Jesuits from around the world meeting in Rome Monday accepted the resignation of their leader and will next week elect his successor.
Fr Adolfo Nicolás tendered his resignation as Superior General of the
Society of Jesus at the age of 80.
Now, 215 delegates have begun their
36th General Congregation (GC36) to determine who should be their next
leader and agree on priorities for the future.
Whoever is elected will
be only the thirtieth Superior General since their founder, St Ignatius
of Loyola was elected in 1540.
The delegates’ first step will be to absorb and discuss a document
called the De Statu Societatis, which sums up the state of the Society
in the world. Next, the assembly will have one to one conversations
known as murmuratio that will examine current needs and identify
candidates for Superior General. Campaigning for any candidate is
Personal ambition is frowned upon. The election is
expected before the end of next week.
Yesterday, at GC36’s opening Mass at the Jesuit Mother Church, the
Gesù, the Master of the Dominicans, Fr Bruno Cadoré, told congregation
members and other Jesuits based in Rome that they should combine
audacity and humility in their mission.
Referring to the day’s gospel reading in which the Apostles asked
Jesus to increase their faith, Fr Cadoré, told delegates they needed the
same mindset at their meeting because “it is daring to aim for the
He continued: “An assembly such as yours ... will without doubt move
between the duty of constantly calling the society to dare the audacity
of the ‘improbable’ and the evangelical willingness to do it with the
humility of those who know that, in this service where the human engages
all his energy, ‘everything depends on God’.”
The relationship between the Dominicans and Jesuits goes back to the
conversion of St Ignatius, who would ask himself, “If St Dominic did
such and such, why can I not?”
There is a tradition that, when the Superior General of the Jesuits
dies, the Master of the Dominican Order is invited to celebrate the
Superior generals are usually elected for life, but in 2006
the 29th general, Fr Hans Kolvenbach, told members that he
intended to step down two years later when he reached 80.
has followed in his footsteps.