Compare and contrast

I was sent these by e-mail from a reader

This is the FSSP in a gathering in 2006:

This is the 2008 General Congregation of Jesuits in Rome:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    The bottom photo looks like the local agricultural workers’ soviet from the Kharkov oblast upon approving the next five year plan for wheat production.

  2. Wm.: Discussing the new Five Year Plan?

  3. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Compare the general age of the priests in the bottom photo to those in the top.

  4. Paul says:

    Spot on Wm. Christopher Hoag! There is not one clerical collar in sight in the bottom photo, how very depressing and how very wrong.

  5. TomG says:

    Which quota, as always, will be “over-fulfilled.”

  6. Paul(different) says:

    Actually, I think I see one clerical . . . in the very back. That might make it even more absurd.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    I never laughed so hard! So sad!

  8. danphunter1 says:

    Not a single Jesuit is wearing priestly garb, not to mention a cassock.
    Why is that?
    I find it unbelievable.
    What sets these alter Christus apart to the eye of the layman or cleric?

    I once was starving in Manhattan looking for food, and found my way into the basement of some building where a teamsters union was having a spaghetti supper.
    It looked just like the bottom photo, with one exception: The teamsters were a lot bigger and rougher looking.
    God bless you.

  9. aeneas says:

    Re: The Jesuits

    As Vergil said 2000 years ago, “facilis descensus Averno:
    noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
    sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,
    hoc opus, hic labor est.”

  10. Mark says:

    Says it all!!!

  11. tzard says:

    2/3 of the ones in the first picture are kneeling. (Granted, kneeling for a picture, and the lower one standing for applause, but the contrast is still there).

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    I’m afraid, Father Z, that you pasted in the wrong picture. I don’t for a moment believe those fellows in the second pictures are priests. But I really wonder just where you found a photo showing such uniformly mediocre-looking specimens. What are they? Obviously not doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs. Surely no kind of professionals at all. Even (speaking as a scientist) a group of humanities professors would look more intelligent. Can any suggest what you’d be willing to hire these guys to do?

  13. Larry Brooks says:

    Gadzooks! Not a Roman Collar in the place and most of those present are dressed in “business casual”–looks like a college classroom full of men who look beyond the college age! I think the guys on top look a good deal more professional and while I wouldn’t buy a car from them I should would look to them to lead me in the Faith! (I wouldn’t buy a car from the guys on the bottom either–ethical problems)

  14. Henry: No no…. take my word for it. These fellows are typical of Jesuits, and most religious, especially in Rome.

  15. Luca says:

    GRANDE Padre!!! Un vero spasso!!!

  16. It’s like a sweater convention. I mean, there are very few jackets there, let alone clerics. Levelling is clearly a priority with this bunch. Not just the distinction between priest and laity (hence, no clerics), but the distinction between serious adult and total loser (hence, no coats and ties). Give ’em a few years. In their next group photo, they’ll all be in sweats.

  17. Larry Brooks says:

    They call this the “black conclave”? Looks more like a any union meeting in the USA! Not very pretty! 40 years ago our Jesuits at Regis either wore clerics or a cassock every day. They still believed!

  18. Beau says:

    Larry: I don’t know about cars, but I know one priest of the FSSP that has a boom truck for sale :)

  19. Janet says:

    Speaking of sweatsuits, I saw a most disheartening sight at a daily Mass at St. Vincent’s Hospital last week. It’s run by the Daughter’s of Charity, and one of the sisters (I think the one in charge of the whole place) was in there in sweats! Apparently it was her off day, and she just came in for Mass, but she was also the lector, so she was standing up there in plain view looking like anything BUT a religious sister! It was a sad sight.

    Generally the Daughters of Charity do wear some variant of a vaguely religious looking outfit, but nothing that gives plain evidence that this is a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, as they used to wear many yrs ago. They do very good charitable work, and their hearts are in the right place, but I do wish they’d put on a recognizeable habit and wear it proudly.

  20. Jonathan Bennett says:

    My grandfather attended a Jesuit high school. He was once caught cheating on a test. His punishment- three rounds in the gym with Father Rector, no gloves.

    His memories were of a tough, strict, disciplined, extremely intelligent, and unquestionably faithful religious order.

    What happened???

  21. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Is that a man or a woman, second one in on the right? I think these were just priests?

  22. Paul Murnane says:

    The Jesuits need our prayers.

  23. Geoffrey says:

    When I look at that picture on the bottom, I am tempted to ask myself: “Where’s the REAL Jesuit?” ala “Where’s Waldo?”

  24. hieromonk Gregory says:

    Was the second picture from annual meeting of the Hemlock Society? I am Jesuit educated but at a differenct time and place, thank God!

  25. mike says:

    Top picture: Preparing for one of those cassocked soccer games
    Bottom picture: Steve Jobs presenting his new line of ultra-sheer clericals (so sheer they’re completely transparent)


  26. magdalen says:

    The pictures are very telling. The first picture might have some thing it was
    from our past but, no, it is our future! The second picture is our present
    and fading into past.

    Yes, I also go to daily Mass at a hospital run by the sisters of charity.
    Yes, one wears sweats. I did see one of them once, no two of them once wear
    a skirt. They do not come to mass everyday and there is not one religious
    item about them. You would never know they were consecrated sisters. One
    just started to dye her hair and it went blue. Secular clothes, secular
    jewelry, secular hair, secular homes, secular lives. A shame and so many
    opportunities missed.

  27. Matt Q says:

    Henry Edwards wrote:

    “I’m afraid, Father Z, that you pasted in the wrong picture. I don’t for a moment believe those fellows in the second pictures are priests. But I really wonder just where you found a photo showing such uniformly mediocre-looking specimens. What are they? Obviously not doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs. Surely no kind of professionals at all. Even (speaking as a scientist) a group of humanities professors would look more intelligent. Can any suggest what you’d be willing to hire these guys to do?”


    I’m with you on that, Henry. I believe it indicates a sloven mindset in which they meander through life with a very false–or diluted–sense of religion. For the most part, I don’t trust Jesuits ( Father Joseph Fessio not included, thank the Lord ). Most of them have fallen off the Church wagon so long ago that any sort of article or commentary written by any “so-and-so, SJ,” is immediately disregarded by me.

    Pope John Paul II early on, in fact, at the beginning of his reign, told clergy and religious to wear their clerics and their habits. Obviously they’ve taken on the “It’s my body” mentality. “I can wear what I want. It’s my body, my choice.” John Paul also said religious communities need to live the charism of their founders in order to thrive. As we can see by the two pictures, authenticity of religion and charism brings the vocations, and stability. The FSSP, a nice mix but with quite noticeable young, vigorous men who have dedicated themselves to priestly-religious life. The Jesuits, not a young man in sight, and doubtfully not many on the way. Granted, those were selected delegates, but quite telling. In all their choices, there was not one young, middle-aged Jesuit among them worthy of a position in such a gathering?

  28. jack burton says:

    I was at Mass celebrated by one of the priests present in that gathering (Jesuits) about a month ago and I will just say that the homily was… interesting. It had a lot to do with celebrating other cultures and religions and arguably nothing to do with the Catholic faith. This is particularly sad considering that it was an important feast day for Catholics. I hate to stereotype anyone but in this case the improvised celebration of the Mass and the content of the homily were basically cliche. haha

  29. Eduardo says:

    Oh, looking at the photo I thought these guys answered the phones for the PBS pledge drive…

  30. Deborah says:

    Pictures really do prove more than words.

    Perhaps a picture book would do better than letter writing to those bishops who are crying out for vocations and blaming the faithful and/or society yet refuse to look at the schools, seminaries, religious orders, and the awful abuses in the sacred liturgies, in their own dioceses.

  31. Doug Gates says:

    In his defense, you’ll note that Fr. Kolvenbach is shown in a cassock in all of the photos throughout the General Congregation website. Notice he’s the only one, and he’s retiring.

    What if they had selected some of the younger priests to be delegates to the Convention? Then might we have seen a collar or two?

  32. Most laity I know feel odd around priests and religious who don’t wear their collars or habits. It always makes you wonder either: what are they afraid of?, or what are they ashamed of? that they don’t want to be seen in their proper attire.

    Can the pope do anything about the Jesuits since my understanding is that they are the “pope’s order” and he has much more direct authority over them (from what I’ve heard)?

  33. Londiniensis says:

    Yet another example of corruptio optimi pessima or, to mistranslate Benda, “the treason of the clerics“. And to just think of the collective brain power gathered in the Aula, let alone the whole Society of Jesus – what a potential resource for the Church, if used properly. So much hangs on Saturday’s vote – they need our prayers.

  34. danphunter1 says:

    Can you just imagine Father Isaac Jogues or Father Le Beauf coming to the new world and bringing the True Faith to the Hurons and Mohawk dressed like the bottom photo?
    They would have their fingers chewed off and their throats cauterized just for daring to wear this abysmal apparel.

  35. Maureen says:

    It’s just odd. If you can’t dress up in clericals for a rare gathering of your order to elect a new head, when can you dress up?

  36. danphunter1 says:

    That is Father De Brebeuf

  37. Stu says:

    Saint Ignatius Loyola, ora pro nobis.

  38. Kelly says:

    I am curious to know where Frs. Mitch Pacwa, Joseph Fessio, Robert Spitzer and their like fit in this order? Certainly there are others like them? Are these preists tolerated? Ignored? Banished? Why not Fessio for Superior General?

  39. Brian says:

    Janet – I went to a Vincentian school. For a span of 4 years I never once saw
    any of the Daughters of Charity in a Habit or anything other than “street clothers”.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    Kelly said: “I am curious to know where Frs. Mitch Pacwa, Joseph Fessio, Robert Spitzer and their like fit in this order?”

    I long wondered the same thing. There are many orthodox Jesuits. Didn’t the Capuchins come into being in order to have an order closer to St. Francis’s vision? Perhaps the orthodox Jesuits should do the same.

  41. Michael says:

    Matthew 23:27, folks…..Matthew 23:27.

  42. Carl_Telfair says:

    Fr. Z –
    This is WDTPRS at its absolute worst and most juvenile. As someone who has learned much from this blog and its readers – and as someone who has really come to appreciate the motu proprio’s unifying gift because of YOUR writing – I can’t help but wonder what you were thinking by throwing up a photo like this and inviting your readers to toss darts at it? What interest is served by the divisive comments being posted here? Is there anything unifying about the discussion here? Most of your readers are laity, I know, and it will never cease to amaze me the juvenile lengths that they will go to impugn the character of priests with whom they don’t agree.

    This is really beneath this blog, Father.

  43. JML says:

    I am reminded of a sermon from 2003(?) from AudioSancto…”What we do in here, determines what happens out there (in the world).”

  44. Tom Lanter says:


    My hope is that the man The Company choses Saturday is Catholic and that he will remind his men their goal, as it was from the beginning, is to defend the papacy.
    Also I would like him to instruct his university presidents to follow the holy Father’s counsel when he meets with them during his US visit.


    Tom Lanter

  45. Stephen says:

    Things come, things go. Only the Church itself is protected forever. The Jesuits waxed, then waned, the lights went out, now just the smoke. But other lights will be lit.

  46. Andrew says:

    I’m glad that somebody brought up the nasty tone of this thread. I’m as much of a traditionalist as anybody who reads this blog. Maybe even more ;-). But I don’t feel comfortable AT ALL with the way this thread has gone. When in doubt, I look to the Holy Father for guidance. Especially this Holy Father. He wrote a letter to the Jesuits in advance of their conclave, and I think it should be the model for respectful discussion. Not what Carl correctly called juvenile dart throwing. Here are the two key parts of the letter:

    “”As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I had the opportunity to appreciate the valid collaboration of Jesuit consultors and experts who, in full fidelity to their charism, contributed in a considerable way to the faithful promotion and reception of the Magisterium. Certainly this is not a simple undertaking, especially when called to announce the Gospel in very different social and cultural contexts and when having to deal with different mentalities.”

    Doesn’t sound to me like the Holy Father is ready to turn the lights out, even if he says this later in the letter:

    “The evangelizing work of the Church very much counts on the formative responsibility which the Society has in the areas of theology, of spirituality, and of mission. And, really so as to offer the entire Society of Jesus a clear orientation which might be a support for generous and faithful apostolic dedication, it could prove extremely useful that the General Congregation reaffirm, in the spirit of Saint Ignatius, its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine, in particular on those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons.”

    Why can’t this be the model for how we discuss the Jesuits? I join the small minority here who are very disappointed in the tone of this discussion.

  47. danphunter1 says:

    What does:,”Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead mans bones, and of all filthiness.” Have to do with the above photos? Non-sequiter time.

    Canon law requires that priests dress in clerical garb when in not in the confines of their private chambers.

  48. Okay… this has run its course, I think.

    From now on, people can send e-mail comments about this and if I think they are interesting, I will post them.

Comments are closed.