Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal elected Superior General of the Jesuits

November 11, 2016
Venezuelan Jesuit Arturo Sosa Abascal was elected 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus on October 14, 2016, in Rome, at the conclusion of the 36th general congregation of Jesuits. At 67, he replaced Fr. Adolpho Nicolás, who had held the position since 2008. P. Arturo Sosa Abascal. P. Arturo Sosa Abascal (in the middle).

Since 2014 he was already an advisor to the former Superior General, responsible for “houses and interprovincial works” of the Society of Jesus in Rome. Former Provincial Superior for Venezuela (1996 – 2004), he was also rector for the Catholic University of Táchira there. Fr. Sosa Abascal speaks several languages and holds a doctorate in political science. He is also a former professor of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of some ten books on democracy and dictatorship in Venezuela in the 20th century and about “colonialism and emancipation” in his country. Elected by 2017 electors from 66 countries, he is the first Latin American at the head of his order. Commenting on this election on October 21, website Aleteia wrote that it “is representative of the new demographic dynamic of the Society of Jesus, which has been drawing more and more of its novices from the ‘South.’” It adds that “moreoever, Fr. Sosa Abascal was on excellent terms with his predecessor.” On October 16, French daily La Croix described him as a “recognized specialist on social and political issues” who “never stops at the theoretical level,” adding even that he has been “heavily involved in leftist politics.” To quote the Venezuelan press, he “defended, in 1992, the two coups d’etat of Hugo Chavez” before distancing himself from this position “in the following decade, because of his attacks on human rights.” American website Rorate Caeli published on October 19 a highly political portrait of the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The Venezuelan author of the article states that Fr. Sosa Abascal “has made of Marxism the lenses through which he sees everything including the Catholic Magisterium.” Sandro Magister stated on his blog on October 16 that, if Fr. Sosa Abascal had indeed written in 1978 that a “Marxist mediation of the Christian faith” was not only “legitimate” but “necessary,” it is still “difficult to say which among the theses he upheld at the time Fr. Sosa would still uphold today.” Nonetheless, the Roman Vaticanist concedes that it is startling “that the Jesuits have voted in for General Superior a confrere who, throughout his whole life, has written and debated exclusively on politics and social sciences.” (Sources: – – Rorate Caeli – La Croix – Aleteia – DICI no. 344, dated November 11, 2016)