Jesuit General Congregation: vote to reaffirm “its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine”

This in from Zenit…  my emphases and comments.

Jesuits Affirm Obedience to Pope

General Congregation Approves 5 Decrees, Declaration

ROME, MARCH 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Obedience to the Pope and the magisterium of the Church is just one of the themes of the five decrees approved by the Jesuits upon concluding its 35th General Congregation.

The two-month meeting of 225 members of the Society of Jesus ended Thursday in Rome. The congregation closed the meeting with a Mass of thanksgiving at the tomb of its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the Church of the Gesù.

The congregation approved five decrees on 15 themes, and a declaration that affirms adherence to the letter Benedict XVI sent to then superior general Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach in January.

In the letter the Pope urged the congregation to reaffirm "its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine" in areas such as interreligious dialogue, liberation theology and sexual morality.

The declaration titled "With New Fervor and Dynamism, the Society of Jesus Responds to the Call of Benedict XVI," was approved by a large majority, reported L’Osservatore Romano.  [In other words... some voted against it.]

Father Adolfo Nicolás, elected Jan. 19 to succeed Fr. Kolvenbach, 79, as superior general, said to reporters Friday that the Jesuits’ tradition of fidelity and obedience never stopped them “in their theological research or in their way of living the Christian faith.”

“At the same time,” he noted, “we understood that we need more humility because conflicts and difficulties are what make us grow.”

On the traditional obedience of the order, Father Carlo Casalone, the Jesuit superior in Italy, explained that it is always accompanied by “many commonplaces” and is interpreted “in militaristic terms.”

“In reality, obedience understood as uncritical obedience to the will of another is not a virtue,” he observed, emphasizing that in reality it is a matter of “seeking the will of God together with another person, that is, seeking the good to be done.”

Father Nicolás, 71, also touched on the question of the resignation of Father Kolvenbach, who presented his resignation for reasons of age after having led the order since 1983.

“The Holy Father was near to Father Kolvenbach in his decision to step down,” Father Nicolás said, “so I think I will also have the same support when circumstances lead me to ask to resign.”

Decrees

One of the five decrees addressed the topic of obedience to the Pope and the special relationship that unites the Jesuits to the Successor of Peter.

Jesuit Father Tom Feely wrote on the Web page of the 35th Congregation: "Anyone who looks at the history of the Society will see that we have always understood our role of service in the Church in relation to the papacy.  [History?  How about present?]

"Therefore, the decree goes on to offer some reflections on living our relationship of obedience to the papacy today, especially with regard to our mission in the broadest sense."

The other decrees are dedicated to missions, the Jesuit identity, working with the laity and people of various faiths and the governance of the society.

L’Osservatore Romano explained that the decrees answer the 15 questions analyzed by the General Congregation, addressing missions and the internal life of the order.

With regard to missions, the Society identified several areas where the society would focus its attention, including Africa, China, the intellectual apostolate, international houses in Rome, and migrants and refugees.

With respect to the internal life of the order, particular attention was given to vocations — especially in Europe and North America — and to the formation of priests and brothers.

Other issues that were dealt with during the congregation included youth, indigenous populations, religious fundamentalism, communication in the Internet age and ecology.

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22 Responses to Jesuit General Congregation: vote to reaffirm “its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine”

  1. It’s a step in the right direction…Maybe they’ll get to the Jesuit ran universities here in the US next?

  2. bryan says:

    I didn’t know the Jesuits ran Catholic universities anymore?

    (tongue planted firmly in cheek as a survivor of the Company’s efforts to diminish the faith at Fordham in the 70s….)

  3. joe says:

    Now, let’s see if Fr. Nicolás actually manages to rectify some things or, in the words of an article in America Magazine, merely continues to “make reassuring noises” to the Holy See.

    AMDG,

    -J.

  4. The Jesuits better get their act together and put into practice what they are saying now, or they will be heading for a second suppression! In England they have practically vanished from Catholic life.

  5. Michael Garner says:

    Interesting that they had to take a vote on this matter, isn’t it?

  6. Dr. Joe Hoelscher says:

    The Jesuits will survive…. of course they had to discuss and vote on things…. the US Conference of Catholic Bishops does this every time they meet… nothing unusual or different.
    I have always admired the Jesuits as thinkers and doers, not afraid to think outside the box and not afraid to do things that need to be done or say things that need to be said to stimulate discussion.

  7. I WONDER HOW MANY MADE CERTAIN MENTAL RESERVATIONS? Overall a very sorry lot with a few exceptions.

  8. peretti says:

    Gee, I’m a Catholic first and a Dominican second. If the superior general of the order said “you know, this thing about Jesus being a divine person, I’m not so sure,” I’d kick that sucker in the knees and run to the pope so fast, it would make a heretic’s head spin off. Seems like the Jesuits have kicked us in the knees, and run to satan.

  9. TNCath says:

    I hate to sound pessimistic, but we’ve heard these same tired old lines before from not only the Jesuits but from many other religious orders the past 40 years. If you take a look at most of the constitutions/rules of religious orders, you will see very nicely written documents that say all the “right things” to insure their approval from the Congregation for Religious. Upon approval, they are then summarily ignored. I fear this will be the case with the “vote” of the Jesuits to “reaffirm ‘its total adhesion to Catholic doctrine.’”

    Father Carlo Casalone said “At the same time we understood that we need more humility because conflicts and difficulties are what make us grow.”

    Does that mean the Jesuits need to continue to be in conflict with and have difficulties with the Church and/or the Holy Father so that they will practice humility in order that they might grow as an order?

    How about, “We understood that we need more humility and obedience to be better religious because being better religious is what will make us grow as an order”?

    Cases in point: Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville, the Fathers of Mercy, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist…

  10. John Polhamus says:

    The very fact that some voted against it demonstrates that their “affirmation” is false. Total obedience means that every member would have honoured the Pope’s request and affirmed that obedience. But they didn’t, so their affirmation of their much vaunted “obedience to the Pope” and “total adhesion to Catholic docctine” means nothing. I’m sorry but this order is lost.

  11. Thomas says:

    “By a large majority”?

    How much you want to bet the (disturbingly) large minority are disproportionately Jesuits in academic institutions?

  12. Thomas L says:

    Wasn’t it Saint Ignatius of Loyola who said that (not sure if this is the exact wording) “I will believe what I percive as white to be black if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.” Sorry Father Carlo Casalone, this sounds like uncritical obedience to me. The fact that this total adhesion was not unanimously reaffirmed is disturbing to say the least. I can’t say that I am too optomistic about the future of the Jesuits.

  13. Kelly says:

    I too was thing of what Saint Ignatius says about obedience and started reading his letter “On perfect Obedience” written to the Jesuits in Portugal and came across this which seemed to apply:
    “For this reason you must never try to draw the will of the superior (which you should consider the will of God) to your own will. This would not be making the divine will the rule of your own, but your own the rule of the divine, and so distorting the order of His wisdom. It is a great delusion in those whose understanding has been darkened by self-love, to think that there is any obedience in the subject who tries to draw the superior to what he wishes…Now what I have said of obedience is not only to be understood of individuals with reference to their immediate superiors, but also of rectors and local superiors with reference to provincials, and of provincials with reference to the general, and of the general toward him whom God our Lord has given as superior, His vicar on earth.”

  14. When He who is Living Truth is treated like opinion to be manipulated, blood flows down the cross of calvary but not down the bodies of martyrs.

  15. Clavem Abyssi says:

    “Wasn’t it Saint Ignatius of Loyola who said that (not sure if this is the exact wording) “I will believe what I percive as white to be black if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.””

    My translation of the Exercises has it:

    “If we wish to proceed securely in all things, we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.”

    I believe this to be the main problem: “In reality, obedience understood as uncritical obedience to the will of another is not a virtue” Obedience is seen here as submitting to another person, obviously with Pope Benedict in mind. Now I thought the Jesuits’ special charism was uncritical obedience to the Pope, but even if it’s not, Pope Benedict is not asking for submission to himself personally, but submission to what the Church has always taught. They’re essentially saying “We’d affirm the traditional creeds, but we can’t uncritically obey a person.” The explanation shifts the emphasis from adherence to doctrine to adherence to a person, which wasn’t the original question and implies that traditional doctrine is just somebody’s opinion.

    The other explanation that obedience is actually “seeking the will of God with another person” is nonsense, as well. That sounds like asking for a peer’s advice and listening to their opinion – it has nothing to do with obedience.

  16. They had to vote on this?!?!?!

    Man I feel sorry for the faithful Jesuits out there. May God help them take back their Order from the unfaithful.

  17. Tim Nicolls says:

    Nearly every site I’ve looked at regarding the Jesuits’ meeting has emphasized how negative the Jesuits were received. But I’m not sure what people are reading. I can’t imagine a more positive reception, for example, than the one the pope gave the Jesuits at the end of their meeting. Has he ever received an order’s chapter that way? The “areas for growth” or “challenges” were the smallest part of what the Holy Father talked about. In general he exhorted them to stay “on the frontiers”. And what about the historical examples the pope used: neither Ricci or Nobili wore clerical garb in China or India; and both Jesuit missions were highly controversial (Chinese rite controversy). Whatever the serious weaknesses we see in the Jesuits; this pontiff is not telling them to return to their charism by imitating the LCs.

  18. RBrown says:

    The Jesuits will survive…. of course they had to discuss and vote on things…. the US Conference of Catholic Bishops does this every time they meet… nothing unusual or different.
    I have always admired the Jesuits as thinkers and doers, not afraid to think outside the box and not afraid to do things that need to be done or say things that need to be said to stimulate discussion.
    Comment by Dr. Joe Hoelscher

    I don’t think that Jesuits have ever thought outside the box. What they have done is simply change certain aspects of the box. For example, JRatzinger pointed out that Rahner’s Sacramental Theology (supposedly so revolutionary) is just traditional Jesuit Theology dressed up in the language of German Existentialism.

    They have lots of vocations in India, but are having serious problems in the West. A Jesuit friend told me a few years ago that his province was averaging about 1.5 ordinations a year.

  19. Carolina Catholic says:

    “not afraid to think outside the box”

    It’s not that they think outside the box, but that they think outside the Church.

  20. Jesuits, in India… Really? I mean… really? Real Jesuits?

    Mother Teresa often said: “We don’t simply need more priests; we need more holy priests.”

  21. Richard says:

    Jesuits vote on “We are Catholic, really”?

    What was it – 12 for, 11 against, 3 abstentions?

  22. Phil says:

    Other issues that were dealt with during the congregation included youth, indigenous populations, religious fundamentalism, communication in the Internet age and ecology.

    5 out of 5 for political correctness. (and bonuspoint if ‘youth’ is defined as anyone under the age of 45).

    Need I say more? (and out of charity, I won’t).