Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pope Francis and the "Dirty" war in Argentina

Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War


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This Week on Jesuits. Good Article

The Jesuits: 'God's marines'
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has become the first Jesuit pope in Catholic Church history. How will that influence him?
Pope Francis at his Inauguration Mass in St Peter's Square on March 19.
Pope Francis at his Inauguration Mass in St Peter's Square on March 19.
Franco Origlia/Getty Images
ho are the Jesuits?
Formally called the Society of Jesus, they are the largest single religious order in the Catholic Church. The society was founded in Paris in 1534 by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Basque soldier who discovered his faith while recuperating from a cannonball wound. He and six fellow students at the University of Paris, including St. Francis Xavier, dedicated themselves to serving the pope as missionary soldiers of Christ. The order was originally organized along military lines, under the leadership of a "Father General." Early followers named themselves "The Company of Jesus," and were nicknamed "God's Marines," for their willingness to go anywhere in the world at the pope's command. Pope Paul III recognized them as an order in 1540; today there are over 20,000 Jesuits, including missionaries, teachers, and scholars.
What are they known for?
Primarily, for their missionary zeal and love for education. Inspired by the Renaissance, Loyola believed the best way of spreading God's word was through establishing Catholic schools. The huge success of a college in Messina, Sicily, prompted him to send members of the order out into Europe and beyond to inaugurate schools, universities, and seminaries. By the time he died, in 1556, the Jesuits had founded 74 colleges in Ireland, Germany, Poland, Egypt, India, and Japan. Today, they run 189 colleges across the globe, with 28 in the United States, including Georgetown University and Boston College. Jesuit colleges emphasize free-thinking and theological debate, which is why more-conservative Catholics consider the order to be dangerously independent. Vincent O'Keefe, an American Jesuit and a former acting Father General, used to joke that Catholics believe "the Jesuits know everything — but nothing else."
Are they respected?
They haven't always been. The Jesuits certainly were well regarded during the 16th and 17th centuries, when they were viewed as the most pious and most intellectual of priests. Kings of France chose Jesuit confessors for 200 years. But as Catholic Europe disintegrated amid much palace intrigue, the Jesuits' obedience to the papacy made them many enemies. Jesuits were widely viewed as conniving manipulators, and Father Generals were dismissively known as "Black Popes" for their supposed control of the Vatican. Anti-Catholics suspected the order of plotting to overturn governments at the pope's command. The order was eventually dissolved by Pope Clement XIV in 1773, at the urging of anti-clerical kings of Europe. The Jesuits survived in Russia and Prussia, until the pope's edict was rescinded in 1814. But suspicion lingered. "If ever there was a body of men who merited eternal damnation on Earth and in hell, it is this society of Loyola's," wrote John Adams to Thomas Jefferson in 1816. Adams feared the Jesuits would try to undermine the new republic's separation of church and state.
What's their current reputation?
The Jesuits are still viewed within the church as the most liberal of the clerical orders, with a rebellious bent. Because of their missionary work, particularly in Latin America, the Jesuits developed strong sympathy for desperately poor people subjugated by colonial or military governments. In 1974, the society decreed that its mission was the "service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement." For some priests, this led naturally to a leftist movement called "liberation theology," which champions a revolutionary class struggle pitting the people against the powerful and wealthy. Some Jesuits actually fought alongside communist guerrillas in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In 1981, Pope John Paul II, aghast at the political direction the order was taking, overrode the Jesuits' nominee for Father General and appointed a pontifical delegate of his own. That created a split between Jesuits and the Vatican that has not been fully repaired.
Will Francis be a Jesuit pope?
On matters of sexual morality and the role of women, Bergoglio is first and foremost a traditionalist, and not a reformer. In Argentina, he also distanced himself from the liberation theology movement, warning priests it was far too political. Still, Francis shares the Jesuits' intense identification with the poor and powerless; he has called "the unjust distribution of goods" a "social sin that cries out to Heaven." There's little doubt that Bergoglio's Jesuit concern for social inequality will guide the Vatican's direction in coming years. Like other Jesuits, he also has little regard for hierarchy in itself and the trappings of power; he traveled to work in Buenos Aires by public transport. Those who know him say that the new pope will use his position to do what Jesuits have always done — evangelize, especially in the church's new center of gravity in the Southern Hemisphere. The election of a Jesuit as pope sends a powerful message, said Father Kevin O'Brien, a Jesuit who is vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University. "The church has been sidetracked by sexual and financial scandals. Now, it's about getting back to the basics. It's about preaching the gospel and helping the poor."
The Jesuits' worldly achievements
Jesuits have been among the most fervent missionaries in history, evangelizing across the globe — and in the process, making a huge impact on the secular world. Jesuit explorers founded the city of São Paulo, located the source of the Blue Nile, and charted the Amazon and Mississippi rivers. Jesuit missionaries brought rhubarb, quinine, vanilla, and ginseng back from Asia and South America, and are believed to have introduced the umbrella to the West. The order's emphasis on learning has also helped it make significant strides in human knowledge. A Jesuit mathematician, Christopher Clavius, created the modern Gregorian calendar, while Jesuit scientist Athanasius Kircher was the first to discover that the bubonic plague was spread by microorganisms. There are 35 craters on the moon named after Jesuit scientists and astronomers. Less well known, perhaps, is their contribution to the theater: A 17th-century Jesuit teacher is thought to have invented the trap door.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jesuits in the Economist.... With corrections...

The Economist

The Economist explains

Who are the Jesuits, exactly? by E.H.

THE election of Pope Francis on March 13th was surprising for several reasons. He is the first pope from South America, making him the first non-European since the 8th century. He is also the only pope to take the name Francis—evoking the humility of St Francis of Assisi, a 12th century Italian monk. Most surprising of all, he is the only member of the Society of Jesus, a religious order dating from the 16th century, to become a pope. But just who are the Jesuits, exactly?

Within the Roman Catholic church, there are two types of priests: the secular clergy and those who are part of religious orders. The first group are known as diocesan priests, and will often (though not always) be attached to a parish and are accountable to a local bishop. They train at a seminary, a theological college, and do not take vows of poverty or seclude themselves from the outside world. In many ways they are the public face of the Catholic church. Religious orders, by contrast, have more autonomy from the central church. They are not under the jurisdiction of a bishop (who in turn has been appointed by the pope) and can live completely excluded from secular society, depending on the order they belong to. Monks—such as the Dominicans, Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists and Franciscans—live within their orders, in monasteries, though often will be connected to educational institutions. In Britain alone the Benedictines teach at Ampleforth College, a public school in north England, while the Dominicans run Blackfriars Hall, an Oxford college.

The Society of Jesus is another such religious order. Set up by Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish former soldier, in 1540, there are now over 12,000 [Fr Rick's correction: ACTUALLY 19,000.  WHY DOES THE PRESS MAKE SUCH EGREGIOUS ERRORS?] Jesuit priests, and the society is one of the largest groups in the Roman Catholic church. Known as the "soldiers of Christ" after the military bearing of their founder (who discovered his vocation, it is claimed, after reading a book on the lives of the saints in a hospital when recovering from war wounds) the order emphasises education, particularly their belief in the importance of learning languages, and the need for missionary evangelism in the life of a priest. They work in churches within cities and towns or run schools and colleges. Unlike diocesan priests, who can complete their studies in four or five years, Jesuits train for 12 years and only become ordained when they are in their thirties. Associated with the more liberal aspects of Catholicism, they tend not to conduct mass in Latin [Fr. Rick's correction: MOST PRIESTS CELEBRATE MASS IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE AT THE MASS.  ONLY A VERY FEW REGULARLY SAY MASS IN LATIN.  EVEN EWTN TELECASTS MASSES MOSTLY IN ENGLISH]. On becoming a Jesuit, they also vow never to take ecclesiastical office, such as a bishopric, unless ordered to by the pope. [ONE BECOMES A JESUIT ON ENTERING THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF FORMATION CALLED THE NOVITIATE.  AFTER TWO YEARS AS A NOVICE, A JESUIT TAKES SIMPLE, PERPETUAL VOWS.  AT THE TIME OF FINAL VOWS, SOME TEN TO TWENTY YEARS AFTER ENTERING THE ORDER, A JESUIT TAKES FINAL, SOLEMN VOWS.  AT THE TIME OF FINAL VOWS,  THE JESUIT TAKES VOWS BEYOND THOSE OF POVERTY, CHASTITY AND OBEDIENCE.]

This last vow is one of the reasons why Pope Francis's election was particularly surprising. According to Brendan Callaghan, the master of Campion Hall, a Jesuit college in Oxford, many Jesuits thought they would never see one of their own in papal office, even if some, such as Pope Francis, had become archbishops. Accustomed to being slightly on the margins of church hierarchy, the Jesuits are marked out by a questioning and occasionally defiant attitude towards the central office of the church. Putting such a potential outsider at the head of an institution mired by difficulties and facing a declining membership is a bold move. It already signals the changes to come.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Jesuits Like Pope Francis Work on Margins of Society

He has a simpler, more personal style than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, which is in part a product of his formation as a Jesuit.
So is his emphasis on the poor — and not just that priests must help the poor but that they must also live a humble life as a model. Speaking to journalists over the weekend, he called for "a poor church for the poor."
The Jesuit order, known formally as the Society of Jesus, was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1540. It emphasizes intellectual acumen, educational excellence and what it calls contemplation in action — the dedication to working in the world on behalf of the church and the poor, and not withdrawing from it into a monastic or cloistered way of life.
As members of the largest Catholic religious order for men, Jesuit priests take a vow not to seek higher office, although they can accept positions if they are offered.
"For us, it's so weird; we're used to serving the pope, not being the pope," Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Italian Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, said in an interview last week.
Jesuits do not serve as parish priests, but typically work as teachers and serve the poor.
"The innovation of the Jesuits was to not leave the world. You can have a busy life and still grow in holiness, if you do it right," the Rev. Gerard Whelan, a theologian at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, told The Times.
"It is spirituality oriented toward decision-making in a busy life," he added. "We do not want an enclosed church."
Such attributes are critical to a Roman Catholic Church in crisis. Francis is, many here say, just what the church needs at this moment in its 2,000-year history. In outlining some of the reasons they chose Francis, cardinals have cited his sanctity, a dedication to Scripture and holiness and his ability to communicate and reach out as a pastor.
Their aim is to restore the church to a position of moral authority lost in the procession of scandals and other troubles that plagued the papacy of Benedict XVI, who resigned last month. Those includesexual abuse of children by priests, published leaks about Vatican mismanagement and corruption at the Vatican bank and other parts of its administration.
Francis' evident warmth and grandfatherly affability (he has given bear hugs to some of the people greeting him at audiences since his appointment) could go a long way in wooing back parishioners who gave up on their church. Especially under Benedict, the church for many seemed increasingly distant, cold, inward-looking and Euro-centric. Benedict specifically chose to concentrate on the evangelization of Europe, rarely spoke of the poor and tended to cite turgid theological documents or, perhaps most infamously, Byzantine emperors. Francis tells folksy stories from his hometown parishes. He is the first pope from Latin America and from the entire Southern Hemisphere, home today to most of the world's Catholics.
His propensity to wade into crowds has been sending his security detail scrambling. His frequent departure from prepared texts is sending Vatican transcribers scrambling.
And in his long career as a Jesuit leader in Argentina, he served during a period as a novice master, entrusted with the spiritual teaching of young entrants, another valuable tool for the overseer of a church that has lost priests in many parts of the world.
The Jesuit penchant for humility is one reason the choice of the Buenos Aires native was seen as astonishing. Few Jesuits even rise to become archbishops or cardinals.
Another source of marvel stems from the many decades of often tumultuous relations with the Vatican.
The late Pope John Paul II intervened in the order over a period starting in 1981, replacing its leader in Rome with a personal delegate. As a staunch anti-communist, the Polish-born pontiff feared that some Jesuits, especially in Latin America, were becoming too enamored of liberation theology, a left-leaning interpretation of church teachings that some critics believed veered into Marxism. The crackdown against priests in Latin America, many of them Jesuits, would have traumatic consequences. Priests who championed the poor found few ways to do their work that did not threaten the status quo in that Cold War era. A small number took up arms; others were killed or persecuted by repressive regimes.
"They were left with a terrible dilemma," Whelan said of the Jesuit clergy in Latin America. "You had unsavory dictatorships supported by the West, a freezing of more normal processes of social reform and a Catholic Church habitually equated with the ruling class. What do you do in such a polarized situation?"
During that period, Bergoglio in Argentina struggled to keep his priests in line with more orthodox practice. After a military junta took over the country, Argentina was plunged into a so-called dirty war, when government forces kidnapped and killed thousands of dissidents.
The Catholic Church in Argentina has been widely criticized for failing to stand up to the oppression and possibly even helping to carry it out. Bergoglio's own role has been beset by renewed questions since he became pope. He and his supporters have denied overt complicity with the military but it seems clear he did not speak out forcefully.
That period was not the first time the Jesuits had trouble with the home office.
In the mid-1700s, Pope Clement XIV essentially banned the order, which was seen as too independent and a thorn in the side of some governments. About half a century later, the decree was rescinded.

Instead, he took the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order. Clement was a Franciscan.
Pope Francis said on Saturday, recounting behind-the-scene moments of his election, that when it became clear he was winning, one of the fellow cardinals suggested he take the name of Clement XV to "take revenge" on the repressor of the Jesuits. It was just a joke, Francis hastily added.
"It is a beautiful act of reconciliation, taking the name of Francis," the Rev. John Wauck, a commentator from the conservative Opus Dei congregation, said. "I think he will shake things up, but help the Jesuits too."
The Jesuits' core orientation, their venturing into the world and their stance often on the margins of societies, all contributed to the order's run-ins with central Vatican authority over the centuries, several experts said.
"We live on the frontiers, the boundaries," Spadaro said. "Living in a trench, it exposes you to tensions.... So we live in this tension between ... living in the trenches and at the same time the obedience we give to the pope."
Still, Pope Francis is by no means a liberal. He adheres strictly to the most traditional church doctrine and has developed a cozy relationship with the Italy-based Communion and Liberation movement, an enormously powerful, fundamentalist Catholic organization.
And yet, in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict as pope, Bergoglio, as the second-highest vote-getter, was considered the candidate of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the then-ailing last great liberal member of the College of Cardinals. Martini, a Jesuit, died last year, but not before delivering a final interview that described a "tired" church in desperate need for renewal and one that needed a "radical path for change."
It is not expected that Francis will go down that radical path. But many are hoping he will overhaul the Curia, as the Vatican bureaucracy is known. He has signaled some changes: He said the top Curia officials, who must automatically tender their resignations upon death or resignation of a pope, are being kept in their posts only temporarily.
But the Curia is a Goliath, and Pope Francis may not have the experience or the wherewithal to challenge it on every level, if that is even his desire.
One key test will be what he does with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the enforcer of doctrine and arbitrator of priests' theological performances. It was directed for years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who continued to use it after he became Pope Benedict to discipline priests deemed to be out of line.
One of the most recent cases was the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a leftist Spaniard based in El Salvador where he is revered by many. The congregation censured him in 2007 for his "erroneous and dangerous" teachings. Sobrino is a Jesuit.
Times staff writer Henry Chu contributed to this report.

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