By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis met Wednesday with young Jesuits participating in the meeting of “European Jesuits in Formation,” taking place this week in Rome. The meeting is focused on the theme of communication.
In his short address to the Jesuits, the Holy Father said he laughed when they spoke of “unifying Jesuit ministry.” He recalled an unnamed General of the Society who, when he was reminded that the General’s duty was to shepherd the Jesuits, responded, “Yes, but it’s like shepherding a flock of frogs!” But, he said, this is one of the great strengths of the Society: a “unity with great diversity” which allows each of the “frogs” the opportunity to discern his own particular calling.
Pope Francis also recalled the words of Blessed Paul VI and former Superior General Pedro Arrupe, speaking at a time of great difficulty for the Jesuits. Both Pope and General called the Jesuits of their day to have courage, courage which is a grace from God.
With time left in their audience, Pope Francis took a question from one of the Jesuits, who asked about how to communicate with young people, who often have to deal with unemployment. The Pope responded that this was one of the “most acute and painful problems for young people, because it goes straight to the heart of the person.” Being unable to find work, to put food on the table, he said, takes away a person’s dignity.
The cause of unemployment, he said, can be found in a world economy that puts finance, rather than the human person, at its centre. This, the Pope said, is “the great sin against the dignity of the person: to remove the person from their central place.
Pope Francis said he wanted to address the question in a more general way to get to the root of the problem. The crisis of unemployment, he said, is not a superficial question: it can lead to suicide, addiction, and even terrorism. He called on the Jesuits to find creative solutions for the problem. It is important he said, “to understand the problems of young people, to make them feel that they are understood”; and this, he continued, “is communicating with him. Then it is important to help them find a solution – but this, he concluded, requires “a prophetic word,” and “a bit of human inventiveness.”
Finally, the Holy Father reminded the Jesuits that Thursday is the feast of St Peter Faber, SJ. He asked the Jesuits to pray to him, “that he might give us the grace to learn to communicate."