Sunday, August 10, 2008

Arrupe and the Bomb

Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the deeply prayerful, justice-seeking General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from 1965 to 1983, was for many years a missionary in Japan. (Arrupe was Basque, just like the founder of the Society, Ignatius of Loyola.)

Fr. Arrupe was working as a missionary in Japan when war broke out with the United States and the Allies. While the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on December 7th in Hawaii, in Japan it was already December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Arrupe was saying mass when he was arrested and imprisoned for a time. His attitude of profound prayer (he would later describe it as one of his most transforming spiritual periods), his lack of offensive behaviour gained him the respect of his jailors and judges, and was set free in a month. He was appointed Jesuit superior and the master of novices in Japan in 1942.

He was living in suburban Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell in August of 1945. As a trained doctor he headed the first rescue party to arrive in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. He described that event as "a permanent experience outside of history, engraved on my memory." He utilized his medical skills in the service of the wounded and the dying, transforming the novitiate into a make-shift hospital for over 200 grievously scarred human remnants. He eventually was appointed the first Jesuit provincial for Japan (1958-65). [ Encyclopedia]

No comments: