Pope's election a break from Jesuit tradition, says priest-A A +A
Saturday, March 16, 2013
POPE Francis is assured of the support by his confreres in the Society of Jesus (SJ) from Cebu and other parts of the world.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was also lauded for being the first Filipino papabile in the last conclave.
"All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time," said Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. Superior General.
"The distinguishing mark of our Society is that it is... a companionship... bound to the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service," he said in a statement posted by Fr. Jason Dy, parochial vicar of Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred
Heart of Jesus, in Facebook and earlier published on Jesuit websites.
Dy said it was a common notion that it was impossible to have a Jesuit pope. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.
A Jesuit priest, unlike other religious congregations, has four vows. These are the
vows of chastity, obedience, poverty and obedience to the pope.
"It's ironic that we (Jesuits) have a pope that we have to give allegiance to," he said.
"We don't aspire for higher positions (because) we will not be free enough (to perform our apostolate). We will be tied up with our office," he said.
The Society was established in the 16th century by St. Ignatius Loyola with St. Francis Xavier and five other companions when they made the four vows. The congregation reached the Philippines in 1581 through Fr. Antonio Sedeño and companions.
It was 14 years after that they started to build in Cebu City, and other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The same congregation trained young men, like Visayan catechist and martyr St. Pedro Calungsod, who helped establish a mission station in the Marianas Islands in the 17th Century.
The Society has a long history of struggles in spreading the Gospel and establishing
learning institutions around the world.
"We (Jesuits) were born at a time when there was infighting in the Church," said Fr. Ernesto Javier, S.J., pastoral education ministry head.
He said St. Ignatius wanted his religious order to be in the service of the Church.
But not always.
"The Jesuits also oppose the Church. We have a relationship that is critical, filial and loyal. Sometimes there are many contradicting voices, but part of our spirituality is to discern, call for dialogues even if differing opinions are expressed," Javier said.
As part of the rules of the religious order, Pope Francis had to leave the Society
after his episcopal ordination.
"We would like to think (even after he left the congregation) that his way of life is that of a Jesuit," said Javier.
There are persistent rumors that the congregation has a so-called Black Pope, but this was clarified by the Cebu-based Jesuits.
Dy said the Father General of the religious order wears a black cassock or priestly vestments and that it is only the Pope who wears a white cassock in Rome, Italy.
"There is also the tradition that a Jesuit Father General takes on a lifetime position," he said.
Javier closely watched the conclave proceedings that selected Francis, who gained two-thirds of the votes cast. The 115 cardinal-electors cast five ballots within 24 hours, one of the fastest conclaves in the modern world.
"The central character (of Jesuits and religious congregations) should be closeness to Christ. For us, we also vow (to have) closeness and loyalty to the Vicar of Christ," he said.
Javier said he has apprehensions for the new pope because of the problems in the world today.
"Don't underestimate the well-entrenched Vatican bureaucracy," he said.
"He (Francis) is an outsider (in the Vatican), which is a disadvantage that our generalate is there. Our society will be at the service of the pope for delicate, critical (issues)," he said.
Meanwhile, Javier lauded Cardinal Tagle as the first Filipino cardinal named as papabile.
"It was the first conclave where a Filipino as a possible successor (to St. Peter) was mentioned. Tagle has already done the Filipinos a favor, we are already known," said Javier.
"We did not get a pope for the Philippine Church but in the bigger picture, we are in the radar of the universal church," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2013.