Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, of Venezuela, was elected the 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus at the Jesuits’ General Congregation 36 (GC 36) on October 14, 2016, in Rome. Fr. Sosa leads the Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church.
Fr. Sosa, who previously served as Delegate of the General for the International Houses and Works of the Society of Jesus in Rome, was elected by the 212 Jesuit electors at the General Congregation, the supreme governing body of the Society. He succeeds Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, 80, who resigned after serving as Superior General since 2008.
Fr. Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on November 12, 1948. Raised in a Catholic family that valued academics, he remembers being encouraged to “open up to the world, to study languages.” His father was a lawyer/economist who took his son on business trips. They would arrive in a new city and ride the trolley so young Arturo could open his eyes to “an ever-greater reality so that I would not remain enclosed in what I already knew.”
He entered the Society of Jesus in September 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the Catholic University Andrés Bello in Caracas, a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He was provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Venezuela from 1996 to 2004.
As the rector of the Universidad de Frontera in Tachira, 600 miles from Caracas near the border with Colombia, Fr. Sosa worked on an apostolic project that brought people together on both sides of the border. He also helped organize Jesuit universities in Latin America into an effective network to fight poverty and promote youth leadership. Fe y Alegría, which offers educational opportunities for the poor in 21 countries, was always a priority.
At only 34, he was elected as a delegate to the Jesuits’ General Congregation 33, the youngest delegate of that congregation; he also took part in GC 34 and GC 35. During GC 35, Fr. Sosa was named by his predecessor, Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, to a leadership role, helping to advise on matters related to the governance of the Society.
Fr. Sosa is quick to champion the need for collaboration, saying, “The Society of Jesus makes no sense without the collaboration of others … in many places we are still nostalgic about the days when we could do everything.”