When he met with Jesuits during his recent journeys to Colombia and then Myanmar and Bangladesh, Pope Francis referred to St. Peter Claver in a way that invites a new reading of the life of this saint. The expression used by the pope was charism, but he did not so much speak of the charism of Claver, but rather the pope presented the very person of Claver as a charism.
Claver made himself the “slave of the slaves,” becoming for them a real Paraclete – a counselor, advocate, intercessor. By his very life he prophetically denounced the social blindness of an era that had introduced the slavery of black people.
The pope stated: “There is a basic charism for the Colombian Jesuit: a person whose name is Peter Claver. I believe that God has spoken to us through this man.”
Then, using images, he described what strikes him most about Claver: “This impresses me. He was just a weak boy, a young Jesuit in formation, yet he spoke so much to the old porter. And the old man nourished his aspirations. How good it would be if the elderly in our Society were to step forward and the youth follow them: this would fulfill the words of Joel: ‘the elderly will dream and the young will prophesy’ (3:1). And so there is a need to prophesy, and to speak with the elderly.”