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A Living Tradition​Part 1: Foundational Documents, Section C

The Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus, 2019

  1. On February 19, 2019, Father General Arturo Sosa promulgated The Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus, 2019-2029 [4]. These preferences were the fruit of an election, lasting almost two years, in which all members of the Society of Jesus were invited to participate as well as many lay colleagues. They will guide all works of the Society for the next ten years.
  2. As you will see from the selected passages below, and footnoted throughout this exercise, each of these four universal preferences confirms and strengthens the process, descriptions, challenges and calls for action in A Living Tradition. The four universal preferences are:
  1. 1. To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment [5]

  2. As believers we feel an urgent need to overcome both new secularisms and the nostalgia for cultural expressions of the past. We resolve to collaborate with the Church in experiencing secular society as a sign of the times that affords us the opportunity to renew our presence in the heart of human history. A mature secularized society opens up spaces for the complex dimensions of human freedom, especially religious freedom.
  3. At the same time, we resolve to offer the Spiritual Exercises in as many ways as possible, providing many people, especially the young, the opportunity to make use of them to begin or to advance in following Christ.
  4. We also resolve to promote discernment as a regular habit for those who choose to follow Christ. The Society of Jesus is committed to practicing and spreading spiritual discernment, both personal and communal, as the ordinary way of making decisions guided by the Holy Spirit in our lives, our apostolic works, and our ecclesial communities. This is a choice to seek and find the will of God, always, letting ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. Through our discernment in common of the apostolic preferences, we have experienced a renewal in our way of proceeding. Therefore, we resolve to make regular use of spiritual conversation and discernment in our implementation of the preferences at all levels of the life-mission of the Society.
  5. 2. To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice [6]

  6. We resolve to walk with individuals and communities that are vulnerable, excluded, marginalized, and humanly impoverished. We commit ourselves to walk with the victims of abuse of power, abuse of conscience, and sexual abuse; with the outcasts of this world; with all those whom the biblical tradition knows as the poor of the earth, to whose cry the Lord responds with his liberating incarnation.
  7. We confirm our commitment to care for migrants, displaced persons, refugees, and victims of wars and human trafficking. We also resolve to defend the culture and the dignified existence of indigenous peoples.
  8. We commit ourselves to help eliminate abuses inside and outside the Church, seeking to ensure that victims are heard and properly helped, that justice is done, and that harm is healed. This commitment includes the adoption of clear policies for the prevention of abuse, the ongoing formation of those who are committed to mission, and serious efforts to identify the social origins of abuse. In this way, we effectively promote a culture that safeguards all vulnerable persons, especially minors.
  9. 3. To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future [7]
  10. Young people experience the tension between the drive toward cultural homogeneity and the emergence of an intercultural human society that respects and is enriched by diversity. The logic of the market economy leads to homogeneity, but young people aspire instead to diversity that corresponds to the exercise of true freedom and opens up creative spaces that contribute to the emergence of a humane, intercultural society. With that as a base, they can commit themselves to building a culture of safeguarding that guarantees a healthy environment for children and young people, creating conditions that allow all to develop their full potential as human beings.
  11. To accompany young people demands of us authenticity of life, spiritual depth, and openness to sharing the life-mission that gives meaning to who we are and what we do. Having these, we can learn, along with the young, to find God in all things, and through our ministries and apostolates, we can help them live this stage of their lives more profoundly. Accompanying young people puts us on the path of personal, communitarian, and institutional conversion.
  12. 4. To collaborate in the care of our Common Home [8]
  13. We resolve, considering who we are and the means that we have, to collaborate with others in the construction of alternative models of life that are based on respect for creation and on a sustainable development capable of producing goods that, when justly distributed, ensure a decent life for all human beings on our planet.
  14. The preservation over time of the conditions of life on our planet is a human responsibility of immense ethical and spiritual importance. Our collaboration should include both participating in efforts to analyze problems in depth and promoting reflection and discernment that will guide us in making decisions that help to heal the wounds already inflicted on the delicate ecological balance.
  15. We are especially concerned about areas that are so crucial for maintaining the natural equilibrium that makes life possible, such as the Amazon region; the river basins of the Congo, India, and Indonesia; and the great extensions of open sea. Caring for nature in this way is a form of genuinely worshiping the creative work of God. Bold decisions are required to avoid further damage and to bring about lifestyle changes that are necessary so that the goods of creation are used for the benefit of all. We want to be actively present in this process.

Exercise 3. For discernment:

  1. Have you read the entire document?
  2. What do you find particularly moving?
  3. What do you find to be challenging?
  4. What do you find that needs further clarification?
  5. How do you assess its usefulness?
  6. How could your institution respond to these Universal Apostolic Preferences?