It’s official: Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe is now a ‘Servant of God’

On what would have been the 111th birthday of Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Nov. 14, 2018, the superior general of the Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, S.J., announced that the process toward the Spanish Jesuit’s possible beatification has begun. The cause for Father Arrupe’s sainthood will officially open at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on Feb. 5—the 28th anniversary of Pedro Arrupe’s death—barring any objections from the people of God and with the permission of Pope Francis.

Father Arrupe, who served as the superior general of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983, led the Jesuits through the end of the Second Vatican Council and its early implementation. In a letter to all Jesuits, Father Sosa praised Father Arrupe’s leadership during this period, his “creative fidelity” to the spiritual experience of St. Ignatius and “his love for and closeness to the poor.”

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“His enthusiastic, free, wise and faithful presence in the tumultuous Church of the Council on which the Spirit had shed its light, expressed the desire to integrate the best values of the tradition with those necessary for the adaptation of Christianity to the new times,” said Father Sosa.

Father Arrupe led the Jesuits through the end of the Second Vatican Council and its early implementation.

In July, Father Sosa announced that Jesuits were at the beginning of the formal process for beatification for Father Arrupe. At that time, the general postulator of the Society of Jesus, Father Pascual Cebollada, S.J., told Catholic News Service that he was gathering Father Arrupe’s writings, as well as eyewitness testimony from those who knew him.

People who knew Father Arrupe have spoken about him as open to the Holy Spirit. “Arrupe expected the individual not to wait for a decision or advice of a superior but to be himself, attentive to the spirit, capable of finding his way by himself, too,” Jean-Yves Calvez, S.J., who served as a general assistant to Father Arrupe, told America in 2007.

Now that the cause has been officially communicated to the Vatican, Father Arrupe is considered a “Servant of God.” A new website has launched to document Father Arrupe’s life for the public and make available some his writings and the collected testimonials.

Now that the cause has been officially communicated to the Vatican, Father Arrupe is considered a “Servant of God.”

More than 100 witnesses—mostly from Spain, Japan and Italy—are expected to testify, Father Sosa said. In addition, two commissions have already begun reviewing all Father Arrupe’s published works and “many unpublished documents written by or about Father Arrupe and the socio-ecclesial context in which he lived.”

Long before he was the superior general of the Jesuits, Father Arrupe was the master of novices in Hiroshima, Japan. When Hiroshima was bombed on Aug. 6, 1945, Father Arrupe used the novitiate house to take in the injured.

Father Arrupe’s “experiences in Hiroshima marked his whole life,” Cecil McGarry, S.J., who also served as general assistant for the Jesuits, told America in 2007. “That was what gave him a sense of the new world we were living in.”

“One sign of the memory, devotion and living influence of Father Arrupe among us is the number of communities, houses, apostolic works and programs that bear his name,” said Father Sosa. These include: Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, the first Jesuit community college; the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Arrupe Leaders Summit; Boston College’s Arrupe immersion trips; Marquette’s Pedro Arrupe Award for service; Arrupe Jesuit High School, a Cristo Rey school in Denver, Colo.; and many others.

Perhaps the best remembered of Father Arrupe’s speeches is his address on education, delivered to alumni of Jesuit schools in 1973, in which he coined the term “men for others.” Men and women for others “are persons who cannot conceive of love of God without love of neighbor,” Father Arrupe said. “Theirs is an efficacious love that has justice as its first requirement.”

Jesuits Refugee Service, founded 38 years ago by Father Arrupe, celebrated its anniversary in the United States and the announcement of Father Arrupe’s move toward canonization on Nov. 14 with a panel on global refugee protection at the headquarters of America Media. Michael Gallagher, S.J., the J.R.S. representative to the offices of the United Nations and other international organizations, was presented with an award for his contributions to the U.N. Global Compact on Refugees.

Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.

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Héctor Portillo
6 months 1 week ago

This is great news. I recently read Fr. Arrupe's autobiography/memoir of the Hiroshima bombing, and was thoroughly inspired by his work, faith, and solidarity.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
6 months 1 week ago

Cheers. The late Fr Pedro was a leader among leaders. “Arrupe expected the individual not to wait for a decision or advice of a superior but to be himself, attentive to the spirit, capable of finding his way by himself, too,” - Well said.

Tim Donovan
6 months 1 week ago

Although I attended Catholic schools for sixteen years (through college) I only spent one semester at a Jesuit college, St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Therefore, I can't claim to know too much about Father Arrupe's life. However, as one who supports war only in the very limited circumstances when all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted, and of course believes that all should be done to insure that civilians shouldn't be targeted, and that the use of nuclear weapons is an immoral inhumane act, I'm impressed that Father Arrupe sheltered injured Japanese people in the novitiate house when Hiroshima was bombed. I commend Father Arrupe for his affirmation that each one of us should be "men (and women) for others." Though a very imperfect Catholic , I agree that men and women for others are "persons who cannot conceive of love of God without love of neighbor" and that justice is the first requirement of love. Please let me describe a physician and his wife with whom I 'm acquainted who I believe are people "for others" who have shown their love of God through love of neighbor. This loving married Catholic couple sheltered pregnant women of different races and faiths in their home for some time years ago. The physician, Dr. George Isajiw, who years ago was president of the Catholic Physicians Guild, founded the first alternative -to-abortion agency in Delaware County, Pennsylvania ( in suburban Philadelphia. Mrs. Isajiw became pregnant as a young woman as the result of the tragic crime of rape. However, she had the courage to give birth to her baby and release him for adoption. Dr. Idaho's is now on the Board of Directors of the Mother's Home, a home in suburban Philadelphia that shelters pregnant women and their children and provides other services until a time when the new mothers feel competent to raise their new baby. Finally, this couple showed themselves to be "people for others" who care deeply for justice when some years ago they adopted an infant who was severely disabled. They did all that they could to lovingly care for their infant until he died peacefully at an early age.

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