Jesuit general winds up maiden India visit

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By A Elango

New Delhi: Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, on February 28 concluded his maiden visit to India.

During his 11-day stay in India, the general, popularly known as the Black Pope, addressed heads of 19 Jesuit provinces and two regions in South Asia.

The meeting was held at Jabalpur, a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Fr Sosa commended his South Asian confreres for their “honest search for better ways” to make the Jesuit mission more effective in the region. “I am aware of the many difficulties all of you are facing and the variety of contexts in which you are working,” he added.

He reminded the provincials that they are responsible not just for their provinces but also for the universal mission of the order. “We are first of all called to move from a province vision to a universal vision. A universal vision means a tension between the local and the global. The universal vision is impossible without local roots,” he explained.

The general also met all provincials in person as part of “Manifestation of Conscience,” where a Jesuit reveals intimate and personal matters to their superior who could guide the person more efficaciously.

The Jesuit general had arrived in India on February 18. Father Sosa is the first Latin American to head the world’s largest Catholic congregation for men.

Father Sosa and his counselors met Jesuits working in the Madhya Pradesh province that covers also Chhattisgarh state at Jabalpur, Ambikapur and Raipur.

Jesuit Father Ranjit Tigga, a research scholar and a member of that province, described the general’s visit as “a source of strength and encouragement.”

The general challenged his men in central India to be courageous in taking up new works to respond to changing situations in the region.

Fr Sosa also visited Indian Social Institute in New Delhi before leaving for Rome.

Social Institute director Father Denzil Fernandes explained its origin and current activities.

Its superior Father Joy Karayampuram said the general showed keen interest in knowing about the three pillars of Indian State, namely; the legislature, judiciary and executive as explained in the Constitution.

ISI showed the Jesuit chief the original copy of the Indian Constitution kept in its library. The general seemed impressed with the Constitution’s preamble that stresses equality of all citizens.

Fr Lisbert D’Souza, one of the regional assistants, said the general was “very happy” about the ISI visit.

Three staff members, who have served the institute for more than 20 years, provided a guided tour to the general. The general honored them with a shawl and a citation.