Pope Paul VI to Father General and the General Assistants (1975)


Pope Paul VI, in addressing Pedro Arrupe and Arrupe’s general assistants near the close of the 32nd General Congregation, reminds the delegates, “Be loyal!” He encourages “all the companions of Ignatius to continue with renewed zeal to carry out all the works and endeavors upon which they have so eagerly embarked in the service of the Church.” Paul VI asks the men to “be aware of the importance of their tasks while at the same time they rely on the help and assistance of God who alone suffices just as he alone was always sufficient for Ignatius and Francis Xavier in the midst of the great needs which they experienced.”

For more from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.

 

 

Beloved Members of the Society of Jesus:

 

Almost three months ago, on the third of last December, it was a consolation for Us to receive in audience all the Fathers of the Society of Jesus who are members of the 32nd General Congregation just when they were undertaking their work. We were happy to indicate to them, the representatives before our eyes of the entire Ignatian family, our esteem for all the members “who labor for the Kingdom of God and carry on very valuable work for the apostolic and missionary endeavors of the Church.” We now have, therefore, a great occasion for rejoicing since we have yet another opportunity of once again giving evidence of our great, paternal, and sincere good will for this religious order that is so clearly joined with Us and is certainly very dear to Us.

For our part, We admit that We were impelled by the very spirit of love, by which We embrace all of you, to interpose our authority with the superiors of your Society—as you well know—in rather recent circumstances. We thought that this action had to be taken because of our consciousness that We are the supreme protector and guardian of the Formula of the Institute, as well as the Shepherd of the Universal Church. Actually, at that time We were not a little pleased by the fact that the members of the General Congregation favorably understood the force and meaning of our recommendations and showed that they received them with a willingness to carry them out. Now We wish once again to cite the words of the Apostle Paul: “I wrote [what] I did … [confident that] you all know that I could never be happy, unless you were. When I wrote to you, in deep distress and anguish of mind, and in tears, it was not to make you feel hurt but to let you know how much love I have for you.”

Some of you, perhaps in order to inject new vigor into the life of your Society, thought that it would be necessary to introduce substantially new elements into the Formula of the Institute, that is, into its primary norms or into its adaptation to the present social milieu. For our part, We cannot allow changes based on such reasoning to enter into your religious institute, which is of its very nature so special and so fully approved, not only by historical experience but also by hardly doubtful indications of divine protection. We feel that the Society must indeed be adapted and adjusted to this age of ours and must be enriched with new vitality, but always in accord with the principles of the Gospel and the Institute. It must not be transformed or deformed.

In view of this persuasion and our abundant love, We shall continue to take a solicitous part in all your affairs as often as the good of the Society or the Church seems to demand such involvement.

At the close of this Congregation, We gladly take advantage of the occasion to give this reminder to each and every son of St. Ignatius, scattered as they are throughout the world: Be loyal! This loyalty, which is freely and effectively shown to the Formula of the Institute, will safeguard the original and true form of the companions of Ignatius and strengthen the fruitfulness of their apostolate. This same loyalty must be considered a condition that is absolutely necessary to every type of ministry to which you are called, so that the name of Jesus may be spread and glorified throughout the world in the many and diverse areas of endeavor where you labor as members of a priestly and apostolic religious order that is united to the Supreme Pontiff by a special vow.

When We consider the great quantity of works which have been entrusted to you and which demand minds of proven maturity of judgment and firm wills outstanding in humility and generosity, it is our wish that all the members of the Society of Jesus be supported by supernatural helps and that they always rely on them! For no salvation can be brought to the world except through the selfless outpouring of the cross of Jesus Christ and “the foolishness of the message that we preach.”

Therefore We exhort all the companions of Ignatius to continue with renewed zeal to carry out all the works and endeavors upon which they have so eagerly embarked in the service of the Church and that they be aware of the importance of their tasks while at the same time they rely on the help and assistance of God who alone suffices just as he alone was always sufficient for Ignatius and Francis Xavier in the midst of the great needs which they experienced. You should be aware of the fact that not only the eyes of contemporary men in general but also and especially those of so many members of other religious orders and congregations and even those of the universal Church are turned toward you. May such grandly conceived hopes, then, not be frustrated! Go, therefore, and proceed in the name of the Lord. As sons and brethren, go forth always and only in the name of the Lord.

With our Apostolic Blessing, We wish to confirm this desire of our heart.

 

March 7, 1975

 

 

Original Source (English translation):

Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, “Address of Pope Paul VI in the Presence of Father General and the General Assistants,” pg. 394–395.