return to their founder's mission.
Questions St. Ignatius Would Ask the New Jesuit General
St. Ignatius Loyola would undoubtedly
be happy that a fellow Spaniard, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, is once again
at the helm of the Society of Jesus, but I doubt St. Ignatius would be
happy about the state of his order at this moment in church history.
While I have a healthy respect for the many good Jesuits I have known,
I can’t be as optimistic about their ability to pull off an internal
reform that would make this company, once known as the pope’s shock
troops, the pre-eminent force of orthodoxy and spiritual renewal in the
world. For this to happen, the Jesuits will need strong, decisive leadership—in
other words, Fr. Nicolás has his work cut out for him.
Fr. Nicolás has received
his share of accolades for his 40 years of missionary work and solid character,
but the “hard questions” have yet to be asked, and his accountability
is not merely to the Catholics waiting for a resurrection of this order,
but also to St. Ignatius himself, who will undoubtedly be posing the hardest
questions of all. I believe that the answers to these questions are what
will make or break our confidence in the new General’s leadership.
First and foremost, Ignatius
would ask if he was planning to use his authority to return Jesuit
universities to orthodoxy. The list of Jesuit university horror stories
is simply appalling to any decent Catholic let alone a saint like Ignatius.
When I was in Ecuador last November, the Jesuit university in Quito sponsored
a seminar on the “Theology of Che Guevara” (the radical companion
of Fidel Castro) as a legitimate public lecture. In America the horrors
range from ten Jesuit universities sponsoring the despicable V-Monologues
on campus this year, others hosting gay and lesbian student groups, one
giving scholarships for training in pro-abortion activism and many others
bestowing honorary degrees and speaking platforms to pro-abortion politicians
in commencement ceremonies. What will be done about this?
Second, Ignatius would want
to know whether Fr. Nicolás will discipline dissenting theologians
in their ranks before the US Bishops or the Vatican have to. Fr.
Peter Phan of Georgetown is the most recent example, but other “theologians”
like ex-priest Daniel McGuire at Marquette and at least one Jesuit “ethicist”
who endorsed the killing of Terri Schiavo are outright predators on the
faith of young souls and need to be removed. Then there is the nagging
scandal of deceased Jesuit, Robert Drinan. Fr. Drinan was a US Congressman
in the 70s with a 100% pro-abortion voting record and was never once disciplined
by his superiors for his blatantly heretical positions. In fact, he was
so benignly pardoned by his superiors that Georgetown Law School rewarded
him with an honorary Endowed Chair for human rights!
Third, what will be done to
purge the Jesuits of its misfits, Ignatius would ask. For a starter,
Fr. Nicolás could show his seriousness in reform by suspending
and removing from office Fr. Michael McFarlane, president of Holy Cross
College in Worcester, Massachusetts, who flagrantly disobeyed the directive
of Bishop Robert McManus not to allow a pro-abortion group to meet on
campus. Better yet, he should remove Fr. McFarlane’s Provincial
who stood by in silent assent to this disgraceful conduct. He might also
clean up the ranks of the Jesuit sex offenders who have cost various Jesuit
Provinces more than $60 million in lawsuits in the past decade, including
the largest single payout from a religious order in history for more than
a hundred victims.
Jesuits ranks have thinnedfrom 38,000 Jesuits worldwide in 1965 to
about half that number today.Their average age is rising and their
seminaries are anything but full.There is a reason for that: lack of
orthodoxy coupled with toleration of dissent and misconduct
in the ranks. Only strong leadership and a return
to discipline will restore the Jesuits to their position as the world’s
pre-eminent defenders of the Faith—and, like the rest of us, St.
Ignatius will surely be watching.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International