PopeWatch: Jesuit Talk

Sandro Magister looks at comments that the Pope has recently made to his fellow Jesuits:


The account of the conversation between Francis and the Jesuits of Romania, which took place on the evening of May 31 at the nunciature in Bucharest, contains three passages on three topics that are particularly revealing of the pope’s thought.


The first has to do with the public accusations against Francis that he protected and promoted figures in spite of knowing about their sexual offenses, in particular former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Argentine bishop Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta.

With the Jesuits of Romania the pope did not revert to repeating that he had never known anything about the offenses of the one and the other. But he confirmed that he did not want to respond to these accusations, mustering in support of his silence two examples taken from the history of the Society of Jesus.

The first example is the meekness of the Jesuit Saint Peter Faber (1506-1547), which Francis contrasts with the combative temperament of his fellow Jesuit Saint Peter Canisius (1521-1597):

“You have to carry the burden of life and its tensions on your shoulders. […] You have to be patient and sweet. This is what Peter Faber did, the man of dialogue, of listening, of closeness, of the journey. Today is a time more for Faber than for Canisius, who was the man of the dispute. In times of criticism and tension we must do as Faber did, working with the help of the angels: he begged his angel to speak to the angels of others so that they might do with them what we cannot do. […] This is not the time to convince, to have discussions. If someone has a sincere doubt, yes, one can dialogue, clarify. But don’t respond to the attacks.”

The second example is given by the letters – collected in a volume edited by the Jesuits of “La Civiltà Cattolica” – of the fathers general of the Society of Jesus during the period of the suppression of the order, in the second half of the eighteenth century:

“If you read that book, you will see that it says what should be done in moments of tribulation in the light of the Society’s tradition. What did Jesus do in the moment of tribulation and fury? He didn’t argue with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as he had done before when they tried to set traps. Jesus remained silent. There’s no talking at the moment of fierce fury. When persecution is taking place, […] you embrace the cross.”


The second revealing passage concerns the idea dear to Francis of the wisdom and innocence innate in the “people.” An idea that substantiates both his theological vision of the Church as the “santo pueblo fiel de Dios” and his typically “populist” political vision:

“Where can I find the greatest consolation? […] I find them with God’s people. […] God’s people understand things better than we do. God’s people have an understanding, the ‘sensus fidei,’ that corrects your line and puts you on the right path.”

In support of this vision of his Francis presented two anecdotes.

In the first he recounted that one day he had met an elderly woman with “precious, bright eyes,” who after a bit of small talk had told him that she prayed for him every day. And he retorted: “Tell me the truth: Do you pray for me or against me?” And the elderly woman: “Of course, I pray for you! Many others inside the Church pray against you!” Moral of the story: “True resistance [against the pope]  is not in the people of God who really feel they are the people.”

The other anecdote goes back instead to when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was an ordinary priest and went every year to the shrine of Nuestra Señora del Milagro in northern Argentina:

“There are always a lot of people there. One day after Mass, while I was leaving with another priest, a simple woman of the people approached. She was not a member of the ‘cultured elite.’ She had holy cards and crucifixes with her. She asked the other priest, ‘Father, bless me?’ And he – a good theologian – replied: ‘But you were in the Mass?’ And she says, ‘Yes, Father.’ And then he asks, ‘Do you know that the final blessing blesses everything?’ And the lady said, ‘Yes, Father.’ […] At that moment another priest was coming out, and my companion turned around to greet him. At that moment, the lady looked to me and said, ‘Father, will you bless me?’ There. You see? The lady accepted all the theology, of course, but she wanted that blessing! The wisdom of God’s people! The concrete! You may say, but it could be superstition. Yes, sometimes someone can be superstitious. But what matters is that God’s people are concrete. In the people of God we find the concreteness of life, of the true questions, of the apostolate, of the things we must do. The people love and hate and know how to love and hate.”


The third revealing passage, in the conversation with the Jesuits of Romania, concerns the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, a question still unresolved as long as the “dubia” presented by four cardinals go unanswered:

“We’re always at risk of falling into casuistry. When the synod on the family began, some said: ‘See, the pope summons a synod to give communion to the divorced.’ And they’re still saying so today! In reality, the synod took a step on the path in matrimonial morals, passing from the casuistry of decadent scholasticism to the true morals of St. Thomas Aquinas. That point at which ‘Amoris Laetitia’ speaks of the integration of divorcees, eventually opening up to the possibility of the sacraments, was developed according to the most classical morals of St. Thomas, the most orthodox, not the decadent casuistry of ‘one can or one cannot.’”

Go here to read the rest.  Never again a Jesuit Pope.



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  1. Decadent, decadent. Francis is so boring; a sophist who believes himself to be a philosopher. The dumb ox would punch Francis in the nose for sullying his name.

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