Thomas BANCHOFF and José CASANOVA, editors. The Jesuits and Globalization: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Challenges. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2016, viii + 299 pp., ISBN: 978-1-62616-286-0, $32.95, paperback. Reviewed by Patrick J. HAYES, Redemptorist Archives of the Baltimore Province, Philadelphia, PA.
In 1540, the year it gained papal approval, the “Formula of the Institute” told of the primary purpose of the Society of Jesus. Jesuits were founded, it said, “to strive especially for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine and the propagation of the faith.” In the long process of self-evaluation of these singular aims, generations of Jesuits have come to different determinations about how they ought to structure their life and mission in relation to the cultures in which they have found themselves. How might one be a Jesuit, say, where Christians are in the minority? How might they stress how to be holy for those in seventeenth-century China, eighteenth-century Cuzco, or twentieth-century Germany? How is the efficacy of their mission determined—on the Indian reservation, in refugee camps, or the university classroom?
The essays gathered in this collection represent and try to answer a wide range of questions on how this global order has in some ways become internationalized because of circumstances directed at it, but also has contributed to the profound interconnections that bind cultures together throughout the world. One gets the sense that Jesuits have performed their mission insofar as the boundaries of the imagination have let it. Typically, barriers have come through political intrigues, such as those that led to the expulsion of Jesuits from every Catholic kingdom, culminating in the suppression of the Society in 1773. With its re-constitution in 1814, the remnants from Russia increased in number and became once again a powerful tool in the evangelical arsenal, showing at once their willingness to go into inhospitable places, suffer ignominy, and adapt to and support the best of local aspirations, primarily through educational offerings.
Thirteen chapters by sociologists, historians, and practitioners describe the links between the Jesuits and global society and their mutual influences. The book is in two parts—one historical, the other blending a reading of political, economic, and social challenges. Essays emerged from a three-year project based at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. For historians, the emergence of the Society’s missionary thrust, its astute and candid relations of local cultural circumstances, and the fearlessness by which encounter and dialogue has guided them, shine through several of the contributions. Not all of this activity has gone smoothly. Indeed, rabid anti-Jesuitism—and this on a near universal scale—has checkered their past as much as added to the legend of the Society. For some fine work on the history of the propaganda wars waged against Jesuits, the two essays of Sabina Pavone and John McGreey deserve special praise. An important qualifier to their work, however, lies in an essay by Aliocha Maldavsky, who establishes how and to what degree Jesuits have participated in the hegemonic project of colonialism in various parts of the world.
Area studies include analyses of social justice trends in Latin America, human development in Asia, and the problems created by human mobility as seen through the lens of Jesuit Relief Services. Among the most important lines in the volume may be found in the summary essay by Thomas Banchoff, where he quotes the Jesuit superior general, Father Pedro Arrupe. Speaking before a group of alumni in Valencia in July 1973, he posed a rhetorical question: “Have we Jesuits educated you for justice?” His reply was in the negative—at least not to the extent that the rich tradition of the Church demanded. This would change, and over the next generation, the expense of Jesuit talent at eradicating systemic poverty or accompanying many of the world’s most vulnerable members, was given priority.Today it is not a small matter that about a million people graduate each year around the world from Jesuit-led or -inspired institutions of higher learning. That is a powerful leaven in society and makes for strong connective tissue between cultures, languages, and hopes. The collection provides a high-grade prism through which to view Jesuit activity (which now cannot be seen in isolation from lay collaborators, both women and men) as it shapes global society and, in turn, responds to those social forces that demand discernment.