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Pope Francis, S.J.?

On the America blog, James Martin, S.J., raises the issue whether Pope Francis remains a Jesuit. His conclusion is:

So yes, traditionally, the Pope is still considered a Jesuit.

Perhaps "traditionally" could be parsed: "in his heart of hearts."However, there is an interesting comment to the post which might be deemed a "fraternal correction." Jim McDermott, S.J. suggests:

When the Pope was first made a bishop, he was released from his Jesuit vows of poverty and obedience to his religious superior. At this point, canonically he left the Society....To say he was no longer a Jesuit canonically is not to say Jesuits shunned him or even thought of him as anything less than a brother, or that he thought of himself as no longer a Jesuit. As you point out, he signs his name with an S.J. The General likewise has referred to him in this way.But all of that is a matter of respect and as you say tradition, not law. No longer obedient to the General, he is not canonically a Jesuit.

The first Jim seems to concede the second Jim's point when he writes:

Yes, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus is obedient to Pope Francis, not the other way around.

Speaking neither as a canonist nor a member of a religious order, I would prefer that when members of religious orders accepted episcopal ordination and responsibility, they would no longer use the identifying initials of their former religious communities after their names. If the Bishop of Rome will no longer put "S.J." after his name (or "O.P." or "O.F.M."), neither should other bishops.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Spoken as a diocesan priest....... but harsh?

I agree Father. It does not seem logical to me that a member of a religious order would maintain their status in the order. The episcopal structure of the Church pre-dates by far the development of religious orders and arguably even the development of Christian monasticism.Also, many orders, as far as I understand them, prohibit their members from accessing higher offices. My understanding that this was historically the case with the Jesuits in particular. Obviously, for a variety of reasons this has changed and there are Dominicans, Fransicans, Jesuits, etc. who are bishops and cardinals.I recall a Jesuit friend of mine who is no longer in the city, many years ago, saying that if a Jesuit become a bishop they are released from the vows of the order including, among other things, the need to to provide a yearly manifestation of conscience to their superior. He was fairly new as well so this information was current.I think the carrying of the brand of the order is more a courtesy and an acknowledgement of their formative community as opposed to having formal allegiance to it.

I think it is better to be a Jesuit than a pope. So my vote goes to the new Pope keeping the SJ and just being released from his vow of obedience.

Check out Canon 705, which a reader pointed me to. It notes that a bishop "remains a member of his institute."

Check out this moving video which captures the moment when the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist first learn of the new pope.Absolutely beautiful!

Thanks, Fr. Martin - always good to correct a diocesan priest. OTOH, can think of some communities that would be happy if certain bishops followed Fr. Imbelli's point...e.g. OMI's with Francis George; what about Opus Dei and Gomez?And after all of the hype around Cdl. O'Malley and his Franciscan roots.Does it really matter in the end?

how about Opus Dei bishops/ cardinals??

Obedience is a bit more than following orders. From what I read of Ignatian spirituality (and that of many other religious communities) not to mention discernment, this discipline is about a bit more than a conservative view of following orders without question, no matter how silly.Pope Francis chooses to adhere to an Ignatian tradition, and his brothers allow for the discernment of a greater good. I have no problem with that.Suppose a Jesuit, or some other vowed religious is off on retreat or sleeping in bed, even. Does the person cease being a Jesuit (or whatever) because at that moment they are not being explicitly "obedient" to a superior's orders? The Jesuits have their heads around this, I'm sure. Also sure it's not a big deal for them or their/our Bishop of Rome.

Here's the text of Canon 705, mentioned by Fr. Martin:"Can. 705 A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition."Canon 706 deals with money matters and Canon 707 deals with liiving in retirement. Cardinal O'Malley signs letters "Cardinal Sen P. O'Malley, OFM Cap" and seems to wear his Franciscan robes about 98% of the time when he is not celebrating Mass or other sacraments.

It seems strange to pretend that a man who becomes bishop is no longer the man who was formed by his religious community. Perhaps that's why Cardinal Francis George still hangs on to the OMI. Probably best to leave it up to the the bishop.

(Aside: Now I remember who Francis looks like: Alec Guinness:-)

I appreciate the comments, both canonical and non-canonical.Of course, the person chosen bishop brings the weight of the formation received when he assumes a new ecclesial role and responsibility -- as do we all.Further, there is nowhere, in either the "America" exchange or in my post, the suggestion that the vow of obedience consists in "a conservative view of following orders without question, no matter how silly." Speaking of "silly!"Rather, the "discernment" of the individual that leads to the free acceptance of the new identity and responsibility that comes with episcopal ordination is at the heart of my concern.Thus let me express the basis of my "preference" expressed in the post. I think that the unity of the presbyterate of a diocese is better signified and served, absent indications of previous more particular attachments. And I repeat that, in my view, this applies universally, whether to members of the Jesuits, the Capuchins, or the Salesians. Have I covered the major players?

But the presbyterate will always know that the bishop has been formed in a particular religious community. What does dropping the suffix achieve? Would it achieve more unity than declaring that the new bishop is now from the local church even though everyone knows he's an outsider?

"What does dropping the suffix achieve?"As a sacramental community, signs matter, even relatively small ones. I think dropping the suffix signifies more clearly: episcopus Ecclesiae Catholicae.Speaking of which, glad to see you up early exercising your own episcopal responsibilities!

As far as I'm concerned F,S.J. replaces B16 in papal shorthand. To paraphrase Grant in a way he may not aqree with, being consecrated a bishop alters the mark on the soul; it doesn't change the soul.

Is there any rule that says these papal ambassadors have to be bishops and Cardinals? Could we have some papal ambassadors that are women? Or does that violate some Church law?

As a sacramental community, signs matter, even relatively small ones. I think dropping the suffix signifies more clearly: episcopus Ecclesiae Catholicae.Then you would prefer that Cardinal O'Malley put away his brown Franciscan habit? I was hoping that if he were elected Pope he would continue wearing it as often as he does now.

John Hayes,fair question; honest answer: "yes."(Reason given @6:55).

Ann Olivier wrote "Aside: Now I remember who Francis looks like: Alec Guinness:-)"That's a thought. Someone else said he looked like Junior Soprano (Dominic Chianese)Alec Guinness was a Catholic:

RobertUnity in diversity?

JH,of course, but the bishop symbolizes the unity.

Msgr. John K. Ryan, the old Dean of CU's School of Philosophy, said that use of an order's initials was just a form of advertising.

Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Confused - why does a religious communities' customs, charisms, spirit, even initials need to be set aside when they answer to a church call to episcopal leadership? But, then, I can't stand bishops who sign their name with D.D. - which means what really?

I disagree. If a bishop is to be required to drop all public affiliation to his religious order, and be absorbed into the secular clergy, it could be argued that this is asserting the superiority of the secular clergy over the religious.

Would anyone say Pope Francis is a former Jesuit? And what if, like Benedict, he retires? Will he become a Jesuit again?

These are grave questions. Summon another council!

No one has mentioned that the new pope has omitted PP after his signature.Maybe he'll go easy on all initials, if he can't have the sj!

Would anyone say Pope Francis is a former Jesuit? And what if, like Benedict, he retires? Will he become a Jesuit again?In Addition to Canon 705 which says"A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute", Canon 706 says that "A religious Bishop 'emeritus' may choose to reside outside the house of his institute, unless the Apostolic See disposes otherwise."Without Canon 706, a Jesuit bishop would not have any choice other than to move to a Jesuit residence if he retires. Sure sounds as if he is still a Jesuit. Whether he writes SJ after his name may depend on whether he is publishing a book as "Jorge Bergoglio, S.J." or issuing a Motu Proprio as "The Supreme Pontiff, Francis"I wonder how he would sign a letter to his local people in the diocese of Rome. "Jorge Bergoglio S. J., Vescovo di Roma"?

I bet laity would support keeping S.J. and OFM etc. 3 to 1.

I'm reminded of the understanding that a bishop is "wedded" to his diocese. On this point, Richard McBrien has a short article, "The transfer of bishops", at his website:'m with Professor Imbelli in light of the fact that canon law once prohibited the transfer of bishops. The bishop, religious or secular, becomes a member of a *new* community.

Joseph J.,Indeed -- like John D'Arcy, the bishop emeritus of Fort Wayne-South Bend who went home to die in the diocese to which he was wed.

Interesting question, but strikes me as a minor point.Dropping the "S.J." makes Pope Francis seem less partisan, assuming there is partisanship of some sort in the Jesuits.Flip side, keeping S.J. is sort of like truth in advertising; it reminds people that he has been affiliated with the Jesuits. For whatever anyone might be able to assume from that affiliation. Which is ... what? Is there a whiff of jesuistry in the S.J. still?

And you guys accuse the Scholastics of splitting hairs!

Not me, Ann, not me!

I bet laity would support keeping S.J. and OFM etc. 3 to 1.

Not sure about that. I had an acquaintance ask me what is a Jesuit? And we actually go to a parish staffed by Jesuits! I was curious how our priest would handle it. And he did not even mention it. Of course these men are older and have been embedded in the native community for decades here. My observation is that after awhile, and as the ministry deepens, these kinds of distinctions fade and the priest becomes more of a servant and minister to the community. The community is more interested in baptisms, marriages, masses, prayer groups and counsel for all of the various troubles that arise.

Whether Pope Francis puts an SJ after his name is immaterial. He is a Jesuit and will always be a Jesuit. He has not formally lived in the Society since his ordination to the episcopacy, but he never ceased being a Jesuit. Formed by the Spiritual Exercises, he cannot jettison that part of his deeper identity. As a former Jesuit, I have not given up that part of my identity. Even though i left the Society 15 years ago, I still pray as a Jesuit, think as a Jesuit, love as a Jesuit, teach as a Jesuit, and discern as Jesuit. I no longer write SJ after my name, but it is still imprinted on my soul. I would not want it to be any other way. And neither would my wife and son. Each of them is formed in Ignatian spirituality; we are a jesuit family. That, I believe is the power of Ignatian spirituality. It never leaves you, and it always grow as you do.

"I still pray as a Jesuit, think as a Jesuit, love as a Jesuit, teach as a Jesuit, and discern as Jesuit."How is that different from praying, thinking, loving, teaching, and discerning as a Catholic?

I wonder how Francis' interest in the CL movement impacts his Jesuit spirituality.

Jean,you anticipated my question ... and my concern.

Jean RaberIt is something to be experienced rather than explained. I invite you to make the Spiritual Exercises to find out.

It is praying, thinking, loving, teaching and discerning as a Catholic, as are many other ways of thinking, loving teaching and discerning. Some laypeople will do it one way, some another. Some priests will do it as members of a diocese, as associates of a bishop. Others will do it as they learned in their religious institute. Some sisters will do it like their brothers in the same institute, though not as Jesuits.But all of them, in their different ways, think, love, teach and discern as Catholics.

"Thus let me express the basis of my preference expressed in the post. I think that the unity of the presbyterate of a diocese is better signified and served, absent indications of previous more particular attachments."Fr. Imbelli, and others who would know: I'm told that the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday is the liturgical sign par excellence of the unity of the presbyterate of a diocese with its bishop. Do the religious order priests of a diocese also attend that mass - perhaps those in religious orders who staff a parish? (I recall, a number of years ago, reading that one of the Latin Mass religious orders - it may have been the Institute of Christ the King - objected to attending the Chrism Mass because it is always celebrated using the Missal of Paul VI, but that they were overruled for reason of the sign of unity that the Chrism Mass represents.) If I am thinking about this right, then the unity between priests and bishops of a diocese seems "wide" enough to include within its embrasure at least those religious-order priests who are also serving the diocese. And it seems to me that this sign of unity that is able to overcome the lines of demarcation between diocesan and religious order priests, may help us think about a bishop who is also a member of a religious order; a bishop like Cardinal O'Malley or Archbishop Gomez might be able to both serve the diocese and maintain his religious order identity, without compromising the unity of each. Just a thought.

"How is that different from praying, thinking, loving, teaching, and discerning as a Catholic?"Alan can answer this better than I, but I'd like to jump in here to speak as someone who believes that Jesuit spirituality is a great gift to the Church, and has been a vibrant part of my own experience of Catholicism.I think what we are talking about here is the reality of a spiritual tradition: it has an enduring strength when it has shaped how one prays. Without pretending to go into detail here or to speak as an authority, I think it's generally agreed that there are some distinctive aspects of the Spiritual Exercises as a discipline -- prayer using the senses (imagining one's self in the stories of Scripture), Ignatian methods of discernment, the idea of "finding God in all things," the "first principle and foundation" and more. The exercises are about gaining the freedom necessary to follow Christ's call. There's a very profound grounding in vocation and mission here, which is disciplined yet flexible enough to allow someone to go and do things that haven't been done before, like, say, evangelize China. Is this "different" from being a Catholic? It's not something "apart" from being Catholic. It's very Catholic. But it's a distinctive tradition, a spirituality, a rich reservoir of tools and experiences and mentoring for being Catholic, just as a Benedictine spirituality or a Franciscan spirituality can be part of the fabric of being Catholic. Benedictines or Franciscans aren't "different" from Catholics, they are part of Catholicism.Because there's a way of doing the Exercises that is adapted to the lives of lay people (called the nineteenth annotation), there is also a growing number of people who although not Jesuits are grateful to have experienced the Exercises and shared in Jesuit spirituality.Bob, why would this concern you?

Rita FerroneThank you. I could not ave said it better.

When a man and woman marry, is not the woman taking the man's last name a sign? Indeed, isn't that why some women do not?

Mark ProskaA sign of what? Be careful how you answer.

Ah, those letters S.J. How about this, from the recently published Robert McAfee Brown: Spiritual & Prophetic Writings: In 1964, the University of San Francisco was going to give Brown an honorary doctorate.

The question came up: what degree would a Catholic university find fitting to give to a Protestant? As Bob had written, at that time it seemed that a "doctorate in theology" would have been out of the question. USF asked which degree he would prefer. Knowing it was really USF's choice, Bob quipped that perhaps, as one of the " separated brethren," and taking into account his journalistic writings [when he was an observer at] the Vatican Council, he could be given a degree titled "Separated Journalist," so that he could call himself "Robert McAfee Brown, S.J."

As Bob had written, at that time it seemed that a doctorate in theology would have been out of the question.Later, Santa Clara University gave him an STD. Things had quieted down by then.

Alan C. MitchellIf it did not signify something, why do women do it?

Jim P. @ 9:55,I agree with most of what you say. Certainly unity in diversity is what Catholic communion should be. Moreover, the bishops you mention can certainly serve the unity of the presbyterate and the Church, whatever their formational background. The "preference" which I expressed is that their unique charism and responsibility of representing unity might be better signified by leaving behind the outward signs of their previous, more particular, affiliation and commitment -- a "kenosis" if you will in the service of their new ministry.However, my consideration is not an apodictic argument, but one of "fittingness" ("ex convenientia" as Aquinas would say). So, if others are not persuaded by it, "pace e bene" and blessed Palm Sunday!

"... there are some distinctive aspects of the Spiritual Exercises as a discipline prayer using the senses (imagining ones self in the stories of Scripture), Ignatian methods of discernment, the idea of 'finding God in all things,' the 'first principle and foundation' and more. The exercises are about gaining the freedom necessary to follow Christs call."Don't we need more people like this in the Church? Couldn't discussion of the Jesuit tradition spark interest in flagging Catholics? (Thank you, Rita, for answering my question seriously and not blowing me off with "try it yourself.")

"Dont we need more people like this in the Church? Couldnt discussion of the Jesuit tradition spark interest in flagging Catholics?"Jean -- from your lips to God's ears! This would be a wonderful outcome indeed.

Maybe we should ask the Pope how he would like to sign his own name.

A possible scenario for 2020...Pope Francis shocked the world today when he announced his retirement at age 83 saying that he simply did not have the physical and psychological energies required for the duties of the pope. As Pope Benedict XVI, surprising strong after his abdicatiion eight years ago and -although feeble- generally regarded as mentally competent, continues to live in his aparetment with round the clock nursing care, where Pope Francis will reside and what his relationship will be with the to be elected and past Pope is unknown in this unprecedented situation of soon to be three Popes... The story lines are immense, but this is not completly implausible....

A blessed trinity of Popes?

Sorry to enter this conversation so late in the game. I may have missed it, but I don't recall anyone actually referencing the Jesuit vow "formula" in this thread, and I think that from a purely pastoral standpoint, it is instructive for this conversation. The perpetual vows of a Jesuit include the following words, among the most beautiful in the english language: "I vow to your divine Majesty, before the most holy Virgin Mary and the entire heavenly court, perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I promise that I will enter this same Society to spend my life in it forever. I understand all these things according to the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Therefore, by your boundless goodness and mercy, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, I humbly ask that you judge this total commitment of myself acceptable. And as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it."I addition to their beauty, they are also binding. When I myself was discerning a vocation to the Jesuits, I re-read those vows to myself hundreds of times, and was never confident that I could live up to them - particularly their permanent nature. To say to a man who has lived up to these vows that he should no longer be bound by them because he has been called to the episcopacy seems to me that it could be such a huge blow to that individual - and the religious congregation to which he belongs - that he should certainly not accept his canonical election as a bishop (even the Bishop of Rome). Since I do not believe this is the best alternative, I firmly believe that all bishops in religious orders should maintain their status in their religious communities. In fact, this should make it even easier to see the complementary nature between the secular and religious clergy, and between the episcopacy and the presbyterate. Thanks for calling our attention to this very interesting matter, Father Imbelli.

" I firmly believe that all bishops in religious orders should maintain their status in their religious communities."To put into words the obvious objection, or at least complication, though: religious orders have their own hierarchies, and when a religious-order priest is made diocesan bishop, I don't believe that elevates his formal status within the order. The possibility for conflict seems pretty clear. Can a bishop who is a religious-order priest, rule a pastor of a parish in his diocese, when the pastor also happens to be his religious-order provincial superior? I don't know if such a situation ever occurred in real life, but it doesn't seem beyond the bounds of possibility. Perhaps the various duties and responsibilities can be untangled and separated in such a way that in matter A, the bishop as diocesan ordinary prevails, but in matter B, the provincial superior prevails.

Can a bishop who is a religious-order priest, rule a pastor of a parish in his diocese, when the pastor also happens to be his religious-order provincial superior? Canon 705 says that the bishop's vow of obedience now runs to the Pope rather than his religious-order superior."Can. 705 A religious who is raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute, but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by his vow of obedience. He is not bound by obligations which he prudently judges are not compatible with his condition."

As an only one year subscriber to Commonweal, I am still in the process of getting to know the various contributors and readers. I was surprised and pleased to read the comment by the esteemed Fr James Martin SJ. My own introduction to Catholicism came when I worked two summers as an orderly (nurses aid) in two different Catholic hospitals, run by Sisters of Mercy and Charity, respectively. The former, particularly, took a personal interest in me and treated me with great kindness, as well as providing attentive and tender hands on care to our patients. There is some genuine bonding which goes on when caregivers team up to care for, clean, and change the sheets of patients who are desperately ill, unconscious, and/or dying. I say the above, because Fr. Martin has become a genuine hero of mine, regarding his advocacy of on behalf of the LCWR. Perhaps the most vocal counterweight to Fr. Martin's positions regarding the LCWR have been those of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, e.g.'m currently a convert working my way through the adult confirmation process. I have to say that I am appalled by the snarky, derisive, Rush Limbaugh-style tone of Fr. Zuhldorf's writings. Tone deaf to the parable of the shepherd and the sheep, Fr. Zuhldorf can't even allow Catholics to experience a moment of shared unity in celebrating the possibilities of a thus-far promising new papacy.In contrast, I was heartened by the gracious tone of Bishop Dolan:Dolan said: "I think the greatest thing he's going to bring is to say to everybody `Be not afraid. We're friends. We're on this journey together. We can speak openly to one another. We both have things to learn. We both have changes we need to make and let's serve one another best by being trusting and charitable yet honest to one another."' have no interest whatsoever in whether or not Pope Francis retains the initials of his particular religious order. That's not at all important. What is important is solving the administrative challenges, dealing with the cancer of abuse and cover ups, and unifying the worldwide Church, guided by the principles of the Pope's namesake. If he does that, then that will be vastly more important than eliminating all vestiges of deviation from orthodoxy, which seems to be Fr. Z's main concern.- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

Like a cop, once a Jesuit always a Jesuit. Once your instilled with Jesuit spirituality, hard as you or others try you aint getting rid of it, Pope Francis SJ will always be a Jesuit in mind, body and spirit. Want something done, hard or easy call on a Jesuit.

I'm still curious about Francis' CL connection and how that interacts with being Jesuit ..."Over the years, Bergoglio became close to the Comunione e Liberazione movement founded by Italian Fr. Luigi Giussani, sometimes speaking at its massive annual gathering in Rimini, Italy. He's also presented Giussani's books at literary fairs in Argentina. This occasionally generated consternation within the Jesuits, since the ciellini once upon a time were seen as the main opposition to Bergoglio's fellow Jesuit in Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini." - John Allen ... this about CL from Allen in 2005 -

Crystal --Thanks for the Allen article. Hmm. CL is starting to look quite dark indeed. Matthew Fox wrote somewhere that it is a fascist organization, but he sometimes exaggerates badly. I wonder where the truth lies.At any rate, it seems that CL is more interested in social issues, viz., the poor, and than in the personal moral issues that have split the Church in recent years. I just hope it is Frances' love of the poor that attracts him to them and not their apparent psychological intransigence. They strike me as thoroughly fundamentalist. They could be both, of course.What makes me wonder about it most is its supposedly amorphous structure (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one). You cannot belong to it officially because it has no official structure, apparently, yet within it there are thoroughly organized groups, e.g., orders of priests and of celibate lay people. Is there some informal structure behind all of this? If so, why be secretive about it?

Ann: you might appreciate the very limited structure of the Community of Sant'Egidio. I have visited them twice and each time the spokesperson emphasized that they welcome all participants but it is essentially a lay organization. The Vatican has officially recognized the Community of Sant'Egidio as a public lay association.Clergy are welcome to participate but any leadership role they might play within the community is subject to election (as applies to anyone) and there is not automatic deference to the thoughts or ideas of the clergy.How that works is a bit unclear to me because I was told that membership is voluntary: show up and work at will. The person with whom I spoke indicated that there is no such thing as an official membership list. It is not secretive as much as that it appears to be loosely structured.BTW, Sant'Egidio exists in the US albeit in small, fledgling mostly prayer groups, in Boston, Manchester, NH, 4 locations in Minnesota, New York, South Bend and Washington, DC.

Actually, it is work and pray communally at will.

Ann,I know someone who belongs to CL - he gave me this link for those who want to know more ... think its roots are in anti-Marxism, which may also attract Francis, but I'm not sure about the modern movement. I do wonder how one combines Ignatian spirituality and CL spirituality.

Jim, Thanks. From what I've read the Sant'Egidio movement is more oriented to hands-on help for the poor, while CL is oriented more towards political action. The latter even has a strong sub-group in one of the big Italian political parties. Somehow my American soul is suspicious of that sort of action. A political party without a leader is an invitation to a demagogue to take over. I dunno.Crystal, Thanks to you too. I don't know much about either kind of spirituality. To tell the whole truth, the Jesuits have always sort of turned me off too. They do some great work, but they tend to be know-it-alls. (OK, so that sort of generalization is really obnoxious, but there's some truth in it. Let's just say that a noticeable number of Jesuits are inclined to be a tad too self-confident.)

Ann,Heh :) Actually Jesuit spirituality is the kind I practice so I have a bit of knowledge about it and I've come to know a few Jesuits, but I don't really know anything about CL.

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