Pope Francis, SJ
As the Jesuit contributor to this blog, I feel like I’m expected to say something about Pope Francis. Needless to say, when my phone exploded with texts like “Is he a Jesuit!!!” I knew as little as anyone else. I immediately did some research and… sure enough. Quite exciting. I almost felt like I had done something right myself I was getting so many congratulations.
There has already been some good commentary on this, and I can already see some elements of his behavior as pope that I would label as “Jesuit.” But then again, they could also be labeled “Franciscan” or just “Christian.” The way he asked the crowd for a blessing, called the pope Bishop Emeritus rather than Pope Emeritus, rode the bus home from the Vatican with the other Cardinals rather than taking the papal limo. Or washed the feet of lay men and women on Holy Thursday. And the guy cooks his own meals! Of course, many Jesuits are know for talking social justice but not necessarily living it in their communities. Jokes abound about Jesuit poverty. But this guy seems to be the real deal.
I definitely like his choice of name as well. Being a Jesuit who went to a Franciscan university, the pairing is close to my heart. It is also a beautiful move of reconciliation, seeing as it was a Franciscan pope, Clement XIV, who suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773. So maybe this is to be taken as a token of reconciliation — not that anyone was keeping tabs. The taking of this name may be one of many early decisive moves to “rebuild my church,” the words from Christ from the San Damiano Cross to St. Francis.
Of course not all Jesuits are so happy . Many feel that Francis has connections to the “Dirty War” in Argentina from 1976-1983. Even worse, they feel that as many of the criminals of that period have been brought to trial, Bergoglio has been very protective of the Church and has withheld important information. Many of my Jesuit friends from Latin America for this reason are quite nervous — hopefully not for good reason. In the end, let us all pray that Francis will reform the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As for now, I can’t believe we have a Jesuit pope! I for one am quite excited.