Society of Jesus elects New General Superior

Source: FSSPX News


The 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits opened in Rome on January 7, 2008. On January 14, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, presented his resignation which was accepted by the Congregation. In his farewell address, he explained that he did not feel physically capable to give fresh impetus to an “increasingly frail” Society.”

Before the election of his successor, Benedict XVI had sent a letter to Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. Dated January 10, 2008, it was made public on January 18. This letter reminded the Jesuits that: “This is a providential occasion for impressing upon the Society of Jesus that renewed ascetic and apostolic impulse which is wished by all, so that Jesuits might fulfill completely their mission and confront the challenges of the modern world with that faith to Christ and to the Church which distinguished the prophetic action of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions.” (…) As at the time of St. Paul “so even today evangelization demands a total and faithful adhesion to the word of God: adhesion first of all to Christ and to attentive listening to his Spirit which guides the Church; humble obedience to the Pastors whom God has placed to guide his people; and prudent and frank dialogue with the social, cultural, and religious appeals of our time.”

“To serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth (Apostolic Letter Exposcit debitum, 21 July 1550). One treats here of a “peculiar” fidelity confirmed also, by not a few among you, in a vow of immediate obedience to the Successor of Peter perinde ac cadaver. The Church has even more need today of this fidelity of yours, which constitutes a distinctive sign of your Order, in this era which warns of the urgency of transmitting in an integral manner to our contemporaries — distracted by many discordant voices — the unique and immutable message of salvation which is the Gospel.” “That this might come to pass, it is indispensable (…) that the life of the members of the Society of Jesus, as also their doctrinal research, be always animated by a true spirit of faith and communion in ‘humble fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium’.” (…)

“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.”

On Saturday, January 19, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás became  the 29th successor of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Born on April 29, 1936 in Palencia (Spain), he entered the novitiate of Aranjuez in the Province of Toledo on September 15, 1953. After obtaining his BA in philosophy, he left Spain to continue his study of theology in Japan where he was ordained  priest in Tokyo on March 17, 1967. He subsequently obtained his Master’s in Theology at the Gregorian University (Rome). Fr. Adolfo Nicolás is fluent in Spanish, Japanese, English, French, and Italian.

A Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated on Sunday, January 20, in the Church of the Gesù to which the congregation  processed from the Curia Generalizia. The new Superior General exhorted his brethren to bring the message of salvation to all nations:

“Today all nations are gathered here. Each and every one is represented here. However, nations continue to appear. I ask myself today who are these ‘nations’, these non geographical communities, these human communities which ask for our help: they are the poor, the marginalized, the outcast. In our globalized universe, the number of absolute outcasts is increasing. The outcasts are failing, because in our society there is only room for the great and not for the little ones. All those who are disadvantaged, manipulated, all these are perhaps for us these ‘nations’:  nations which need the prophetic message of God, (…) as when Paul addressed the influential churches of his time, and asked their support for the poor in Jerusalem. Do not forget the poor: they are our ‘nations’. They are the nations for which salvation is still a dream, a wish. It may be in their midst, but they know it not.

“And what about the others? The others are our collaborators, if they share this viewpoint, if they have the same heart as that which was given us by Christ. And if they have a heart still greater, and an even vaster vision, then we shall be their collaborators. What matters is the health, the salvation, the joy of the poor.” (Source: Society of Jesus)