A saint for our times…and the future?

A saint for our times…and the future? Fr Pedro Arrupe
Pedro Aruppe SJ: Mystic with Open Eyes

by Brian Grogan SJ, with an introduction by Peter McVerry SJ (Messenger Publications, €4.95)

The cause of beatification of Fr Pedro Arrupe, the historical Superior General of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983, is now official.

In a letter to the Jesuits at large, the current superior Fr Artuso Sosa announced the proceedings that will formally open the cause of the ‘Servant of God’ Pedro Arrupe were to begin this year.

So the process of beatification and eventual canonisation of Pedro Arrupe, reformative general of the Society of Jesus is under way. But as is well known such a process can be a long one. But it is also a process which will lead to much discussion and much reflection.

The aim of Fr Brian Grogan in this short pamphlet is an important one. He wants to lay out for the ordinary reader the stages of Aruppe’s life, his achievements within the society and in the world, but without also alluding to the more difficult passages which the life of such a man must pass through.


There was especial hardship in Arrupe’s last years, after a calamitous stroke, during which his relations with St Pope John Paul II were strained. But there is a telling phrase in the last pages when the Pope admits to Arrupe, then in his very final days, that with regard to the Jesuits and their reactions to his wish to control the future of the order, “that he had been badly informed about the quality of their obedience”.

How often, alas, in so many ways, over so many centuries, have some in Rome sought to mislead the Pope.

Fr Grogan describes Arrupe’s origins and warm life with his family and his early years as a Jesuit when the order was expelled from Spain, Arrupe wanted to go to Japan, which has a leading place in the concepts of the Jesuits. This he eventually achieved. He was in Hiroshima when the atom bomb exploded over the city, killing many outright, leaving others maimed, others with a prospect of a long, slow death.

Hiroshima is an event which, in so many ways, has not been fully internalised by many people.

But it seems to have directed Arrupe’s outlook. He returned from Japan to be elected General in 1968, beginning the central years of his vocation. Those seeking to understand, even if only in a preliminary way, the life of a great man will gain from this booklet.

However, the reader is also asked to pause between sections to draw, from what they have read about Arrupe, insights into their own situation. In this way they will deepen their own understanding in their own way.

He alludes to the very scholarly book by Gianna La Bella which laid the foundation for a complete biography, but also to Kevin Burke’s Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings (Orbis 2004, still available at $US19.00). Fr Grogan says that there is no sign that the influence of Pedro Arrupe, as a model and mystic, is waning. So it is likely that many more books will appear, but this book, short as it is, provides readers with an essential groundwork for further reading and reflection, which will enable them to discern the signs of the times.