“Imagining our possibilities we become prophets of our own existence” (Paul Ricoeur)

Universal Apostolic Preferences

A Universal Preference gives a horizon, a point of reference, an orientation to the whole Society of Jesus.
It captures our imaginations, awakens our desires, and unites us in our service of mission.

“The universal apostolic preferences …have been above all the Society’s response to the needs of the Church….. They have expressed and should still express in concrete terms our readiness, as a universal apostolic body, to work beneath the banner of the cross, to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff. Thus, apostolic preferences create for us the tension of seeking the most universal good as the ultimate goal of the numerous apostolic activities the Society carries out.

Moreover, as we continually renew our interior freedom through the spiritual life we share with other Jesuits and with our companions in the mission, the universal apostolic preferences become a horizon for the discernment in common which helps to guide and orient the apostolic planning of the Society’s resources at all levels.

The universal apostolic preferences, therefore, have been and are precisely what their name signifies: points of reference for the whole Society, that inspire its discernment in common and its apostolic planning at all levels of our life-mission. At the same time they are a guide for restructuring the Society’s governance and for creating working networks, both among ourselves and with others, in this same ministry of reconciliation.

We are all too well aware of the disproportion between the needs of humanity which the Church seeks to meet and the resources we have at hand. The preferences provide us guidance about how to use those resources effectively, without dispersing them, so that they serve the greater glory of God, which has been the Society’s aim since its foundation. The preferences do not establish a hierarchy of the needs of humanity or of the Church, but they do indicate the best ways for the Society to make use of the resources it has available for the service of Christ’s reconciling mission in the world.

our rapidly changing world, a set of universal apostolic preferences is valid for a reasonable amount of time. Using sociopolitical analysis, theological-pastoral reflection, and discernment in common, the Society at its diverse levels stays constantly attentive to the changes that take place in human society and to the Church’s responses and efforts to make the Good News of the Gospel present in the new social situations.

Extract from a letter of Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ, 3 October, 2018.



Jesuits have been present in Africa since the time of St. Ignatius of Loyola. More than four centuries later Jesuit apostolic activities continue to register a strong impact on the lives of Africans in various domains ranging from education to spirituality, pastoral care to social apostolates. At present close to 1,600 Jesuits work in over thirty countries in Africa. The majority are Africans who have taken up the mantle of evangelization with passion, energy and creativity in service of the mission of Christ in the universal Society. Jesuits in Africa are opening up new apostolic frontiers in response to the calls of the General Congregations for faith and justice; interreligious dialogue and inculturation; for reconciliation, justice and peace. As servants of the mission of Christ, Jesuits are vital partners in Africa’s quest for progress, for human flourishing and the search for “divine life at the depths of reality” (GC35, D.2, No.8).



The Society recognises the vital importance of China in our world:

“China has become of central importance not only for East Asia but for the whole of humanity. We want to continue our respectful dialogue with its people, aware that China is an important key for a peaceful world and has great potential for enriching our faith tradition, as many of its people long for a spiritual encounter with God in Christ.” (GC35, D.3, No.39)


Intellectual Apostolate

The search for a deeper understanding has been an important priority of the Society of Jesus ever since Jesuits first went to the Council of Trent to try to understand those of different perspectives. This tradition is alive among Jesuits right up to the present day. It involves theological and philosophical study as well as research, teaching and writing in sciences such as astronomy, physics, botany, social sciences. Today our work in higher education, our cultural reviews and our research centres all try to foster depth.

In fact, the intellectual apostolate is a dimension of all our apostolates. Our parishes and our schools; our social centres and spirituality centres all try to reflect on their work in an in-depth way so that Jesuits and their partners in mission can find God at work in our world and respond to emerging cultural and religious challenges.


Migrants, Refugees and forcibly displaced people

Today there are over 200 million people are living outside their country of origin for a variety of reasons. Migration is a symptom of deep problems in our societies. It shows that for so many people, the world system is not working either because of corruption; economic disparity; war or violence. People are suffering. They are voting with their feet to build better lives for themselves and their children. They suffer hardships and many dangers. We reach out to them no matter what their faith background, for in the cry of the poor, we see the face of the suffering Christ.

Over 22 million people are refugees today, and more than 40 million people are displaced within their own countries due to conflict and natural disasters. The Jesuit Refugee Service is our specialised outreach to refugees and the forcibly displaced.

In almost all parts of the world Jesuits, with dedicated collaborators, have the privilege of working with migrants, refugees and other forcibly displaced people. We want to help them to make choices that improve their lives, to fight for their rights and to claim new opportunities. The Gospel demands no less than this.


International Universities and Institutes in Rome

The Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Pontifical Biblical Institute together educate about 3,400 students. Students come from over 150 countries.

In this rich multicultural context, they have a chance to interact with each other; to learn from each other; to be challenged across cultural boundaries; to expand their horizons; to deepen their love of Jesus Christ; to grow in knowledge and appreciation of the Gospel message, to experience the universality of the Church.

Subjects range from Social Science to Philosophy; from Theology to Politics; from Spirituality to Psychology. Through them we are helping to build the Church of the future, forming leaders with vision, inspiration, courage and creativity.

In addition the Society is responsible for the Vatican Observatory, a key interface of Faith and Science and many Jesuits work in support of Vatican Radio, part of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.