On the 70th year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights yesterday, 10th of December 2018, Father General Arturo Sosa met with about 60 representatives of key Jesuit social centers in the Philippines. The meeting was led by Fr. Patrick Falguera, Province Assistance for Social Apostolate, who presented to the General the social centers’ critical issues and concerns, the most significant of which was the “attacks on the fragile democracy in the Philippines” by no less than its government. The others chimed in, focusing primarily on the government’s on-going war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives and the President’s attack on the Philippine Church in order to undermine its moral influence on Philippine society. In response, the General shared about the experience of his country, Venezuela, in its descent towards authoritarianism. He emphasized however the distinct service that a Jesuit social apostolate can do for the country: social analysis. “We need analysis to be able to do good actions,” he said. He also stressed the need for greater faith and hope among the social agents. He said we need to believe that what we are doing will really bear fruit. The General ended by affirming the work of the centers, saying that “Christians must participate in politics. Christians are called to become citizens, be involved in the state, in government, [and to work] for the common good.”
In the afternoon, Father General paid a courtesy call to the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Antonio Tagle, at the latter’s residence in Intramuros, Manila. Also in attendance were Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of the Diocese of Cubao, Bishop Mylo Vergara of Pasig, and Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan. The previous day, Father General visited Archbishop David in Caloocan, where the Philippine Jesuits had recently opened a mission house as a way of supporting the Archbishop in his pastoral work in the so-called “ground zero” of the government’s violent war on drugs.
The day ended quietly for the General with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center, which houses about 25 elderly and infirm Jesuits from various Jesuit communities in the Philippines. At the dinner that followed, the elderly Jesuits expressed to the General how moved and grateful they were that the General of the Society visited them.