06 February 2020, The Tablet

Pedro Arrupe – a transparent soul lit by palpable holiness

Pedro Arrupe – a transparent soul lit by palpable holiness

St Teresa of Kolkata pictured in 1982 with Fr Arrupe (right and inset below) in Rome
CNS/courtesy Jesuits Global


A British Jesuit recalls an extraordinary life that witnessed war, rapid change and reform, humiliation and vindication, and whose case for canonisation was opened a year ago this week

Looking back to my time as a Jesuit in “formation”, it was striking that, however much Jesuits disagreed about the significance of different figures from the history of the order, there was a rare and unanimous affection for the former General of our Society, Pedro Arrupe Gondra.

Older Jesuits lit up when they spoke of their meetings with him, often recalling how he had re-energised them. Many mentioned Arrupe’s “aura”: a palpable holiness that added to the integrity of his message. Arrupe is even seen by some as a second founder of the Society of Jesus, following in the footsteps of his fellow Basque, Ignatius of Loyola, and giving it a fresh impetus in the years after the Second Vatican Council.

But his time as General spanned years of unsettled questions about Jesuit identity and mission, and saw a sometimes tense relationship with two popes, beginning with a disagreement with Paul VI and ending with John Paul II’s controversial 18-month intervention in the governance of the Society.

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