Saturday, November 24, 2012

Porta Fidei ?

Pope Benedict XVI at the Famiglia Sagrada in Barcelona

Pope Benedict XVI kicked off The Year of Faith thus:
“The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.
It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.
To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.
It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22).
To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.”
Pope Benedict XVI  Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei – Indiction ofthe Year of Faith

The Jesuits in Britain have announced that they will be handing over the set of keys for one Door of Faith - the Sacred Heart Parish in Wimbledon -  to the Archdiocese of Southwark.

The Jesuits have been in the Parish for 130 years

The Father Provincial explained the reasons in a letter to parishioners:

“The development of the Wimbledon mission took place when the British Jesuits were expanding their works and apostolates across the world. The needs were many, but the resources (thanks be to God) were forthcoming and that allowed this expansive dynamic to gain traction – in the Caribbean, Southern Africa and in other parts of the globe as well as major city and rural areas across England, Scotland and Wales. Schools, parishes and retreat centres began at the service of a growing Catholic population in Victorian society.
However, these times have changed; and although the Church is now growing strongly in parts of the globe which were formally seen as ‘mission territories’, the resources now available to the British Province in 2012 are a fraction of what were available in years gone by. I will share one fact with you that hopefully will illustrate this: in the early 1960s the British Province numbered almost 1000 Jesuits; whereas today, scattered across the globe, there are fewer than 200 British Jesuits.”

As Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit pointed out, the number of British Jesuits has shrunk by almost 80% in less than a generation

As at 1st October 2011, the number of Jesuits in Britain was 189: 159 Priests; 16 Brothers; and 14 scholastics (training to be priests)

Only three novices were accepted in 2011

18 members of the Society work in the South Africa Region. 21 members of the Society work in the Guyana Region

In this connection, the annual accounts of the Jesuit Order in Britain in terms of The Society of Jesus Trust of 1929 for Roman Catholic Purposes (incorporating The Society of Jesus Trust of 1921 and the Society of Jesus Charitable Trust) can be inspected on the website of The Charity Commission forEngland and Wales

From the report of the Trustees one can see that there are also references to other Jesuit sponsored or linked Charities in Britain which are not included in the main Report and Accounts (e.g. St Aloysius Charitable Fund)

From the 2011 accounts, the Jesuits appear to be committing a great deal of their resources to Heythrop College in London. They seem to be betting the house on it

A note to the accounts says:
“Heythrop college was purchased in February 2009. 
£27.176m was paid in cash at the completion date. A further £10m is payable over a period of 5 years in £2m instalments with the first payment due in December 2009. 
At 30 September 2011, £9.5m was payable, £2m due within one year (shown in deferred creditors- amounts falling due within one year) and £7.5m is payable with 2- 5 years (shown in deferred creditor-amounts falling due over one year). 
Interest at 3.5% per annum will be charged on these amounts, totalling £1,330,000 of interest payable. This will be included in the accounts when due. 
A further amount of £3.5m is also payable as part of the purchase price. This is included as grants committed - creditors due over one year. This relates to the payment for St Catherine's House and is due when the current occupiers vacate the premises."
 Of the College, the Report states:
“The College, formerly the Jesuit seminary, receives substantial support in staff and other resources from the Trust. The intellectual apostolate of the Society in Britain is centred on Heythrop. Last year, over forty Jesuits from other Provinces come to study and live in London, which is now a Jesuit European centre for formation. 
Honorary Degrees were this year conveyed on Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Rt Rev. Professor Tom Wright, Rev. Kevin Fox SJ, and Rev. Roy Dorey”