Friday, January 25, 2008

Status of the Jesuits

Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., the new superior general of the Jesuits, insists that there is no conflict between the order and the Pope. I'm not so sure he really sees what is happening. I have a couple articles about his press conference.

Fr. Nicolas’ statement included some brief stories and anecdotes illustrating his long pastoral experience in Asia. "I am in Asia and Asia is in me, and that is good for the Church," he said.

"There has never been and there is not opposition between the Pope and the Society of Jesus, between the Jesuits and the Vatican," Fr. Nicolas said in his statement.

"It is not true that there is a theological distance between the new General of the Jesuits and Pope Ratzinger," he added.

Asia is in him. I hope that doesn't mean new-age eastern theology is in him. Also, can he really say that there has never been opposition between the Pope and the Jesuits? Does he forget the Jesuit Intervention in 1981?

Rome, Jan. 25, 2008 ( - In a January 25 statement to reporters in Rome, the new superior general of the Society of Jesus said that the Jesuits remain loyal to the Pope. "If there are problems" in the relationship, he said, "it is precisely because we are so close."

Father Adolfo Nicolas compared the relationship between the Jesuit order and the Holy See to a marriage, observing there are always tensions between loving couples. But as in a marriage, he added, the Jesuits and the Pope are wholly dedicated to the same goal: the welfare of the Church.

Downplaying suggestions that the Jesuit order is at loggerheads with Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), Father Nicolas recalled that he had studied the works of then-Father Joseph Ratzinger years earlier and found them inspirational. Theological disagreements between himself and the Holy Father, he insisted, exist only "in the imaginations of those who have written" on that topic. The new Jesuit leader told journalists that his own views on religion have been heavily influenced by his years in Japan. Before serving in Asia, he said, he had firm and unyielding views about what constitutes proper religious faith and practice. In Japan, he reported, such attitudes are seen as intolerant; the Asian approach accepts a wide diversity of views. "In Japan," Father Nicolas said, "I discovered that true religion goes much deeper."

I see that, yes, "proper religious faith and practice" can indeed take on many forms. Even the Pope has said this. This is why we have the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is why there are so many popular devotions. I worry, though, when I see words like "accepting a diversity of views". If our language hadn't been hijacked, this would not be a problem, but the connotations of this tend to be a bit more permissive than they should mean. I hope he realizes that there exists One True religion. This is another place where some Jesuits have had troubles, in the uniqueness and necessity of Christ.

I've heard about Jesuits before, and I don't buy that it is because "they are so close" that the CDF has to send out notifications about members of the Order.

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