Pope Francis has named a 54-year-old Jesuit to be the new head of the Church’s Apostolic Administration of Kyrgyzstan. Jesuit Father Anthony J. Corcoran, who was born in Tucson (Arizona, USA), has been serving as superior of the Jesuits’ Russia region since 2009 and has been working in Russia for the past 20 years. The Apostolic Administration of Kyrgyzstan includes about 500 Catholics out of a total population of 5.5 million people, according to Vatican statistics. Five religious-order priests and five women religious minister there. The Vatican announced Father Corcoran’s appointment Aug. 29. Born April 19, 1963, he earned a degree in political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1985, then entered the Jesuits. He earned a master’s in international political economics from Fordham University in New York in 1990, then spent two years teaching at Jesuit High School in New Orleans. In 1995, he earned a degree in theology from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was ordained to the diaconate. He was ordained to the priesthood a year later. After completing a degree in spiritual theology from Weston, he moved to Russia in 1997, serving as director of the pre-seminary in Novosibirsk and then as spiritual director there. Simultaneously, he served as pastor of the parish of St. Joseph in Berdsk from 1998 to 2008 and as vicar general of the Diocese of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk from 1999 to 2008.
Radicalism was a central theme in the meeting of the Jesuits Among Muslims (JAM) group held in Mojokerto near Surabaya, Indonesia. About 20 people including Jesuits from Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Algeria came together from August 7 to 11 to experience and learn about the Muslims living in an Islamic context that is different from the Arab. Dr Haula Noor, a Muslim scholar, spoke about the role of family engagement, religious upbringing and family climate in jihadism. She argued that parents’ engagement in jihadism, the ability to create a family climate and religious upbringing facilitate the transmission of desired values from parents to children. “Because children are their parents’ responsibility, there is a duty to educate parents to contribute to counter-extremism programmes run by civil society and governments, as well as to protect their children from radicalism,” she said. Prof Azumardi Azra from Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University in Jakarta shared his reflection on the rampant violence and terrorism in the majority of the Muslim countries of the Arab world, South Asia and Africa perpetrated by groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab, as well as violence and terrorism committed by Muslims in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. He also mentioned the continuing conflicts, civil wars and self-destruction in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, saying these countries are challenged not to fall into the danger of becoming ‘failed states’. The mass migration from the Arab world and South Asia to Europe, Southeast Asia, North America and Australia is also another challenge. “One has to realise that the problem is very complex, involving various aspects, not only religious, but also political, economic and social,” said Prof Azra, noting that the contribution of Indonesian Muslims to the world is their modern concept of a nation state. Indonesia adopted democracy rather than Islamic theocracy. “Muslims accept democracy for it is regarded as compatible with Islam,” he said, pointing out that Indonesia enjoys political stability and steady economic growth. He added that religious-based civil society organisations, such as Nahdatul Ulama (the Awakening of Ulama), Muhammadiyah and other smaller organisations across the country, which are inclusive and accept multiculturalism, “play an instrumental role in growing and strengthening ‘civic culture’ and ‘civility’, which are crucial for democracy to grow, for the maintenance of social cohesion and the provision of alternative socio-political leadership”. Sidney Jones brought up the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, Philippines against Islamic State-linked terrorists. “President Duterte’s administration’s response to Islamist extremism so far has been to try to crush it militarily,” she said, “but too often strong-arm tactics only breed more fighters — and fighters with a desire for revenge”.  Her view is that the Philippine government must instead come up with a comprehensive strategy to fix the social, economic and political problems that have led Islamic State ideologues to exert so much appeal in Mindanao. After hearing from the Islamic experts, one group visited the Sunan Ampel Islamic State University in Surabaya, a prestigious Islamic university connected to Indonesia’s largest moderate Islamic organisation Nahdatul Ulama. The other group visited Tebuireng Islamic Boarding School in Jombang built in 1899 by Hasyim Ashari who, along with several traditional Islamic leaders, founded Nahdatul Ulama in 1926. This year, the situation in Pakistan and Turkey drew special attention during the sharing. “There are few Jesuits working there and the apostolates in those countries offer certain challenges as well as opportunities,” shared Fr Heru Prakosa SJ, Delegate for Islam under the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations in Rome and Coordinator of Dialogue with Islam for the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. “There is no question that Pakistan and Tukey are frontier territories for the Jesuits,” he said. Download the complete report of this JAM Meeting by Jean-Marc Balhan SJ
The second cluster meeting of the cluster took place in Brussels on July 14 and 15. The Higher Education for Social Transformation (HEST)  campaign is envisioned as a fifteen-year, pan-continental, cross-disciplinary endeavour which will consider a range of issues including; Christian-Muslim relations, the interaction between science and religion, what it means to be human, how to integrate migrants and refugees, and the role of spirituality (especially Ignatian spirituality) in contemporary life. The goal is to produce meaningful and quality research that can be communicated to a range of audiences so as to promote progressive advocacy in each area. The second cluster meeting of the cluster on Economy, Poverty and Ethics took place on July 14 and 15, at the CEP office in Brussels. Dr. José Sols and Dr. Pedro Caldentey, the two coordinators of the clusters, welcomed us and leaded the session. 7 people participated in the meeting: Pedro Caldentey from Universidad Loyola Andalucía Annick Castiaux from Université de Namur Dariusz Dankowski from Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow Kevin Hargaden from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin Marcel Remon from the Centre de recherche et d'action sociales (CERAS) in Paris José Carlos Romero from the CEP José Sols from IQS – Ramon Llull University This time, we scheduled a two days meeting starting with the lunch on Friday and finishing with a farewell lunch on Saturday. Since it was the second meeting of the cluster and hence we already knew who we were and what we were doing, we devoted the meeting to discuss the next steps. During the Friday afternoon, we reviewed the situation of the global HEST initiative in general and the cluster on Economy, Poverty and Ethics in particular. Two projects had been proposed as possible focus areas of the cluster, i.e. (1) ‘Towards a humanistic management of the firm. Business activity to enhance integral human development’ and (2) ‘Fourth Technological Revolution, the Crisis of Employment and the Basic Income’. Pedro Caldentey and José Sols presented them and a fruitful dialogue came afterwards in which good insights were provided. Consequently, the second session on Saturday morning focused on the design of a concrete Action Plan for the cluster. Eventually we agreed on meeting again in March 2018 in Madrid and to start working on 4 different publications based on the proposed topics. Speaking after the meeting, Kevin Hargaden from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin said, “To be able to collaborate within such a diverse group of expertise is a real honour. With the professionalisation of research, all too commonly we lose the big picture because we are so focused on the details of our specific field. With the HEST initiative, research communities across Europe have the chance to rediscover the big picture”. Read also 2 articles of the Irish Centre for Faith and Justice (ICFJ): Ivory towers or places of power? JCFJ Joins European Research Initiative for Social Transformation
Abraham's way is a pilgrimage dedicated exclusively to men, only to those who are not afraid of anything. Not the distance of over 150 km is a problem, but the form of pilgrimage. "Apart from the necessary clothes we had nothing. We went without money, credit cards, phones, nor provided meals and overnight stays. We went to Saint Lipka Sanctuary without an appointed route" explains Jesuit Daniel Wojda. Before they set off, they met at a two-day retreat. One day was devoted to learning how to proclaim the Word of God, how to pray for others. Many prayed for themselves. They adored the Blessed Sacrament. "It was a warm-up," Daniel smiles. "It turned out to be very precious," he adds. The first part of the day is walking in silence. Everyone listened to specially recorded MP3 meditations. Morning is the time for prayer, reflection, dialogue with God. “Everyone walks with a spiritual baggage" - explains Daniel. He believes that Abraham is a figure that inspires. Patriarch’s life, the life of each of us, is the way of gaining faith, developing it. "We say that Abraham's Way is not going on one’s feet but heart. It is not measured by the number of kilometres, but the number of transformations that have occurred in me. - he smiles. They began the journey in Makow Mazowiecki, central Poland and reached Saint Lipka Sanctuary in the north. These were two points that were set ahead on their path. Only those were known. The rest was God's plan. In the morning nobody knew where to sleep, where to eat, whom the Lord would set on the road. A pilgrimage without money, without phones, without contact with the world left behind, requires some courage. And this is something that can attract men. Today it is not easy to make  them to stand on Jesus' side to testify of Him. This road taught us that, just as Abraham, to give up everything he have, to be sure, and go for God's promise - says Romek, a participant. In total, 35 men went this summer’s Abraham's Way. The popularity of the pilgrimage is constantly growing and the Jesuits decided to organize another edition in September.
Gerry Whelan SJ, professor of fundamental theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, talks about writing his new book on Pope Francis. He outlines the ‘method’ of the late philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan SJ, which he has used as a lens for interpreting Pope Francis’ way of proceeding. The Irish Jesuit, who is on holiday in Ireland says that the aim of the publication is to try to provide an academic defence to the pastoral dimension of Pope Francis’ pontificate. “A certain mentality central to my book,” says Gerry, “is Lonergan’s assertion that the key challenge in theology today is a transition from classical mindedness to historical consciousness.” The professor explains that classical mindedness is formulaic in nature and not dependent on time or place. Historical consciousness on the other hand, pays heed to the particularities of a culture that evolves and changes over time. Regarding Pope Francis’ own exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Gerry says the work is “an example of this shift from classicist thinking to historically conscious thinking in the area of what we call moral theology, therefore sexuality and marriage”.  Pope Francis is expected to attend the World Meeting of Families, that will be held in Dublin, Ireland next year, 22 – 26 August. Gerry believes he will be a sensitive presence, attentive to the pastoral realities on the ground. This would include, for example, the situation of divorced or remarried couples. However, he also points out that Francis is still relatively conservative in doctrine and in ideals. It is thought that he may use the World Meeting of Families as a platform to give a challenging message on abortion. In this interview with Pat Coyle, Gerry also points to Pope Francis’ past in trying to provide an academic defence to his pastoral leanings. He notes that the Pope, as a Jesuit in Argentina, was very worried about potentially harmful interpretations of the preferential option for the poor. Some had interpreted this option from a purely Marxist standpoint. Nonetheless, he himself had a great love and concern for the poor, then and now, as is evidenced in his many public pronouncements. His critique of the situation of the poor is rooted in the Gospel, not Marxist-based. “He is also very alert to cultures that make the preaching of the Word of the Christian Gospel very difficult.” Gerry Whelan SJ’s book is due out next year. Listen the podcast: interview of Gerry Whelan SJ by Pat Coyle
Every two years are getting together the formators of the Jesuit novices for a one week meeting to exchange experiences about introducing the religious life to the new members of the order and this year the meeting was from 24 to 30 June in Prague, Czech Republic. Today’s times need more than ever permanent reflection of the process of formation. We need to reflect not only the formation of beginners, but the general process of formation. However the beginning is always essential. We have actually in the Europe ten novitiates, including the novitiate of the Middle East province. Usually there are novices from a several countries in each of the novitiates. The novitiate of the PRO in Cairo (Egypt) has novices from northern Africa, Syria and Lebanon, in Birmingham (England) there are the novices from England, Scotland, Ireland and northern Belgium. The novitiate in Nürnberg (Germany) includes German, Austrian, Swiss, Hungarian and Lithuanian novices. The novitiate in Ruzomberok (Slovakia) is common for Czech and Slovak novices, the novitiate in Lyon (France) is for France and southern Belgium. The novitiate in Genova (Italy) has novices from Italy, Malta and Slovenia. Polish novitiate in Gdynia is for novices from Poland, Russia and Ukraine. The novitiate in Split (Croatia) is for novices from Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Serbia. At the meeting took part the novice masters Fr. Jan Adamík SJ (BOH), Fr. Stipo Balatinac SJ (CRO), Fr. Thomas Hollweck SJ (GER), Fr. Piotr Szymański SJ (PMA), Fr. Abel Toraño SJ (ESP), Fr. Miguel Ferreira SJ (POR), Fr. Thierry Anne SJ (GAL), Fr. Mourad Abou Seif SJ (PRO) and the socius Fr. Ray Pace SJ (ITA) and Fr. Simon Bishop SJ (BRI). At the meeting took also part Fr. Franck Janin SJ, present provincial of southern Belgium and Luxembourg who was recently appointed by the general superior Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ to the President of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials. Next guest was ex-novice master of Hungarian novitiate Fr. János Lukács SJ who was leading the conferences about our Constitutions, focusing on the parts speaking about the formation of new members.


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Apostleship of Prayer Meeting of the European National Directors of the Apostleship of Prayer READ MORE
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Sep 2017
Higher Education for Social Transformation Meeting Higher Education for Social Transformation READ MORE
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Social Delegates READ MORE
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