Among the topics we have worked on has been the nature of a “work”: what is a “work of the Society of Jesus?” Our language has been unfocused and there is a lack of clarity about this. We have also been considering the growing changes in the financial world. For example, our law that says that Jesuits may not own things in their name becomes problematic. Already, one country has banned currency and Jesuits must have bank accounts to be able to do any kind of financial transaction, from buying candy to clothing or to paying any other kind of bill. There is certainly a need to talk about the role of the individual in the administration of goods. Another example: the requirements in the world of finances are more complex and must take into account the laws to counter money laundering.
Another major concern for the committee is the cultural problem linked with the various languages. When we try to describe what “poor” or what “modest” means, we face difficulties related to different areas of the world. “Poverty, “pauvreté”, “povertà” have overtones that are different from one language to another. To have a broad guideline that is culturally appropriate is a challenge when writing instructions and statutes. For example, in one culture, “modest” means being well off while in another culture being modest is closer to being poor. The manual that we are revising has to be flexible enough for the Society to follow the changes and take into account the cultural sensitivities.
What are your expectations, what are your hopes? How do you think your work could help the Society in the next decades?
The document is not going to change anything if there is no conversion in the Society. That’s always the challenge. Hopefully it will provide better guidance for the Society as it continues to face different challenges in the world, diminution in some parts of the world, growth in other parts, cultural prejudices and the like. And hopefully it will also help us to become more global in our awareness and solidarity. I think that the world has become more interdependent and so have our finances. That would be certainly a part of the future direction on how we will live in the Society and how we will live our poverty, not only in our personal life and the life of the Provinces but also in the works of our apostolates. This is related to another question that Father General has raised: what does “poverty” mean for our apostolic institutions?