7 One experience worth sharing on this occasion is the
creation and progress of the Commission
on the Role of Women in the Apostolic Body of the Society of Jesus. The motivation
and starting point for this Commission were both our awareness of the sheer
scale of the participation of women at all levels of the work being done under
the responsibility of the Society of Jesus and our realization that we need to
deepen this participation.
The aim of the Commission is to evaluate
the conditions under which the participation of women is realized and to
propose ways to improve it. The Commission is composed of six women (one from
each regional conference, including one religious woman), one layman, and four
Jesuits from different provinces. It was formed in March 2021 and has a
three-year work program.
The first phase was dedicated to getting to
know one another better and searching for someone to coordinate the process. They
realized that there was a need to go beyond the members of the Commission and
to carry out a study that would survey the diversity of situations in which
women participate in the work of the Society. For this they received the
support of the Institute of Filipino Culture at the Ateneo University of
Manila, which developed a pilot test with various themes and questions.
It was not until October of this year 2022
that the Commission could meet in person here in Rome. Before that, all the work
had been done online. During this October meeting the importance of carrying
out a broad survey was confirmed. With the presence of the team from the
Institute at the Ateneo of Manila, an ambitious survey was planned; it will be
carried out in 2023, and after the results are studied, appropriate
recommendations will be made to the Society of Jesus in 2024.
This process gives me much hope, and I
look forward with optimism to the recommendations that this Commission will
propose for improving the quality of women’s participation in the apostolic
life of the body of the Society.
8 Organizing has already begun to ensure that young
people related to the Society’s works can participate in the World Youth Day, which will be held in
Lisbon in August 2023.
As on previous occasions, they will
participate in the World Day itself, but there will also be a prior program in
which a couple of thousand young people will engage in volunteer experiences in
communities in the country where the World Day takes place. This time the
experiences will be in Portugal and Spain.
This is another sign that nourishes my hope
in the possibilities of our helping to transform reality and of our walking
together toward a more just and humane future.
9 The Society of Jesus is also participating actively in
the synodal process that is preparing for the Synod on Synodality that will
take place in the two sessions planned for October 2023 and October 2024.
We are participating at the diocesan
level, both in the conferences of religious women and men and in apostolic
networks. We are also collaborating directly with the Vatican Secretariat of
the Synod by participating in the commissions on methodology, spirituality and
theology. One specific contribution is the Program for Discerning Leadership,
which this year was offered in English, Spanish and Italian in Rome and other
10 When we met together last year, the 2021-2022 Ignatian Year had already
begun, and it culminated in Loyola on July 31 this year. I must say that it was
a wonderful experience that far exceeded my personal expectations as well as
those of the sponsoring group.
It served to spur the creativity of the
provinces and the apostolic works, which organized countless initiatives involving
many people, times and places. Its main fruit was the renewal of our desire to
continue the process of conversion to which the Universal Apostolic Preferences
2019-2029 call us. You are already aware of these preferences, which are: to
show the way to God, to walk with the excluded; to accompany the youth, and to
contribute to the care of our Common Home.
At the start of this meeting you were able
to learn about some other experiences, such as the “cannonball” experiences in
some people’s lives, the report on the youth video contest, and the launch of
the new Ignatian Pilgrimage App.
The life of the Society of Jesus is much
richer than is apparent from what I have presented in this introduction. The
magazine Jesuits, which you received, illustrates other dimensions of
this life and describes the direct contact we have in so many countries. It paints
a picture with many colors. All this fills our heart with joy and Hope.
Thank you very much for your attention and interest.