Skip to main content

Fr Arrupe has left a rich legacy: Commitment to faith rooted in justice, courage to take stand against violence, compassion for refugees

Fr Arrupe with Mother Teresa
By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 24 October 2016, in his address to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Pope Francis said, “just as Fr Arrupe said, wherever there is pain, the Society is there; or better said has to be there”. In this one statement, Pope Francis not only reminded the Jesuits of the need and importance of their presence in the realities of today but also highlighted the rich legacy, which Fr. Pedro Arrupe has left to each one of us!
Fr Pedro Arrupe, a deeply spiritual person, was consistently in the midst of pain and suffering. On 6 August 1945, Arrupe was there in Hiroshima when thousands were killed, many more injured and the city was ravaged by the nuclear holocaust. He made the Jesuit residence (where he was also the novice master) into a make shift hospital administering to those who were badly hurt. For several weeks, he selflessly cared for the dying and the wounded using his expertise as a medical doctor to the hilt. He would later often recall that horrific tragedy, encouraging people across the globe, to take a stand against nuclear warfare.
Years later, he said (remembering the Mass he celebrated on 7 August 1945 in the midst of the dying and wounded), “I was unable to move and remained as if I were paralyzed with my arms stretched out as I contemplated that human tragedy: human knowledge, technical advance used for the destruction of the human race. All looked at me with eyes filled with anxiety, with desperation, as though expecting that some consolation would come to them from the altar. It was a frightful scene!”
More than seventy years after that nuclear holocaust, Pope Francis, resonated with the stand of Fr Arrupe when in an address in the Vatican on 10 November 2017, to the participants of the International Symposium on ‘Prospects for a world free of nuclear weapons and for integral disarmament’ he said:
“International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”
As the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Arrupe presided over the 32nd General Congregation of the Jesuits, which mandated the Jesuits to take an unequivocal stand for the service of faith and the promotion of justice. This in a profound way was in keeping with Fr. Arrupe’s vision that to be true to the spirit and message of Vatican II, the Jesuits had to work for a more just, inclusive and equitable ‘kingdom of God’ here on earth, which is people-centred and where the dignity and the rights of the poor and the marginalised are respected and protected.
In the late seventies, Fr. Arrupe was “struck and shocked by the plight of thousands of boat people and refugees” in South East Asia fleeing war and persecution. In a letter addressed to the Universal Society on 14 November 1980, Arrupe wrote, “that this situation constitutes a challenge to the Society we cannot ignore if we are to remain faithful to St. Ignatius’ criteria for our apostolic work and the recent calls of the General Congregations”. He went on to add, “the help needed is not only material: in a special way the Society is being called to render a service that is human, pedagogical and spiritual. It is a difficult and complex challenge, the needs are dramatically urgent”.
In that same letter, he established the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) spelling out its primary aims and objectives. He wanted the Jesuits to “accept this letter and the request it makes in a spirit of alacrity and availability”. Besides service, accompanying the refugees and doing advocacy for them would be the core mission of the JRS. For thirty-seven years now, JRS has responding to the cries of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in almost fifty countries across the globe, providing them with the hope and the possibility of living a more dignified life.
Fr Arrupe was born on 14 November 1907. As a fitting tribute on his hundredth birth anniversary in 2007, JRS brought out an excellent little book ‘In the footsteps of Pedro Arrupe’. The book encapsulates the vision of Arrupe, which has been the source of inspiration to hundreds of Jesuits, other religious and lay collaborators to respond “in a spirit of alacrity and availability” to the cries of refugees.
Our world today is being threatened with another nuclear holocaust. In several countries, xenophobia, jingoism, hate, divisiveness, exclusiveness are on the rise. The poor and the vulnerable continue to be at the receiving end of injustices, discrimination and marginalisation. When Fr Arrupe died on 5 February 1991, he left the world a rich legacy: the commitment to a faith, which is rooted in justice; the courage to take a stand against all wars and violence, particularly nuclear warfare; and the compassion to embrace the refugees and all excluded.
As we celebrate the memory of Fr Pedro Arrupe on yet another November 14th, all of us need to do our best to walk in his footsteps; to be there, where there is pain; and above all, to be challenged by his legacy and to try to live it in substantial and meaningful ways today!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.