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New Jesuit leader ‘a man of vision’

The new leader of the Jesuits worldwide is “decisive, visionary and has a great sense of humour,” according to Gerry Whelan SJ, an Irish Jesuit who lectures in the Gregorian Univiersty in Rome. Fr Arturo Sosa, newly elected Father General of the Jesuits, was until now Gerry’s Provincial in Rome, and he’d met with him only six months ago for his annual review.

In this telephone interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, Gerry gives his reaction news of the election in one word – joy. He explains how the murmuratio – the unique Jesuit process to elect a leader – has once again resulted in the right man for the task ahead. He notes also the significance of the Society electing a non-European for the first time in its history.

Gerry describes Fr Sosa as a very decisive man, familiar and comfortable with leadership roles. He says he’s not afraid to get into the middle of complex or fraught situations in order to work for a good outcome. A native of Venezuela, he was involved in mediation role with the controversial government of Hugo Chávez. He set up a university in one of the poorest regions of the country. And his academic credentials leave him well-place to understand societal and political structures.

At a personal level, Gerry says he is a warm and robust extrovert who he believes will make a fine leader for the Jesuits. He says Fr Sosa possesses the qualities needed to lead the Society as they follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis, adapting a faith that does justice to the challenges posed by our globalised world.