A NEW, lively missionary spirit seems certain to go out soon from a somewhat austere building in the Borgo Santo Spirit°, just around thc corner from the Vatican, (writes Alan McElwain).
This is the headquarters of the Society of Jesus, the Catholic Church's largest, most powerful and iron-disciplined religious society, whose members are known as the Church's "shock troops".
The Jesuits have just elected a new Superior General, Spanish Fr. Pedro Arrupe, Not only is he thoroughly missionary-minded, but he has been active in the rdssion field for the past 27 years.
Right now, the Society of Jesus has more missionaries — 7,000 men in the field — than any other order. Like his predecessor, the late Belgian Fr, JeanBaptiste Janssens, Fr. Arrupe feels. however. that 191 per cent of the society's full strength is not enough to meet modern miss'un requirements. Also like Fr. Janssens, he would like to see it raised to 30 per cent -and, traditionally, when Jesuit Superiors General like a thing, they get it.
Fr, Arrupe, who is 57. was rector of the Jesuit college in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 5. 1945. He had studied medicine before he joined the Jesuits, and now he at once turned the college into a hospital.
His humanitarian efforts that day, and for many days to come, are still talked of in Japan, and he recorded his experiences in a book, "This Incredible Japan". published in his native Bilbao in 1959.
He was born on November 14, 1907. Like Pope Paul, he is the sort of a journalist: his father was one of the founders of La Gazeta del Norte, one of Spain's first Catholic papers.
Ordained in 1936, Fr. Arrupe was sent to Japan in 1938 on what turned out to be very largely a one-man missionaryorganising campaign. Immediately after the war. when the Church needed men for a great drive to speed Christianity in Asia. Fr. Arrupe built up the Jesuit missions in Japan into a dynamic force by enlisting the help ut Jesuits from more than 30 nations.
In 1954, Japan became a subprovince a the Jesuit "empire", with Fr. Arrupe in charge. In 1958, it was raised to a full province and he became the first provincial, remaining in the post until his election as Superior. General last week.
A man of extraordinary energy, mental and physical, he found time from his administrative duties to write not only "This I Tiered ible J apa n", but Japanese translations of Catholic classics, several volumes and commentaries oil the "Spiritual Exereises" of St. Ignatius Loyola, and other works. He speaks and writes petfeet Japanese and. apart from his native Spanish, is also fluent in Italian. German. French and English, and the Castilian, Basque and Catalan dialects.
He is the sixth Spaniard to head the Jesuit society since it was founded in 1540, and becomes the 27th successor to St. Ignatius Loyola. The 218 voters, representing the Society's 60 provinces who are attending the present general congregation elected him on the third ballot.
Two other Superiors General have got in on the third round, 13 were elected on the first ballot. and eight on the second. Two were elected on the fourth ballot. but the elections huve never extended to a fifth.
Some Jesuits will tell you without hatting an ecclesiastical eyelid that this is because, traditionally. the voters are permitted only bread and water until they have completed their balloting.
Fr. Arrupe is considered an open-minded, forward looking priest, who, in the internal politics of the Jesuit Society, has never tended towards extremes. one way or the other. His cupporters say that, apart from his missionary-mindedness, he thinks that the Jesuits. noted for their scholastic brelliance should he more active among the working classes, and also among university students.
He wants to see them also extend their interests in the allimportant field of modern communications — the cinema, rad'n (Jesuits run Vatican Radio, with its vast international network). television and the press.
Before the voting for the new Superior General began, Fr. Maurice Giuliani, elector for the Paris province, told the voters that "our company needs a general. to lead it in accepting, supporting and promoting the 'renovar on' inaugurated by the Ecumenical Council".
The Jesuits, who gave Fr. Arrupe far more than the twothirds majority he needed for election, obviously believe that they have got just that.