Pope and Jesuits-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
ONE Jesuit said that Pope Francis “was not in the short list, long list or any kind of list.”
Those words spoke a lot, as there was a time when Jesuits were banished in 1773 (including the Philippines) from its missions not due to theological grounds, but on political and economic reasons when Spain, Portugal and France were ruled by monarchs.
The Jesuits had become too powerful that the monarchs (and some Vatican insiders) felt threatened. Today the leader of the Catholic Church is a Jesuit.
I spent the first quarter of my life as a parishioner of a Jesuit-administered parish, the Sacred Heart Parish along D. Jakosalem St. But all those years, I thought the priests, all foreign, were detached and unapproachable. True that they delivered sermons that may have molded my young mind but they seemed distant to me. Even when I joined one of the choirs, I could not recall a time when a priest even commended our singing.
It was not helpful for one coming from public schools (I studied in Cebu Normal School and Abellana National School) as there was that general perception among students in public schools that the Jesuit-run school, Sacred Heart School for Boys was an institution for the elite and the rich. I observed this as a boy scout during parades and jamborees where SHS Boy Scouts carried an air of confidence and arrogance.
I talked to a work colleague who graduated from De La Salle University in Manila, and she confirmed that some Ateneo de Manila University graduates she knew do have that “superiority complex”.
But I must say though that a number of SHS alumni that I’ve encountered have shown their care for the community especially the vulnerable in society through charitable institutions and private foundations. A humble and selfless Cebuano Jesuit who served as parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish once provided me with spiritual guidance in a year-long program.
The Jesuits do attract the wealthy and the elite to their schools as parents only want their children to get the best education that the Jesuits are good at. In a way, the Jesuits are able to provide moral and spiritual grounding for the children of the wealthy and elite. Sadly, the few alumni who lack the values of humility and charity put the Jesuits in bad light.
First impressions are lasting, and what the world saw of the Jesuit Pope Francis was his humility. In his first address he said, “Now I would like to impart the blessing, but first, first I ask a favor of you. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you pray to the Lord that He bless me: the prayer of the people asking a blessing for their bishop. Let us pray in silence, this your prayer for me.”
Let us pray for Pope Francis as he leads us in God’s pastures.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2013.