The Pope, the Jesuits, the Gesù, and the Te Deum

I am musing about something.

Usually the singing of the solemn Te Deum at the end of the year on 31 December was executed at the great Jesuit church the Gesù, in the centro.

The Pope would go to the Gesù for this.

This year the Pope stayed at St. Peter’s.

The Jesuits begin their 35th General Congregation in the coming week.  

They will have to replace Fr. Hans P. Kolvenbach, 80, who received permission from the Pope to resign.

The general of the Jesuits is elected for life, unless the Pope dispenses him, as John Paul II did Arupe.

The election of the new general, which I believe will take place in March, is preceded by four days of information gathering, known as the murmuratio. when delegates discuss candidates among themselves.

This year, the Pope did not go to the Gesù.

I suspect this has less to do with Benedict’s view of the Jesuits than it does with his desire to showcase Vespers and the Te Deum, with a new liturgical style, for the whole world.


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  1. Jeffry Moore says:

    Already in 2005 Benedetto XVI had the Te Deum in St. Peters and I was there. Aventicus

  2. Jim says:

    It will take a great saint to restore the Jesuits to their former mission. Absent that, the order will continue to fade away, to be replaced by some new order or movement which focuses on spreading the Gospel and making disciples.

  3. David says:

    I can’t say when the change of venue occurred but the Te Deum was at St. Peter’s in 1999 (I was there) and, I believe, in many if not all of the subsequent years. It certainly is not something initiated by Pope Benedict.

  4. As the older Pope’s health faded, he no longer went to the Gesù. His weakness probably facilitated a smooth transition to St. Peter’s.

  5. mike says:

    File under Non-denial Denial


  6. TNCath says:

    Ahead of the Jesuits in the dying process are their former rivals, the De La Salle Christian Brothers. They have started this new “movement” called “Lasallian Heritage,” that is supposed to carry on the work of their founder, St. John Baptist De La Salle, without Brothers. Being a “Lasallian” subscribes to the same vague philosophy as “In the Dominican Tradition” or “In the Jesuit Tradition” for their educational apostolates. Let us hope and pray that the Jesuits elect a leader who will launch a reform of their great order.

  7. justinmartyr says:

    The Jesuits aren’t worth saving; they’re not even worth suppressing. In 20 years they will be about as influential as the Shakers. Good riddance.

  8. To say that the Jesuits are not worth saying is a comment unbecoming a Christian. Let’s not forget souls are at stake here, those of the Jesuit priests and those they minister to. In searching for colleges with my daughter I was surprised that the vast majority of American Catholic colleges are Jesuit. The Jesuits must be reformed. By the grace of God they will.

  9. “The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.”

    St. Edmund Campion, S.J.

  10. Matthew Mattingly says:


    You are right about the De La Salle Christian Brothers dying out faster than the Jesuits. I did some quick research. Can you believe that during and after World War II and all the way up until Vatican II in 1962-1965, the Christian Brothers were the 4th largest religious Order (of male religious) in the entire Church? First were the Jesuits, then the Franciscans, then the Salesians, and hovering in the 20,000 range or more right before Vatican II were the Christian Brothers. Today, since the disaster of Vatican II, the Jesuits are still the largest reliigous Order (but -17,000 since Vatican II), the Franciscans (-12,000 since Vatican II) lost their 2nd place spot to the Salesians (minus only 4,000 since Vatican II). Meanwhile, the Christian Brothers were bumped down in the ranks considerably, (-15,000) since Vatican II. They have lost so many brothers in the USA (less than 600 in the USA total) that it in concievable they will be gone as a viable Order in the USA within 5-10 years. This is extremly sad when you consider that before Vatican II, there were about 3,500 brothers in the USA with close to another 1,500 brothers in training in the USA alone.
    I don’t think the Jesuits will elect a good, conservative and traditional leader. This is what they need to survive…..but I’ll bet they’ll pick another radical liberal a la Pedro Arrupe, and thus seal their swift extinction.

  11. TNCath says:

    I am well aware of the decline of the Christian Brothers, particularly in the United States. It’s a tragic story of an order that has, by and large, lost its way and bears practically no resemblance to the charism of its founder, St. John Baptist De La Salle.

    The Christian Brothers are farther along than the Jesuits would ever think to be because the Jesuits have always had a core group amongst them that have been loyal and have fought to restore their order. This is simply not the case with the Christian Brothers. There are individuals within the order that see the writing on the wall, but there simply aren’t enough of them to do anything about it. The few (very few) Brothers who are trying to live out their vocations as authentically as possible (under nearly impossible circumstances) will not be enough to turn the tide for the order that Pope St. Pius X called “the Apostles of the Catechism.” The rest are pretty much retired bachelor teachers who live in the semblence of a “religious community” with separate lives awaiting their next trip out of town. What a sad irony.

  12. Cristhian says:

    i’m not so worry about the christian brothers, i’m really concerned about the Carmelites.

  13. Arthur says:

    Let’s remember that the pope has the right to intervene in the Society and appoint himself a Superior General. Pope John Paul II did this for a brief time (too brief IMHO) in the 1980’s. If the Jesuits are to be reformed, it may require such an intervention once again. In my wildest dreams Fr. Fessio would take the helm and turn everything on its head in a matter of months. All praise be to God that he is in charge, and not I. His winding ways are more subtle and more sublime. But still, I do have those kinds of dreams….

  14. Syriacus says:

    Father, just unvbeliavable, from Genoa: Cardinal Bagnasco\’s Te Deum at the Jesuits as usual yes, but… well, have a look:

    [For non Italian readers: the use of the pulpit is extremely rare -euphemism- in most italian dioceses. Besides, that was the Jesuits\’ church, so a place where pulpit has probably been not used for the last 40 years or so…]

    (from: )

  15. Athelstane says:


    Jesuit-bashing is a popular pastime, and not without reason, but let us not forget the indispensable role the Society of Jesus played in reclaiming so much of Europe for the Faith – and in claiming so much of the rest of the world as well. Poland would almost certainly be Protestant were it not for the Jesuits.

    Today\’s Society is but a shadow of that glorious past. But there are still very good Jesuits out there. Not many, I grant – but they are out there. And there are enough, I think, that they could serve as the core of a renewed Society if the Pope chose to undertake a partial suppression and reorganization.

  16. tdb says:

    TNCath, I’m very curious as to where you “researched” your misinformed information about the Christian Brothers. This is an order, that, like all Religious Orders, is facing the reality of declining numbers in consecrated-lay life. However, the Christian Brothers foresight and commitment to preserving their Mission and charism by authentically and deliberately sharing it with their lay partners is far beyond other religious orders. . .and in fact, other orders, including the Jesuits, have sought guidance from the Christian Brothers regarding their lay formation program. . . or more accurately their formation programs that join Brothers and lay partners in shared Mission Formation; thus, being true to the basis of their vows and charism by being “together and by association.” So, your statement that the story of the Christian Brother in the United States is a “a tragic story of an order that has, by and large, lost its way and bears practically no resemblance to the charism of its founder, St. John Baptist De La Salle,” is HIGHLY inaccurate and misinformed.– just take a look at the US/ Toronto Region’s website at or the Institute”s website at to see all the great work the Brothers are involved in, in partnership with their lay partners. around the world.

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