The 33rd General Congregation opened with a concelebration with Pope John Paul II. The members of the congregation offered the following remarks to the pontiff.
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September 2, 1983
Most Holy Father,
As we begin this solemn celebration, may I express to Your Holiness, in the name of all here present, our heartfelt thanks!
Thanks for allowing us to meet you on the very first day of our General Congregation.
Thanks too for inviting us to join you in this Eucharistic Sacrifice, at which we invoke the blessings of the Holy Spirit on our work in the days to come.
Thanks moreover for coming all the way from Castel Gandolfo to our own Headquarters, which will be the scene of our labors.
We are deeply moved by this gesture of great good will. Rejoicing with us are all the members of the Society of Jesus: the men who are serving in every part of the world, and—I may add—those that have attained the bliss of heaven; chief among them, our Father Saint Ignatius, who will see in this great event a further confirmation of that special bond that commits the Society to the Vicar of Christ, and which he regarded as the “principle and chief foundation” of our order.
When Ignatius and his first companions came to Rome, their hearts were ablaze with a twofold love: love for Christ, the eternal and universal King, whom alone they wanted to serve; and love for all humanity, to whom they wished to bring the Good News and the grace of Christ. Not knowing where they might best achieve their purpose, they approached the universal Pastor of the Church, and from him received instructions and a mission.
We too, in our day, come as their successors, our hearts ablaze with a twofold love: love for Christ the Lord, to whom we have consecrated—and would consecrate ever more fully—our lives; and love for the people all around us, who are in the grip of such dire need, both spiritual and material, and to whom we want to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, his grace, and perfect wholeness. Having in mind our special vow of obedience to the Supreme Pontiff with regard to missions, we approach Your Holiness for instructions and a mission.
Our General Congregation has in view: first, to elect a Superior General who will receive from the Pope the missions that he can in his tum entrust to members of the Society, while he watches over their faithful accomplishment; second, to enact decrees that can help in the carrying out of missions: by promoting the renewal of our interior life from which flows the effectiveness of external activity, and by wisely planning our apostolic efforts.
We do realize, Holy Father, and we readily admit our limitations and shortcomings. But there is in all of us a solid and sincere will to be faithful to our vocation.
The best witnesses to this are the great number of our brothers who in every quarter of the globe and in every field of apostolate are toiling strenuously for the cause of Christ.
There is witness too from those who, while subject to unfriendly governments and deprived of religious liberty, strive by all means to exercise their ministry, though faced with the gravest difficulties, such as have prevented some from being present on this occasion, like the Provincials of Bohemia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Romania. A very special witness is borne by those dearly loved brothers who are suffering persecution for the sake of Christ, like those in China and Vietnam who have recently been condemned to prison or the concentration camp, because of their loyalty to Christ and to his Vicar on earth.
To call them to mind on this solemn occasion is for us both a duty and a grace. To have before us their example will be an inspiration to imitate their steadfastness in faith and in love. To offer up their sacrifice in union with the Eucharistic Sacrifice which we are about to celebrate around this altar, is to reinforce our plea for an abundance of heavenly graces—as a pledge of which, Most Holy Father, we have your presence in our midst today and the apostolic blessing which we humbly request.
Original Source (English translation):
Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st–35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, “Address of Homage of Fr. Paolo Dezza to Pope John Paul II,” pg. 471–472.