Skip to comments.(Carl) Olson & (Russel) Shaw on the jesuits - Can the Jesuits Be Saved?
Posted on 02/26/2008 4:27:50 PM PST by NYer
Carl Olson points us to a Catholic Insight article by Russell Shaw called Can the Jesuits Be Saved?. He begins by recounting an incident told him by a friend who attended the screening at a Jesuit university of a video on the life of the Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe (1965-1983). Shaw continues:
Questions and discussion followed the video. Someone asked if Father Arrupe would be canonized a saint. According to my friend, the answer was: Not as long as the people currently in charge in Rome are calling the shots.
That strikes the authentic Jesuit note of the last 30 years: a little paranoid, more than a little petulant, quick to blame others -- preferably the Vatican -- for the Society's troubles. Members of a healthy-minded group with a sense of being in charge of their own destiny don't express themselves like that.
"Paranoid" may be an overstatement, but the rest of Shaw's point stands. One expects a certain amount of clannish defensiveness from a tightly structured corps like the Jesuits, but it's remarkable how often any criticism of the Society of Jesus is attributed by its members to malice.
Are the Society's critics malicious? Some are, no doubt. But there is a considerable number of Catholics who, like Shaw, are alumni of Jesuit schools or members of Jesuit parishes and who have unabashed gratitude for many of the blessings thereby received, and yet who don't buy the party line that -- with negligible exceptions -- the Jesuits are in good shape. Such critics are patently neither ill-willed nor ignorant, and to pretend otherwise only deepens the suspicion that the Society has lost its capacity for candid self-assessment. An unrelated article in today's Washington Post pointedly observes the phenomenon in another sphere of operation: "To keep the press from declaring the race over before the voters of Ohio and Texas have their say next week, Clinton aides have resorted to a mixture of surreal happy talk and angry accusation."
Surreal happy talk and angry accusation -- that sums up perfectly the program of many Jesuit apologists, for whom the most obvious and indisputable problems can be blithely waved into non-existence. Shaw writes:
Numbers illustrate the Society's long-running crisis but don't explain it. Forty years ago, there were 35,000 Jesuits in the world. Now, though they remain the Church's largest religious order of men, there are 19,000. More important than numerical decline, however, has been the group's sometimes troubled relationship with the Magisterium of the Church.
Sometimes the crisis is accounted for by finger-pointing ("tension with the Magisterium is the creation of scandal-hungry media") and sometimes it is trivialized ("all post-conciliar periods are decades of upheaval") but these are explanations that both giver and receiver find more consoling than convincing. Everyone, including the wagon-circling company men, must harbor a suspicion that if the energy devoted to denying the problems were devoted to solving them, the crisis would have been resolved by now. That raises a yet more delicate question: why would the Jesuits forbear from fixing the problems, unless the consequences of doing so were worse than inaction?
Carl Olson's post also discussed an editorial in the Georgetown student newspaper titled Where Have All the Jesuits Gone?. Their conclusion is that the Jesuits may not be absent, just silent. Yet another possibility is suggested by an article in one of Georgetown's alternative student publications, concerning three Jesuit faculty members gathered to "kick off" Georgetown's Jesuit Heritage Week this past January:
At a panel discussion about Jesuit identity earlier this week, Father John OMalley scanned the twenty or so faces in the spacious sitting room in Wolfington Hall. Fewer than half of the faces belonged to students, most of whom drifted out of the room before the discussion was finished.
" ... most of whom drifted out of the room before the discussion was finished." Were these students likely to be malicious, or cynical, or quick to find fault? Were they likely to be intellectually warped by the falsehoods and half-truths spread by conservative websites? Were they likely to be insufficiently attentive to the roaring Pentecostal afflatus in the room? The Jesuits manifestly were not silent on this occasion. Might it be the case that they had nothing to say?
There are still some Jesuits who merit attention. Fr. Mitch Pacwa being one.
I love Fr. Pacwa. I always learn so much from him on EWTN.
Fr. Fessio is another.
That said, I’m not sure about many of the rest of them. The new general strikes me as being a very slippery guy. Based on what he has written, he’s the arch-enemy of the Church and particularly of this Pope. But he’s approaching it in a very circumspect way, which will probably prevent any action from being taken against him until it’s too late.
I am very concerned about the Jesuits.
Which brings to mind the request of Abraham when God decided to smote Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18:20-33).
This site devoted to Ignatian spirituality has a list of “good” Jesuits (”that dare not speak”):
It might be a good idea if we could all say a prayer for the purification of the Jesuits.
Good idea! I say this one daily (old, but nice):
O Jesus, Eternal Priest;
keep all Your priests within the shelter of Your
Sacred Heart, where none may harm them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the
sublime marks of Your glorious priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and shield them
from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit,
and may the souls to whom they have ministered to
be their joy and consolation
and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown.
O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us;
obtain for us many holy priests.
That is a beautiful one. Why is it that all the old stuff is so beautiful?
I can't figure out if you are suggesting that the Jesuits or that San Francisco ought to be spared on account of Fr. Fessio?
Good to know.