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Father Arrupe’s Return

“The ship of the Society has been tossed around by the waves, and there is nothing surprising in this,” said Pope Francis during a Vespers service in Rome on Sept. 27 that marked the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus in 1814, after its suppression by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The pope urged his brother Jesuits: “Row then! Row, be strong, even against a headwind! We row in the service of the church. We row together!”

Afterward, the pope visited a side chapel to bless a new painting of the “Deposition of Christ,” showing three men removing Christ’s body from the cross. The faces of the men are those of three Jesuits now buried in the chapel, who guided the Society in times of persecution, struggle or misunderstanding. At the top is St. Joseph Pignatelli, S.J. (1737-1811), the Spanish Jesuit who served as a guiding light during the four decades of the suppression. Beneath him is Jan Roothaan, S.J. (1785-1853), superior general during a period when Jesuits were still banished from many countries. Perhaps most notable is the man at Jesus’ feet: Servant of God Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1907-91), the superior general who, after suffering a stroke in 1981, appointed a vicar general who was subsequently removed by St. John Paul II and replaced by a Vatican appointee. In response to that decision, Father Arrupe called for obedience from Jesuits worldwide—and received it.

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Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis paid a public visit to this small chapel, touched the marble covering of Father Arrupe’s tomb and blessed himself. For many years Pedro Arrupe’s legacy was the object of suspicion within some Vatican circles. Today, however, it is gratifying to see one faithful Jesuit honored by another.

An Unwelcome Sign

They are a familiar sight to drivers everywhere: the posters that dot city streets and country roads providing information on church services. They have long been part of the landscape in many communities, as unremarkable as mailboxes on the sidewalk. But in Gilbert, Ariz., church signs like these are stirring up a hornet’s nest of political, religious and free speech issues that will head to the Supreme Court next year.

The case involves the Good News Community Church, a small Presbyterian congregation that does not have a permanent location and must rely on temporary signs to inform congregants about the sites and times of services. The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty have filed briefs on behalf of Pastor Clyde Reed and his church, protesting what they consider the town’s arbitrary limits on the size and number of church signs.

According to the town code, temporary directional signs must be 70 percent smaller than “ideological” signs and 81 percent smaller than “political” signs. While nonreligious signs may remain up indefinitely, Good News’s 2-by-3 foot signs may stay up for only 14 hours. Town officials cite traffic safety concerns and aesthetics to justify the strictures on church signs. A 32-square-foot political sign left standing for months, however, would apparently be acceptable.

On Sept. 15, A.D.F. attorneys filed their opening briefs with the Supreme Court. “No law should treat the speech of churches worse than the speech of other similar speakers,” said the senior counsel David Cortman. If this case is a sign of the times, it’s a worrying one.

Let Democracy Bloom

Rhetoric on both sides of the confrontation in Hong Kong has ratcheted up dangerously since the Occupy Central students’ campaign for democracy began on Sept. 28. Now student leaders are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, and on the mainland editorials in party-controlled media have begun to complain ominously that the student demonstration has become a threat to the city’s economy and good public order. The real fear in Beijing is, of course, the impact any democratic liberalization in Hong Kong might have on the mainland, where millions likewise yearn to match China’s vibrant economic development with new political and personal freedoms.

A makeshift Goddess of Democracy statue, a symbol of the long-ago occupation of Tiananmen Square, was raised again by these students, who are just as full of hope and determination as were the young people of 1989. May that be the last comparison to Tiananmen that this most recent campaign for democracy evokes.

If President Xi Jinping is looking for a face-saving way out of the current crisis, he need only review the terms of the Basic Law that led to the July 1997 handover of Hong Kong. Recognizing that the demonstrators in Hong Kong are calling for representation, not revolution, Mr. Xi should embrace their demands and the spirit of the “two systems, one nation” commitment his predecessors made. Article 45 of the Basic Law explicitly supports the universal suffrage that this current generation of young people is demanding on the streets of Wan Chai. He may want to let this one flower of democracy bloom in Hong Kong to learn what fruit it may one day bear for all of China.

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Bob Baker
3 years ago
"For many years Pedro Arrupe’s legacy was the object of suspicion within some Vatican circles." Let's see....in 1965, Arrupe was elected "and in the heady expectation of change sparked by the Council (Vatican II) itself, the new outlook - antipapal and sociopolitical in nature - that had been flourishing in a covert fashion for over a century was espoused by the Society as a corporate body."(Malachi Martin's The Jesuits) As for Hong Kong, it's somehow also ironic that you only mention person freedoms and not specifically religious freedom. Then again, the Jesuits and the Maryknollers have been great buddies with the Patriotic Church while the laity who have remained loyal to Rome are ignored.
William Atkinson
3 years ago
It's a real phenomenon how time changes and recognizes the real Christ like Saints, (holy men and women) of the times, many many real idealistic thinkers, abandoned by their peers, come back to be the real folks who walk in the sandals of the Jesus who walked the sands and pebble stones of northern Egypt (occupied by Romans) lands of Palestine. Those like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Arrupe, and many others of the 20th century, we all call the movers and shakers, folks who travel the world and saw mankind for the humanity it is; also defining the universe, its past, its present, and especially its progressive future living out the animal, human and divine nature that so makes up the completeness of mankind..
Frank Bergen
3 years ago
I would hope that anyone interested in the history of the Society of Jesus in the second half of the 20th century would look past Malachi Martin for an unbiased evaluation. Without having recourse to learned tomes, one should have been able to glean a sense of the Society's fidelity to the church, even to acceding to papal intervention in its interior governance, just from regular weekly reading of America. Some of us who have left the order continue to love it; others, e.g. Dr. Martin, not so much. I for one give thanks to God for the life and ministry and enduring patience in suffering of Don Pedro Arrupe.
Carolyn Disco
3 years ago
@Bob Baker - Your quoting Malachi Martin as someone worthy to be quoted begs for a response. Please consider this reflection of Martin's credibility in action at Vatican II, as witnessed and recorded by Msgr. Wilfrid H. Paradis, a peritus at all four sessions - and whose memoirs I am currently editing: "Rev. Malachi Martin, S.J. Among the first to appear at our hotel was a well-known Jesuit by the name of Malachi Martin. He arrived with a harried look as if he were being pursued by numerous unknown enemies. It seemed as if he had been forced to come in the dark hugging the walls of the streets of Rome, although he was in broad daylight a bit after two in the afternoon. Five or six us were at the hotel at the time and were able to speak with him. In near-conspiratorial terms he told us that he had come in the name of Cardinal Augustine Bea, the well-known and highly respected head of the Vatican Office of Christian Unity. His purpose, he added, was to alert as many as he could, in the name of Cardinal Bea, to the present conspiracy in Rome to further malign the Jewish people to damage their standing at the Vatican Council. To substantiate this claim, he produced a number of copies of a thick book entitled "Complotto Contro La Chiesa," a reprint of that vicious and false attack on the Jewish people using a considerable number of historical lies about them. He gave each one of us a copy that I have retained to this day in the archives of my diocese. During the several times that Father Malachi was with us, despite his academic credentials, I felt considerable uneasiness, mainly because of his conspiratorial posture that made each one of us present nearly looking over our shoulders for the spies in the shadows. At the time, Malachi, the holder of three doctorates, was teaching Semitic languages at the prestigious Gregorian University and claimed to be a close associate of the famed Cardinal Bea. In addition, almost soto voce, he shared with us that Pope John XXIII now greatly worried that his appeal for Christian Unity, one of the major goals of the Council, would result in such a massive (if not universal) conversion of non-Catholic Christians that he, the Pope, would not know how to cope with the phenomenon. This was presented as the major concern of John XXIII with regard to ecumenism! On hearing this, Father Malachi lost a considerable amount of credibility among all of us Americans who lived amicably among Protestant peoples and who well-knew that religious differences would not disappear with the wave of a pontifical crosier. While Malachi Martin visited with us a few more times, I could not, since the moment I met him, abide by his mysterious, conspiratorial and even apocalyptic frame of mind. It is not surprising then that Father Malachi was an exorcist in the Catholic Church for some thirty years, thus a man familiar with the occult and bizarre. Many who know about him and the sixteen books that he wrote under his own name (not counting those produced under pseudonyms) also very likely noted the often strange tone and analyses of this clergyman in matters dealing with religion and society. Although never laicized, he apparently amicably left the Jesuits for a secular life of writing in the United States. Malachi’s reputation has also been tarnished by the accusation that in 1964, still during the Second Vatican Council, he had an ‘affair’ with the wife of the much respected Time Magazine reporter at the Council, Robert Blair Kaiser. In his book "Clerical Error: A True Story," Kaiser writes of this deception that ruined his marriage... As for Father Malachi, he had also been accused in the 1950s of another extra-marital affair, that time in Beirut, Lebanon. Malachi, the Semitic linguist, was known as a well-traveled person, for many reasons. Even an Ecumenical Council cannot be held without the human element being present at every level of those involved, either directly or remotely. Neither Malachi Martin nor Robert Kaiser was an official participant in the Council: one reported the news; the other, much of it, it seemed to me, the fantasies of his own mind."
Carolyn Disco
3 years ago
@Frank Bergen Courtesy of Fr. Jim Martin's blog, I came across this prayer by Fr. Arrupe, and keep a copy in my bible for reading often: Evening prayer: Falling in Love Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. --Servant of God Pedro Arrupe, SJ, (1907-1991)
Bob Baker
3 years ago
One might not like Malachi Martin, but I have read nothing in direct rebuttal to what little I quoted (and I didn’t even mention the Jesuit Sandinistas and St. John Paul II) and, of course, there is a great deal more. If only half of what his book says is even partially true ….

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