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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.


Commenting Guidelines

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.