This article was translated by John R. Bopp
We’ve been doing a lot of talking as of late about the Jesuits, the religious order that was founded by a Basque and to which the current pope, Francis, belongs to.
We found an article on the Argentine website Total News Agency called “A Franciscan Jesuit?”, which is full of interesting info. It’s about Juan Arias, and was published in the Spanish daily El País. But given that we found it on the Argentine website, we’re including it on our blog.
Without a doubt, the Second Vatican Council was a revolution for the Catholic Church (and, given the Church’s influence, for the world) that had huge consequences on the Society of Jesus, which, lest we forget, has a specific vow of obedience to the Pope; the Second Vatican Council and its sweeping changes in many respects were the projection of the vision of two popes, John XXIII and Paul VI, which were reinforced by the Council. So, Father Arrupe, the Basque Superior General of the Jesuits, understood what the mission of the Order was and hurried to become the first to adapt to the changes marked by the Church. It was a mission that they had maintained even as later popes abandoned a good chunk of the path marked out by the Council. So, the Jesuits had to balance their obedience to the Pope with their commitment to the decisions made by the most important governing body in the Church., Perhaps that’s why John Paul II and Benedict XVI preferred getting support from groups that were closer to their more conservative moral and social ideas. Perhaps, just perhaps, this new Jesuit pope takes the Church closer to the master plans laid out by the Vatican II.
All this is true, but it’s also true that the Franciscan vision attributed to the Pope Francisc is not a new element, or even a contemporary element, in the history of Jesuit priests. From the beginning, they have had a 360º view of what their mission was, and right from the start they starting offering education to the social elite, and took care of the education, care, and defense of the most helpless.
We don’t want to start repeating ourselves, as we’ve already blogged about this, but we will leave you with three examples of how the Jesuits, from the start, from their very origins, adopted a position of defense of the least fortunate, which led them to confrontations with the powers that be, their expulsion from many countries, their persecution, and even their martyrdom.
The first case is that of another Basque, like Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, or Pedro Arrupe. We’re talking about José de Anchieta, a missionary at the beginning of the colonization of Brazil, who defended the indigenous peoples with extreme bravery. We do find it curious that we have here another Jesuit Basque, who was serving the king of Portugal at the time.
The second example is that of the Jesuit reductions. Argentines know this well: they even have a province named after this: Misiones. These indigenous quasi-states were led by the Jesuits, and were created to defend the local populations from the persecution of the Europeans, and they were widespread throughout what is today Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.
The third and much more recent case is that of and the other Jesuits and laymen who were assassinated alongside him by members of the Armed Forces of El Salvador for defending the poor and for denouncing exploitation and injustice
All Jesuits are a bit Francisca, or at least they should be, since the influence of the views and the thoughts of this Italian saint are key to the conversion of St. Ignatius and to the creation of the Society of Jesus. It should come as no surprise, then, that this Jesuit who is now our Pope wants to show that influence off.
So let’s observe the Jesuits with that same 360º view that they apply when defining their mission, which should not, however, take the focus away from those elements within that religious community of true religious fanatics, intransigents, and totalitarians who have held back the true mission of the Catholic Church or the image of the Society of Jesus itself. But, since its origins, the Order has had a clear idea that they had an important mission to help the least fortunate, which is a very Basque attitude: silent, long-term, and with the objective of freeing people and societies.
Total News Agency – 15/3/2013 – Argentina
¿Un jesuita franciscano?