A Topic at the 35th General Congregation

Jesuit Identity

G.C. 32, Decree 2, 11

G.C. 34, Decree 2,6,7,11,26

Fr. General’s Talk to the Major Superiors at Loyola 2000

Fr. General’s Talk at the Meeting of Procurators 2003

Fr. General’s Letter on the Account of Conscience (2005/02)

A number of requests came from around the world suggesting that this was the time for the Society to reflect upon its identity. The context that shapes this reflection comes from the changing set of circumstances the Society finds itself in.

In many places, the number of Jesuits in various ministries is declining and will continue to decline for some time. At the same time, many of these ministries are thriving as Jesuit sponsored ministries with ongoing efforts to form lay partners in these ministries who already contribute to them with their many gifts.

So much of the life of the Church works within the structures of diocesan and parish life. At times, the role and value of religious life in the Church needs to be better understood in order to be even more effective. The role of the Jesuit brother is not often well understood and can be addressed.

As the Society of Jesus becomes more multi-cultural and diverse, a discussion and clarification of what binds the members together in a renewed union of minds and hearts would be important today for the Society's mission. The importance of Jesuit community life must be strengthened in light of this renewed self-understanding.

With a focus on cooperation in ministry, in partnership, and as the Society increases its vocation promotion, this is an opportune time to reflect upon and affirm what is distinctive about the Jesuit vocation.

This clarified focus of the Society's identity and mission will be a great assistance to lay, priestly and religious colleagues who both support their Jesuit partners and are often sustained by sharing in a common spiritual font, in the Spiritual Exercises.

What is the special contribution of the Society to the Church and the world today? How should the Society emphasize, in the contemporary context, its identity and mission of serving a faith that does justice? How does the Society understand its call to inter religious and cultural dialogue? How will this renewed identity help the Society refocus its formation to prepare for the life of a contemplative in action, living the life of the vows, in community today? What is the most authentic understanding of the professed Jesuit's vow of obedience to the Holy Father?

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