Saturday, January 26, 2008

The new General meets the press.

Just short of a week after his election as Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás gave his first official press conference yesterday. The new General touched on a range of topics, from the state of relations between the Vatican and the Jesuit Order to the ways in which the decades he spent in Japan changed his outlook. He also spoke candidly and humorously about the unaccustomed attention he has received from the media since his election:
Father Nicolás said that since his election, he had been reading the newspapers more than usual and has found some of the comments about his election entertaining, some absolutely false and others right on the mark.

He said that a Spanish newspaper had been looking for his report card from a school he attended only one year at the age of 10.

"It's terrible, that year I failed two subjects - geography and another that I don't remember," he said.

Other newspapers, he said, have tried to imply that there is "a theological distance between me and (Pope) Benedict XVI," when, in fact, Father Nicolás' own theological studies included the then-Father Ratzinger's textbooks, which "were highly interesting and had a newness and an inspiration that all of us recognized."

"The distance is a theory in the imagination of those who have written it," the superior general said.

He said he had read several articles comparing him to Father Pedro Arrupe, who led the Jesuits [from] 1965-83, and Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, his immediate predecessor.

"However, no one has yet said I'm 10 percent Elvis Presley, although one could say this and it wouldn't surprise me. But I think this is all false," he added.
Father Nicolás also responded directly to concerns regarding Jesuits' obedience to the Pope, a topic that the Holy Father himself has raised in recent days and which many commentators had hoped the new General would address. "The Society of Jesus wants to cooperate with the Vatican and obey the Holy Father," the General said. "This has not and will not change. We were born in this context, and this is the context that will determine our actions." Father Nicolás also stated that his immediate priority as leader of the Society is "to listen to what the General Congregation wants, how we will respond to the conversation and challenges the Holy Father addressed to us and which we are taking very seriously in our reflections, how to respond to help the Church, not ourselves."

What specific response will the 35th General Congregation offer to the needs of the Church today and to the Society's own internal challenges? At this point, it's too soon to say. As a Jesuit, I have no "insider information" to rely upon beyond occasional electronic reports, the content of which differs little from that which is available to the general public. As has been the case with previous General Congregations, the story behind the decrees of GC35 will not really be known until the Congregation concludes and the various delegates return to their home provinces and start to share their impressions and reflections more fully. I look forward to reading the documents that will be produced by this Congregation, and I look forward to hearing more about the process from the delegates that I know. In the meantime, I'll be praying for the work of GC35, and I hope you'll join me in doing so. AMDG.


At 1/27/2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Joseph Fromm said...


Great post on GC35. I love your blog, it is well written, thoughtful and faithful.


At 1/27/2008 7:10 PM, Blogger Karen said...

What Joe said!

And I also wanted to say "hi," and that you (and the other Cizekites) are always in my thoughts and prayers.



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