Ratio Fundamentalis…(2017) puts the emphasis in the Seminary Formation on Integral Formation which envelops specially of four dimensions: spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral. Although at JDV we put emphasis on academics we consciously integrate it with other dimensions, so as not to “overemphasize academics” which would leave seminarians lesser formed emotionally and personally. Our focus is on forming priests and religious who are ready to effectively serve the people with well behavior. When the vacuum within the head, heart and hand (behavior) is not addressed and filled up, space opens for disordered living that has made headlines in our hierarchical Church in recent months. Examination of our individual and collective ways of life especially during this Lent 2019 is paramount importance for better formation and mission.
On January 26, 2019, Pope Francis met 30 Jesuits including the novices at the Nunciature in Panama. At that time, highlighting the importance of transparency, he said to the novices: “look, if you don’t get used to being transparent now, it’d be best you leave, because things will go badly. Falling short of transparency, even for something small, is something that can happen in every process of growth. But be careful, for if you do not recover quickly, there will come a time when the Society won’t know what to do with that person, because the bond of fraternity is broken, our being companions in the Lord. At that point the person will go on by deceit, by excuses, by sickness. Anything that will let him do what he wants.”
In the recently held sex abuse summit called by Pope Francis, in Rome, on Feb. 23, 2019 the practice of transparency was emphasized for dealing with the crisis in the Catholic Church. The lack of transparency in procedures for the prosecution of offences and in finances led to scandals in recent times. This requires both orderly administrative structures that work and motivation of the people to do the right thing. Sr. Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian nun asked in the above sex abuse summit, “Is it possible for us to move from fear of scandal to truth?” and said, “our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church,” and she urged to maintain “Zero tolerance” not only of sexual abuse but of similar issues that include the “misuse of power, money, clericalism, gender discrimination, the role of women and the laity in general.” In the light of Pope Francis who sees clericalism at the heart of the abuse crisis we must be careful in the way we treat or teach our seminarians as though they are more special than everyone else, thus encouraging to assume, from the beginning of their training, exalted ideas about their status.
In 2016 the 36 th General Congregation (GC 36) of the Jesuits asked Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ the General of the Society to review the 2003 preferences of the then Fr General Peter-Hans Kolvenback SJ (China, Africa, the intellectual apostolate, the Roman Houses, and migrants and refugees). During an Ash Wednesday Service on March 06, 2019 at JDV and in his subsequent talks here Fr. General promoted the four new Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Society of Jesus for the next ten years 2019-2029 which were announced with a confirmation from Pope Francis in February after a two-year discernment. The preferences are: promoting Discernment and the “Spiritual Exercises,” walking with the excluded, caring for our common home and journeying with Youth. This mission proper emerged from the context of our world today: abuse of power, poverty and inequality, large scale displacement of people, the ecological crisis, fundamentalism and virtual reality. Approached from different angles this mission remains essentially the same which we identified before as that of reconciliation and justice in its three dimensions: reconciliation with God, with humanity and with creation. This mission beckons all of us to be partners with God in creating a world of justice, love and peace.
Prof. Dr. Selva Rathinam, S., SJ