Dr Michael O’Sullivan SJ had to leave Chile under threat of death, when he worked there during the time of the Pinochet dictatorship. Now, for the first time, the Jesuits have elected a non-European leader who, like the present Pope, hails from Latin America. Michael says that in order to understand why the Jesuits would have elected someone like Fr Sosa, one has to look at the context, as well as the man himself.
In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications he explains how the Jesuits would have been aware of their special fourth vow to the Pope, who is himself a Jesuit, when choosing their new leader. So they would have wanted to reflect in their choice, some of the values close to the heart of Francis.
He says Fr Arturo would appear to have a natural affinity with the Pope’s concern for the poor, the displaced and the marginalised. He would have come from a similar background as the Pope, knowing well the huge disparity between the rich and the poor in Latin America. Like Bergoglio in Argentina, but in his own country of Venezuela, Fr Sosa worked hard on behalf of the poor. He was involved in advocacy and mediation as a social and political scientist. And in practical ventures such as the building of schools for the poor and an university in an impoverished area.
Also, like the Pope, he has come from a long tradition of leaders in the institutional Church gathering to discern their Christian call in terms of the needs and concerns of their people. In this regard, since 1955, Latin American bishops have been deeply concerned about the plight of the poor in their countries. They therefore have been addressing the responsibility, indeed vocation, of Church leaders to work with the poor to bring about a more equitable and just society for all.