18 October 2016, The Tablet

'Black Pope' tells Jesuits to make the 'impossible possible' and help human beings find reconciliation

Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal speaks to press for the first time since being elected to lead the Society of Jesus

Members of the Society of Jesus must look to "make the impossible possible", and to make a meaningful contribution toward "reconciliation among human beings" and with God and creation," according to the newly elected Jesuit superior general. 

"This is a great call to reconciliation. The kingdom of God cannot be present, cannot exist among us if we do not understand each other, if we do not recognise each other as people, if we do not try to have a situation in which the world can live in peace," said Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal.

Speaking at his first meeting with the press on Tuesday (18 October), Sosa also said Christians should heed Pope Francis' message on caring for the environment and reconciling with creation because "we are so wounded that we even put the planet Earth at risk".

A member of the Jesuits' Venezuelan province, Sosa was elected on 14 October after four days of prayer, silence and quiet one-on-one conversations among the 212 voting delegates gathered in Rome for the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus.

Regarding his election, Sosa told journalists that while he was surprised, he was also "serene" and "grateful to the Lord". "I feel ready to respond with joy to the Spirit who, through the congregation, has called me unexpectedly to be the next superior general," he said. 

During his first Mass as superior general the day after his election, the 'Black Pope' reflected on seeking to do not only the improbable but the impossible because nothing is impossible to God. When asked to explain, Father Sosa said that to seek the impossible is "a Christian mission" and "a way of expressing one's faith." 

For example, if someone were to analyze the current situation in the world, he said, "the world would seem to be getting worse and he or she can become pessimistic." 

Countries like Sosa's native Venezuela, which is facing the worst economic crisis in its history, have adopted economic and political models "that cannot sustain the needs of the people," he said. In Venezuela, he added, not only should the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition work together, but the Catholic Church also must continue to give "its important contribution to the common good".

While other problems such as war, violence, drug and human trafficking may seem insurmountable, he said, Jesuits are called to make known to the world that the "impossible is possible" not only through spiritual formation but also through their service as educators.

The superior general, who has known Pope Francis since 1983, stressed that at the heart of the Jesuits' mission is their link to the papacy and their willingness to obey him in choosing the priorities of their mission. 

"If you are in any location, your temptation is to see that the most important thing is to work there. But there is somebody in the church that has that overview, and can say, 'No, that is very important, but I need you in another part of the world,'" Father Sosa said. 

"The idea is to be an organization -- the Society of Jesus -- that can help the church when, where and in doing what the church needs," he said.

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