December 28, 2014 — After a life of dedicated service to the Church and the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau died at age 86 in Tokyo, Japan, on December 26. Pope Francis expressed his sorrow in a message to Father General Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, describing Archbishop Pittau as an “exemplary minister of God.”
Born in Sardinia, Italy, on October 20, 1928, Archbishop Pittau entered the Society in 1945. He studied philosophy at Sant Cugat in Barcelona, Spain, and was missioned to Japan in 1952. He spent two years studying the Japanese language at Sophia University in Tokyo.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1959 and then continued graduate studies in political science at Harvard University, where he received a doctorate. He returned to Japan in 1962 and taught at Sophia University; he was named rector of the university in 1975. In 1980, he was appointed provincial of the Japan Province.
In 1981, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to serve as coadjutor of Jesuit Father Paolo Dezza, who had been designated as Pontifical Delegate for the Society of Jesus after Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe suffered a stroke. Archbishop Pittau’s assignments in Rome extended through 2003, during which time he was called to serve in various roles in the governance of the Society.
During the Society’s General Congregation 33, Jesuit Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach appointed him as General Counselor. His other assignments included East Asia Regional Assistant, delegate of the Interprovincial Houses in Rome and rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.
On September 26, 1998, he received episcopal ordination, with the title of Archbishop of Castro, Sardinia, and the Holy Father appointed him Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He served the Holy See in various capacities: Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (1997); Consultant of the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Culture (1998); as Board Member of the Pontifical Health Services, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (1999); and Consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2000).
In 2003, he returned to his home province of Japan, where he continued various pastoral and teaching ministries. Pope Francis recalled Archbishop Pittau’s “generous missionary apostleship in Japan” and gave thanks for the service he rendered to the Apostolic See and for his dedication to the Society of Jesus. [Sources: Jesuit Curia, Vatican Radio]