New Jesuit Superior Renews Obedience to Pope

Pontiff Calls Practice a “Good Custom”

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2008 ( Benedict XVI considers the Jesuit tradition that newly elected superiors-general renew their obedience to the Pope a “good custom.”

The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving the newly elected superior-general of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás, reported the General Curia of the Jesuits in a communiqué.

Father Nicolás, 71, was elected Jan. 19 to lead the order, founded in the 16th century by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He succeeds Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, 79, who presented his resignation after having led the Society for nearly 25 years.

During the audience Father Nicolás handed an envelope to the Holy Father in which he renewed in writing his obedience to the Pope, fulfilling a Jesuit tradition for newly elected superiors-general of the Society.

In addition to this tradition for those leading the order, obedience to the Pope in missionary matters is the fourth vow that all Jesuits make alongside the traditional three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

“The Pope opened the envelope right away and read the vows,” reported the Jesuits. Then he said, “This is a very good custom.”

To serve

The Spanish Priest reaffirmed “his personal respect for the Vicar of Christ as well as the esteem of the whole Society of Jesus,” as well as the “desire of the society to serve the Church all over the world.”

The General Curia of the Jesuits reported that the Holy Father “encouraged the Jesuit leader to continue with dialogue with culture and evangelization and to ensure a thorough formation of young Jesuits.”

The Jesuits reported that the Holy Father was pleased to hear a committee had been formed to study the letter he sent Jan. 10 to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the order’s 35th General Congregation.

In the letter Benedict XVI wrote: “It could prove extremely useful that the General Congregation reaffirm, in the spirit of St. 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 Friday, Father Nicolas held a press conference in Rome in which he maintained: “The Society of Jesus has always been, from the beginning, in communion with the Holy Father, and will always be.

“The Society wants to collaborate with the Holy See, to obey the Holy Father. This has not changed, and never will.”

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