Pope’s condolences for death of Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau SJ
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow and sent his condolences to his Jesuit brothers for the death of Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, SJ, who passed away on the night of December 26 in Kamishakujii, Tokyo.
Describing Archbishop Pittau as an “exemplary minister of God,” in his telegramme addressed to Father Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, Superior General of the Jesuit Order, the Pope recalls Pittau’s “generous missionary apostleship in Japan” and thanks God for the service he rendered to the Apostolic See and for how he dedicated himself to the Company of Jesus.
Please find below the translation of the text of the telegramme:
Reverend Father, having been informed to the passing away of His Excellency Monsignor Giuseppe Pittau, I wish to express my sincere condolences to you, to all his Jesuit brothers and to all those who grieve the death of an exemplary minister of God who lived for the cause of the Gospel. Recalling his generous missionary apostleship in Japan, where he ended his earthly life, I give thanks to the Lord for the service he rendered to the Apostolic See as Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education and for his work as President of Tokyo’s Sophia University as well as Rector of the Gregorian University in Rome and for his dedication to the Society of Jesus. Entrusting his soul to the maternal intercession of Our Lady I impart my Apostolic Blessing in the light of the Resurrection of Christ.
Born on the Italian Island of Sardinia in 1928, Giuseppe Pittau entered the Society of Jesus in 1945 and was ordained a priest in 1959. He arrived in Japan in 1952 as a Jesuit missionary, and spent most of his academic life at Sophia University.
In the words of those who knew him and worked with him he was an “intellectual, administrative, and spiritual giant”.
He played a very important role in the development of Sophia University. Among his lasting contributions were the democratic process of electing a President (voted not only by the faculty, but also by the staff), the increase in the number of students (from about 5,000 to 10,000), the addition or re-arrangement of several departments and faculties. Most admirable, according to many, was his foresight, arising from his dream of making Sophia a university that can significantly contribute to Japan by remaining faithful to its Jesuit/Catholic calling. He was especially interested in making Sophia an international university, bringing in not only European, Australian, and American professors but also Asian ones from countries like India, the Philippines, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.
After serving as President of Sophia University, Pittau moved on to become the Jesuit Provincial Superior of Japan, and it was in that capacity that he welcomed Saint Pope John Paul II to Japan in February 1981. When the hardworking Jesuit General Pedro Arrupe became incapacitated, the Pope personally requested Pittau to take over the reins of governing the Society of Jesus (together with the visually challenged Fr. Dezza). Pittau served the Church and the Society in several capacities, traveling to several countries and continents. He was bestowed the ecclesiastical rank of "Titular Archbishop of Castro di Sardegna" on July 11, 1998 and received the episcopal ordination on September 26, 1998.
After his international labors outside Japan were over, Archbishop Pittau returned to Sophia University and stayed at S. J. House, occasionally lecturing.