“Apostolic Priority of Social Communication,” Pedro Arrupe (1973)

In April 1973, the Secretariats of the International Union of Superiors General, the Union of Superiors General, and Multi-Media International organized the Mass Media Information Day for superiors general and assistants of religious orders. Pedro Arrupe then served both as the superior general of the Society of Jesus and the president of the Union of Superiors General. He delivered the following remarks to begin event on mass media.

For more sources from Arrupe, please visit The Arrupe Collection.



Just a few words to welcome you here. I do not think it is necessary to stress the importance of the means of social communications in today’s world. Your presence here shows clearly your interest in this increasingly important sector of the Church’s apostolate.


What is more important is to follow through from these premises, moving from an abstract knowledge of the extreme importance of these media of communication to the necessary measures to develop them as much as possible.


Let me emphasize very briefly two criteria which seem to me fundamental in this matter.


1. Apostolic priority

The first criterion refers to the need of apostolic priorities. If we want to develop the apostolate of the mass media—in which, up to now, we have used very inadequate means—with our limited personnel and financial resources, we will have to sacrifice other activities which traditionally we have developed, but which today have lost their value, or at least are less important in the scale of apostolic priorities of our institutions. This sacrifice of activities which for many years have been preferred, especially when the extinguishing or slow death of them is necessary, will provoke a painful crisis. But we have to be steadfast, and sometimes logic is cold and pitiless.


We cannot do everything; so we should ask ourselves in all sincerity: Are we ready to sacrifice other forms of apostolate. Are we ready to do so in spite of the protests and frustrations of the people who have worked at such great sacrifice and so meritoriously in those activities, because we are convinced that today they are less important than the means of social communication? There is no doubt that to do so we shall need plenty of courage and energy, Otherwise our decisions will remain mere words, which the wind will blow away.


2. Mutual cooperation necessary

The second criterion refers to indispensable mutual collaboration. We have to realize our weakness: we all know that each institution separately cannot face an apostolate which needs financial aid and trained personnel. Nobody is capable of creating alone a program adequate for the situation or to exert a strong influence in this field and on public opinion. This realistic and humble admission of our helplessness must lead us to opening a way towards collaboration and the unification of our efforts in order to offer the Church a service so necessary today. An individualistic and exclusive isolation would be not only anachronistic and anti-strategic, but also suicidal for the fact is that nobody can survive in this activity so necessary today, without the collaboration of others.


It is a fact that recently there have been more opportunities and a great desire for collaboration. But this progress is more evident in attitudes than in practical terms. Obviously the beginning will be something very modest, a small seed, like a pilot project, that will be able to grow rapidly, to dimensions beyond our present expectations. God willing, in the spirit of the alleluia of this Easter liturgy, by the end of this meeting, when we look at the positive results that will be reached, you will say from the depths of your heart, with a feeling of joy “The assembly is fruitfully concluded; let us go in peace; alleluia, alleluia!”




Original Source:

Other Apostolates Today: Selected Letters and Addresses—III, ed. Jerome Aixala. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1981, “Social Communication: Investigation and Collaboration,” pg. 132–133.

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