Jim Corkery SJ, Professor of Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, spoke to Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications on the recent news that the case for beatification and canonisation of former Father General Pedro Arrupe has been opened. Fr Corkery also spoke about Pope Francis’s involvement in the case as significant for the Church and the Society of Jesus.
Fr Corkery spoke about the painful time when Pope John Paul II interceded in the governance of the Society when Arrupe was Father General. Regarding the unfavorable reports that the Pope was receiving at the time, he said: “We’ve had our enemies in history, and that continues. I think Jesus had his enemies too. I think if you are a Christian and nobody ever opposes anything you say or do, well then you must wonder if you are maybe a bit too mild a Christian”.
Fr Corkery recalls meeting Arrupe in Dublin. “He gave hope wherever he went…I met him once here in Milltown Park before he got that stroke. I was a bit in awe. He had a willing personality too, but something simple at the core.”
The theologian maintains that Arrupe truly preached the Gospel message: “Oh yes, and he suffered enormously at that time, enormously. He was a very holy man… To be holy and to keep God first and to have those characteristics also of being able to run a religious order, for example, but be most misunderstood as I believe he was”.
Regarding Arrupe’s abiding contribution, Fr Corkery said: “The first word that comes to mind is freedom. Arrupe freed the Society from being encrusted in procedures and rules that might have been stultifying. He brought creativity. He trusted in people, he liberated freedom in a strange way for the commitment to justice…and he was prayerful”.
Fr Corkery also spoke of Pope Francis as someone who is not afraid to be a Christian today. “Like Pope Francis that everybody loves to get at, well, it seems to me that it might be because he’s trying to preach the Gospel.”
The theologian believes that the Pope’s involvement in Arrupe’s case for canonisation is “a way of vindicating his contribution to the life of the Church and to the Society of Jesus at that time”.
Listen to the interview for the full story.