With hundreds of apostolates around the globe, governance of the
worldwide Society of Jesus requires a concerted effort to keep the
mission moving in harmony. Part of that effort is an occasional meeting
of the “Major Superiors” of each of the six Conferences of the Society.
These meetings are a chance for superiors to share hopes, dreams,
strategies, and opportunities for collaboration with their brother
Jesuits. During Fr. General’s visitation of India in late February, the
Major Superiors of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) gathered
to include Fr. General in their deliberations. We asked the Provincial
of Bombay, Fr. Arun de Souza, to give us a behind-the-scenes look of
what happens at these gatherings.
Flying out of India into Kathmandu is a beautiful experience. Just
before reaching Kathmandu, one notices the snowcapped peaks of the
Himalayas in a sea of blue sky and then, suddenly, from over the clouds,
you are descending into an emerald green valley: Kathmandu. This is a
picturesque way of looking at this year’s Jesuit Conference of South
Asia (JCSA) meeting. Going for the JCSA meeting to Kathmandu was a call
to rise above one’s narrow provincialism to enter the green fertile
zones of the service of the Universal Church.
Our first session with Mr. Kanak Mani Dixit, the founder editor of Himal,
a Nepali magazine devoted to Himalayan politics and culture, challenged
us to go beyond the idea of the nation state. As a via media, he
proposed that we look at ourselves first as South Asians rather than
through the tags of Nepali, Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani or
Bangladeshi. Wars, inequality, and exclusion were built on the idea of
the “nation”. His words were horrifically true: One must remember that
on that day (24 February) there were ongoing riots in Delhi engineered
precisely through these exclusionary processes. Mindful of this sad
state of affairs, the JCSA issued a statement denouncing the ongoing
attempt to divide India along religious lines through the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Delhi riots.