American Jesuits were passing through Rome on their way to India. Father Arrupe asked Vincent O’Keefe, S.J., what they were doing. “Going to India to learn about the poor,” Father O’Keefe replied.

Father Arrupe quipped in reply, “It certainly costs a lot of money to teach our men about poverty.”

So ask Father Arrupe for help. And please let us know what happens.

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Henry George
5 years 10 months ago

I wonder, Fr. Martin, S.J.
if you should say that we should pray to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.,
or pray for any Saint to pray for us,
rather we should ask the Saints and future Saints,
to pray for us.

If you want a miracle, I would suggest that if a someone who
would like to be re-admitted to the Society of Jesus, after being
dismissed, contra Canon Law
and the policies of his own Province and the
Society of Jesus,
being re-admitted,
might well count.

He still lives out the perpetual vows of
Poverty, Chastity and Obedience
of the Society of Jesus,
and instead of flying all the way to India to help the Poor,
he works with the:
homeless, the mentally ill, the immigrant and those in prison,
here in America.

I shall ask Fr. Arrupe, S.J., to pray that the Society of Jesus
acknowledges its error in how it dealt with this member
and other members of the Society of Jesus,
and re-admit a man
who still lives out his vows,
even after being unjustly dismissed by his Formators,
while so many others,
even though highly praised by their Formators,
walked away from their vows.

After all Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.,
told him to his face that he was
an excellent member of the Society of Jesus.
Sadly after Fr. Arrupe, S.J. died,
he had no protector in the Society of Jesus
to intercede on his behalf.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.,
Please pray for all those who have Vocations
to the Society of Jesus
but have been turned away by
those Formators who seek the ways of humans
and not the ways of Jesus.

Christopher Lochner
5 years 10 months ago

Isn't this like stuffing the ballot box? ..Just sayin'.

JR Cosgrove
5 years 10 months ago

The preferential option for the poor

The poor are disappearing from the face of the earth. Maybe not in our lifetime but probsbly in our children's. Read Hans Rosling's Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Jay Zamberlin
5 years 10 months ago

No thanks, anyone responsible for the corruption of Georgetown, Santa Clara and on down the line, NO THANKS...

Bruce Snowden
5 years 10 months ago

I think I (the Church) should pray to (with) Fr. Arrupe because of his close relationship to God, begun here on earth and now continuing in the Homeland, where rubbing shoulders with all the Saints and Angels is the thing all the Blessed do. I don't see Fr. Arrupe more important than the other Saints, simply another victory for Jesus as are all the Saints, but as it should be, very meaningful to Jesuits, great teachers, and even greater because of their humility and non-judgemental attitudes towards all humanity. With Jesus Fr. Arrupe as a Jesuit (I love Jesuits) reflected Jesus' teaching, "Come to Me all you who labor and are burened and I will refresh you!" Holy Servant of God, Fr. Arrupe pray for us, that like you we too may be made worthy of the embrace of Christ!

Sandi Sinor
5 years 10 months ago

To those who struggle with this, I often say: “You ask for people on earth to pray for you, don’t you? Why not ask for the prayers of those in heaven?”

As I wrote in a comment on the post where you asked if we readers pray to the saints, I do not. To repeat the first sentence: I do not believe in intercessory prayer. I do not ask either living people or dead people to pray for a personal intention.

I pray directly to God.

The church's canonization process should be revised to eliminate the requirement for "miracles". It should simply hold up the lives of certain people as models for the rest of us to try to emulate as best we can. As inspiration. It would also be wonderful to recognize that many of these people are not Roman Catholics.

I admired Fr. Arrupe, and if the church wishes to hold him up as an example of someone who did his best to live a life centered on Christ, I would be very pleased.

However, I cannot join the campaign to "pray to" Fr. Arupe for a "miraculous" intervention with God. God knows all, including all the needs and wants of ALL human beings on this earth. I trust God, without asking for the intervention of human beings, living or no longer living.

Henry George
5 years 10 months ago


We are all in this together, everyone on earth, the great Cloud of Witnesses, and the Trinity.
You can certainly ask someone to pray for you, be that person alive or not.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 years 10 months ago

Pedro Arrupe - the man who inspired countless others to serve the oppressed, the downtrodden, the outcasts, the poor, the homeless,
and the victims of injustice and violence.

Laurence Ringo
5 years 10 months ago

Sigh....You know what? If any knowledgeable Roman Catholic could present to me a logical, practical, and ultimately BIBLICAL reason why I should offer prayers to anyone other than Almighty God through Christ Jesus my Lord, I would do it.You Catholics continually fail "the smell test" on this; I've had countless prayers answered by Almighty God, and I would NEVER consider praying to a dead person; it's ludicrous!! Of course I ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for me, that's a given. But unless you can offer solid Biblical proof that Our Savior directed us to offer prayers to or for anyone who has already left this earth, as far as I'm concerned, it's a pious invention that serves no discenable purpose. PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!

Phillip Stone
5 years 10 months ago

You were a bit over-inclusive Laurence! Offer prayers ".. to or for ... " you say and I think of Lazarus.
As for asking for blessings, the Acts of the Apostles teaches us that blessings and healings are able to be mediated by followers of Christ.
And, by the way, all that you have in your hands which you call scripture was given you by the believers who wrote it and who discerned it as revealed truth and described it as leaving out more than was put in - John 21:25.

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