Jesuits elect Venezuelan as new head of order

Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, right, the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, greets the previous superior general, Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolas, after his election in Rome Oct. 14. Father Sosa, 67, is a member of the Jesuits' Venezuelan province. (CNS/Don Doll, S.J.)

Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, right, the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, greets the previous superior general, Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolas, after his election in Rome Oct. 14. Father Sosa, 67, is a member of the Jesuits’ Venezuelan province. (CNS/Don Doll, S.J.)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) — Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, a member of the Jesuits’ Venezuelan province, was elected the first non-European superior general of the Society of Jesus Oct. 14.

The 212 voting delegates to the Jesuit general congregation elected Father Sosa, 67. He succeeds Father Adolfo Nicolas, 80, who had asked to resign because of his age.

Pope Francis was informed of the election of Father Sosa before the Jesuits announced it publicly.

The election came after four days of prayer, silence and quiet one-on-one conversations among the voting delegates, who were chosen to represent the more than 16,000 Jesuits around the world.

In an interview Oct. 7 about the pre-election phase of the congregation, Father Sosa said delegates gathered come from different countries, but they share a common culture linked to their experience of the Ignatian spiritual exercises and practices of discernment. “We have a long tradition and a strong desire to listen to the same voice, that is the voice of the Holy Spirit,” he said in an interview published on the Jesuits’ gc36.org website.

Father Sosa was born in Caracas, Nov. 12, 1948. He joined the Jesuits in 1966 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977.

Prior to the election, he was Father Nicolas’ delegate for the international houses and works of the Society of Jesus in Rome. He has a doctorate in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He speaks Spanish, Italian, English and understands French, according to a press release from the Jesuits.

The resignation of Father Nicolas and the election of Father Sosa came during the order’s 36th general congregation, which began Oct. 2. After the election, the gathering was to continue as delegates focus on questions of Jesuit identity and governance, vocations, mission and collaboration with the laity.

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