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Pedro Arrupe: ‘Changing the hearts of people’

Brian Grogan SJ, who has published ‘Pedro Arrupe SJ: Mystic with Open Eyes’ with Messenger Publications, spoke to Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications about the life of the former Father General whose case for beatification has recently been opened. He also described his “privileged” encounters with him.

Fr Grogan, who met Arrupe several times, particularly remembered meeting him in Rome in 1981. He was invited to visit him before being missioned to Somalia with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). “He stuck out his skinny hand and waved it at me and said ‘Go!’ Well, this was the most dramatic missioning I’d ever come across! That single word ‘Go’ was a great support to me in dark times.”

The Irish Jesuit referred in his book to the time when Arrupe responded to the horror of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima when he lived there with his Jesuit community. “He used his desk as an operating theatre… he saved the lives of a number of people.” It was noted that he strongly desired to work in the opposite direction such as from that which resulted in the atrocities of war. He believed in “changing the hearts of people”.

Fr Grogan described the painful period of Arrupe’s life when his relationship with John Paul II was “fragile”. A number of reasons were cited including his naivety in the way in which Rome operated and his work for a ‘faith that does justice’ that he saw was in line with Vatican II, but which others did not agree with. His response to the near split of the Spanish Jesuits from the Society and his debilitating stroke were also observed.

“For him, Christ was everything, and to be in love with God was a natural mode for him.”

Click on the podcast link for the full interview.