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Venezuelan elected as Jesuit Superior General

fr_arturo_sosa_sj_photo_courtesy_of_the_jesuits_36th_general_congregation_cnaVATICAN CITY – After several weeks of discussion and discernment, the Jesuit order has elected Fr Arturo Sosa as their new Superior General, who will be taking over after the resignation of their former leader, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, CNA/EWTN News reported on 14 Oct 2016.

Former head of the Venezuelan Jesuit province, Fr Sosa entered the Society of Jesus in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1977.

He has obtained degrees in philosophy, theology and political science, and was a member of the Social Center of the Venezuelan province from 1977-1996, when he was appointed as Superior of the Jesuits in Venezuela, guiding through the stormy waters of Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship.

In 2004, he was named General Counselor of the Society of Jesus, a position he held until 2011. He has until now served as president of the University in the State of Táchira, a role he has also held since 2004.

Fr Sosa’s election as the 31st General Superior of the Jesuits marks the first time a Latin American has led the Society, and he takes the helm under the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit and Latin American Pope.

Founded by St Ignatius of Loyola in 1540, the Society of Jesus always holds a general congregation upon the death or resignation of the Superior General in order to choose his successor. They can also be called if the Superior sees the need to take action on a serious matter that he either can’t or doesn’t want to decide on alone.

In this case, the Jesuits called their 36th General Congregation after Fr Adlofo Nicolás, from Spain, submitted his resignation at the age of 80 after running the order for eight years.

Deliberations began Oct 2 when 215 delegates from around the world gathered at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome, located just a few feet from the Vatican. Out of the total 215 delegates, 212 participated in the voting.

On Oct 10 participants began the centuries-old practice of the “murmuratio,” which is a four-day process of one-on-one conversations and information gathering aimed at preparing for the election by discussing the merits of the various candidates.

Jesuits – who in addition to making the usual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience – make additional special vow of obedience to the Pope “in regards to mission,” and swear an oath to never seek higher offices within the Church. Thus, any Jesuit who discovers someone campaigning must report them immediately.

However, while they are not allowed to pursue positions of authority, their vow of obedience to the Pope means they must submit when he calls. Such was the case with Pope Francis, who was named auxiliary bishop and then Archbishop of Buenos Aires by St John Paul II.

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