- Pedro Arrupe
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (
November 14, 1907– February 5, 1991) (full name, Pedro de Arrupe y Gondra) was the twenty-eighth Superior General(1965-83) of the Society of Jesus. He was born in Bilbao, Biscay, Spain.
Education and Training
Pedro Arrupe attended school at the Santiago Apostol College in Bilbao. Later he would move to Madrid to attend the Medical School of the Universidad Complutense. There he met
Severo Ochoa, who would win the Nobel Prize for Medicine. One of his teachers was Juan Negrin, a pioneer in physiology, who would become Prime Minister of the Spanish Republicduring the Civil war.
Japan - Hiroshima
Fr. Arrupe was working as a missionary in Japan when war broke out with the United States and the Allies. While the
Attack on Pearl Harboroccurred on December 7th in Hawaii, in Japan it was already December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Arrupe was saying mass when he was arrested and imprisoned for a time. His attitude of profound prayer (he would later describe it as one of his most transforming spiritual periods), his lack of offensive behaviour gained him the respect of his jailors and judges, and was set free in a month. He was appointed Jesuit superior and the master of novices in Japan in 1942. He was living in suburban Hiroshimawhen the atomic bombfell in August 1945. As a trained doctor he headed the first rescue party to arrive in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. He described that event as "a permanent experience outside of history, engraved on my memory." He utilized his medical skills in the service of the wounded and the dying, transforming the novitiate into a make-shift hospital for over 200 grievously scarred human remnants. He eventually was appointed the first Jesuit provincial for Japan (1958-65).
At the thirty-first
General Congregation(GC XXXI) of the Society of Jesus in 1965, he was elected the order's twenty-eighth Father General. He served in that position from 1965 to 1983. Father Vinnie O'Keefe, who was a great friend of Arrupe's as well as one of his top advisers, says Arrupe was "a second Ignatius, a refounder of the Society in the light of Vatican II." The defining moment of Fr. Arrupe's leadership of the Jesuits was probably the thirty-second General Congregation(GC XXXII), which he called in 1975.
Arrupe's dream was crystallized in the document (decree 4), "Our Mission Today: the Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice." Of GC XXXII. This decree basically defined all the Jesuits work as having an essential focus on the promotion of
Justiceas well as the CatholicFaith. The mix of religionand politicshas always been controversial, so for the Jesuits to tie their work so explicitly to the promotion of Justice was a very bold statement. This decree was so hotly debated that it was not voted on, until the very last day of the congregation, March 7 1975. when it was accepted by an overwhelming majority of delegates. This focus on justice was to cause great conflict within the order, the church and also have remarkable consequences on the outside world. To understand this we must look at the context of the Reforms of Vatican II and how they were applied to South and Central America.
After the great changes following
Vatican IIeach bishops conferencereturned back to their own churches and implemented the decrees in their own particular context. The Church in Europewas threatened by a growing secularism and a scientific and materialistic atheism. The Church in Asiawas conscious of its responsibilities to inter-religious dialogue and the tensions produced by the plurality of religions in their societies. The Church in South Americawas predominantly faced with the poverty that many considered to be caused by the perceived injustice of tiny minorities of the population owning and controlling vast amounts of the countries wealth and resources. Controversially the theologiansin South America became more and more politically involved, often adopting Marxistpositions. Many Jesuits in South and Central America, aware that the Church had in the past appeared to accept and even to defend this inequality, were at the forefront of this movement. The theology that grew out of their work was called Liberation Theology.
In its most extreme manifestations, liberation theology seemed to some theologians to subordinate the Gospel to political revolution, making the former only a means to achieve the latter. The perception that there was a fundamental confusion between hope for equality in the present world and hope for the coming of the Kingdom led to the condemnation of Liberation Theology by Joseph Ratzinger in the 1980s in his capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; this correction was restated in his 2008 encyclical Spe Salvi.
Despite these serious difficulties, the Jesuits' work in South America was marked with great success as well. Arrupe had special relationship with these Jesuits, who were involved in Latin American proposals that eventually produced his beloved decree four from GC 32. On
June 20 1977the White Warriors Union death squad threatened to kill each of the 47 Jesuits in El Salvador unless they abandoned their work with the poor, and left the country within a month. After consulting with his men, Fr. Arrupe replied, "They may end up as martyrs, but my priests are not going to leave ( El Salvador), because they are with the people." Six Jesuits were subsequently murdered on November 16 1989at the Jesuit University of Central Americaas well as other Jesuits such as Rutilio Grande, and later also the Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Later Life, Illness and Stroke
August 7 1981, after a long and tiring trip throughout the Far East, Father Arrupe suffered a stroke just after his airplane had landed at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. He was paralyzed on his right side and was able to speak only a few words, but this ability gradually deteriorated until he was completely mute. From that time on he lived in the infirmary at the Curia. His only form of communication with the Jesuit brother who was his constant companion, was with his eyes or hand pressure. Arrupe was forced to resign due to his refusal to reign in Jesuits holding political office in Nicaragua in 1983. He was the first Jesuit superior general to resign instead of remaining in office until his death.
The thirty third
General Congregationwas called to deal with the resignation of Arrupe and the election of a successor. The Congregation was called by Father- later Cardinal- Paolo Dezza, the Pontifical Delegate, especially appointed by the Pope to assure that the Society be kept on course. There was a wave of resentment from some Jesuits at what was seemingly Papal interference in Jesuit affairs. Arrupe's resignation was accepted on September 3 1983during the Congregation and it proceeded to elect Father Peter Hans Kolvenbachas General.
During the opening Session of the Congregation Fr Arrupe was wheeled into the hall, and a prayer which he had written was read out. :"More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God's hands." During his ten long and silent years in the infirmary, praying for the Society, Arrupe received many and frequent well wishers among whom the Pope was the most distinguished.
Arrupe died at the Curia on
February 5 1991in his 84th year. His Generalate actually lasted for 18 years from his election until his resignation in 1983, though he lived another eight years of complete inactivity paralyzed and with little communication.
Pedro Arrupe's funeral was held in the
Church of the Gesuand was attended by crowds inside and in the piazza outside the church. Also in attendance were 10 cardinals, 20 bishops, the Prime Minister of Italyand other religious and civil dignitaries. His body, first interred in the Jesuit Mausoleum at Campo Verano, was brought back into the Church of the Gesu where it lies in a side chapel.
Several halls, Jesuit communities and other 'memorials' have been named after him. Among them: a new state-of-the-art building in the Jesuit highschool Fairfield, Connecticut. The building was opened on
September 1 2005. The main auditorium at the ITESO, a Jesuit university in Guadalajara, is also named after Pedro Arrupe. Arrupe Jesuit High Schoolin Denver, CO is also named after Pedro Arrupe, as well as several scholarships given in his honor. Boston College High School, the Jesuit high school of Boston, named their new middle school in 2007 the "Arrupe Division" in honor of Pedro Arrupe. The Jesuit Formation College is Zimbabwe is also known as Arrupe College
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