Tuesday 4 October 2016

Meeting of cultures and change of cultures -Day 2 of GC 36

The sun is shining in Rome and the Congregation this morning began with song and  prayer. A German and Chilean Jesuit Scholastic led the assembly in a Taize chant and spiritual reflection.

Everyone is now getting accustomed on how to use their Tablet- this new technology was a challenge at the beginning but now members are getting more familiar with its use.

The morning and afternoon was spent in different language groups centring around focussed questions on the documents which were prepared before the Congregation.  The great gift of these groups is not only a lively exchange of reflections on different matters relating to the identity and mission of the Society of Jesus  but also encuntering   one another from different corners of the world.  Such a variety of backgrounds, difference of cultures, riches of work experience makes these meetings so fruitful and life giving.  The increasing demographic changes with the majority of delegates coming from the Southern Hemiphere brings new cultural perspectives in being a Jesuit today.   Amidst the difference there is a unity and solidarity in companionship and mission.

This group work is also part of the preparation in helping the delegates to get to know one another  before the election of a new General.  It is indeed an experience of the universality of the Society of Jesus and the depth and variety of service it renders to the people of God where it is present.  It is indeed a privileged moment to witness this.

The demographic shift is one  point of interest that has captured many peoples' attention about General Congregation 36.  It  is the growing presence of active members from provinces of the global south. For GC 35 this region already represented the majority (54%). Now, however, their percentage has increased to represent 59% of the Congregation. Among other aspects, this reflects the growing number of vocations in Asia and Africa in these past years.
Asia and Oceania have grown from 28% to 33%. A third of the Congregation comes from the East, mainly from the South Asia Conference, and to be more precise from the provinces of India. 72 members of the Congregation will come from these regions in the East. Africa, also, has grown from 8% to 10%. 21 members of the Congregation will come from provinces in Africa.
The greatest novelty is that almost all the electors coming from these regions are born in these continents.    
Latin America’s presence, however, has diminished. In GC 35 their representation was 18% and in GC 36 it will be only 16%, just slightly above the participation from North America (15%) which has maintained stable. This drop is due largely to the restructuring of provinces, which has reduced from 16 provinces and two regions to only 12 provinces.
The greatest diminishment, however, is from Europe. This region has dropped from 31% at GC 35 to 26% at GC 36. As a result Europe is no longer the largest, nevertheless, continues to have the most members represented by right of office. 56 Jesuits from European provinces will participate in the Congregation, of which 35 are elected members, 14 are provincials and 7 are members by right of office.
GC 35GC 36
Latin America18%16%
Asia and Oceania28%33%
North America15%15%

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