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May 05, 2006

Comments

Bob Lozano

Well, this is quite a contrast to the roots of the Society of Jesus.

mulopwepaul

Would Kolvenbach support a Department of Bedtime Story Reading to make sure that children receive a good start on the path to literacy? How about a Ministry of Toilet Training?

It's all for the children, you know, or anyone else we can maintain in a childlike, dependent state of development.

PVO

Janice

Well, here's one more person who can't leave fast enough! Bob's right. They've forgotten their roots. Martini's another one.

Jimmy Huck

I don't understand the basis for the critical comments against the Jesuits expressed by Bob, mulopwepaul, and Janice. Is the complaint against Kolvenbach (and, by extension, the Jesuits) that he has misread "Deus caritas est" and that Benedict really doesn't argue that "establishing a just society is exclusively the province of the State"? Or is it that Kolvenbach is correct in his impression, but that his subsequent critique of the "Church/State/Just Society" dynamic laid out by Benedict is wrong?

Celine

Jimmy Huck:

I don't get it either. I think they are just sneering at a Jesuit for being critical of a pope when Jesuit tradition would seem to require Jesuits to be especially obedient, some say servile, to popes.

Matthew

Actually , I think Kolvenbach is right on the money. I think this was Benedict's point - I happen to agree with it. Upon first reading of DCE my immediate thought was that this was, hopefully, a death knell for the the 1968 Gospel reduced to Social Justice. Someone once said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." The pope seems to take Him at His Word.
Matthew

Nathan

Why is it that every time a Jesuit (other then Mitch Pacwa or the late John Hardon) speaks, a peanut gallery besmirches the whole Society of Jesus? Fr. Kolvenbach did not say anything negative about Pope Benedict, he merely stated that his ideas about the role of establishing a just society differed from those of P. Benedict. This is not suprising if you read documents from the 34th GC of the SJ.

N

chris K

But the Church and the State must always run parallel because the vision of the Church cannot be limited to the state's vision in any particular time or place. The state will always have a temporary outlook of necessity, but the Church is to have her sights set on the Kingdom coming, the Divine Will being lived on earth as it is in heaven. This takes more than simply working with the functionality of a worldly state view. The state will benefit, thus, from all that the Church encompasses, but it can never be linked completely until, by the grace of God, the two will become more closely united in God's own plan. Fr. Kolvenbach seems too much concerned with somehow linking faith with worldly justice instead of influencing within the greater understanding of God as Love. Until then, the twain shall not meet completely, but only wave in passing. Meanwhile love must always continue in the background while the limitations of temporal justice, so often politically marred, continue their ebb and flow.

Torquemada

"he merely stated that his ideas about the role of establishing a just society differed from those of P. Benedict."

No.

He 'merely' stated that the Pope's 'ideas' concerning the role of the Church in establishing a just society are wrong.

Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states (n.º25) that:

"religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will." (http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html)

I am having a little difficulty reconciling the father-general's 'ideas' with Vatican II's teachings !

Maybe Lumen Gentium's teachings don't apply to those who have made a solemn fourth vow of obedience to the Pope.

Mark Andrews

It would be helpful if someone could out line at least a few significant differences - if any exist - between Fr. Kolvenbach and/or the last Jesuit GC, and the Holy Father's latest encyclical.

Mike Hayes

I agree with the sentiment Nathan noted above. The responders (not Amy) here always seem to jump on the entire society whenever anyone thinks about mentioning a Jesuit.

If people did that about certain "kooks" in the Legionaires, or the Friars of the Renewal, or the Sisters of Life, and lumped them into one basket, they'd act like we just ran over their kitten.

There's good and bad in every segment of society. It might do us all a world of good to talk about whom we like rather than witch-hunting.

Maureen O'Brien

It seems to me that the Pope is saying that a just society is the Church's business -- but primarily, the Church as laypeople and individuals. This seems self-evident. If nothing else, the clergy and religious have a lot to do without reordering society.

But what's really interesting is this -- that Kolvenbach takes the tack of saying the Pope's wrong. Not "well, we as an order are pretty much the functional equivalent of an individual person" or "mostly it's the lay faithful's business, but of course we religious and clergy must support them closely and urge them on".

No nuance at all, in fact. Just a denial, to a popular Pope and a popular encyclical, and to a statement which seems to outsiders to be very gentle. You'd think even a lame duck member of the hierarchy would be more politic.

mulopwepaul

Kolvenbach is the head of the Jesuits; he's not just a random crank within the order who has no constituency other than his own hobbyhorses.

He also plays to his "social justice" base in a particularly underhanded way by attempting to undermine the plain meaning of the text where it conflicts with his own personal vision of justice, rather than considering the possibility that his vision is not the same as the Church's.

The Jesuits in America have done something similar with the instruction on the ordination of homosexuals, arguing that the plain meaning must be a mistake, basically because they didn't like it.

The Jesuits have lost the presumption of orthodoxy through 40 years of steady politicisation of their order and refusal to discipline. I'm sure there are nice and orthodox Jesuits out there, but the ones I knew personally have all died of old age, and the others somehow can't get the same media attention as the dissidents, Cardinal Dulles notwithstanding.

PVO

Glenn Juday

It could be that Fr. Kolvenbach misunderstood what the pope wrote. But I tend to think that Fr. Kolvenbach is highly intelligent and does not misunderstand.

It could be that Fr. Kolvenbach is afraid that the deliniation of responsibilities that the pope has outlined will result in the de-emphasis of the highly worldly, politically engaged, and somewhat didactic approach to religious vocation that has characterized the works of the Society of Jesus in the last 35 years.

If so, this would call into question the entire strategy and perspective of the Society for the last several decades. It would make the Society's record in carrying out their new program, including tense and nasty relationships with popes and the curia and the society's specific actions to embrace the radical gay and feminist perspectives, appear bitterly ironic.

Strong motivation, I would think, to try to call into question the first, and most urgent formal teaching of a new pope, on (1) the fundamental issue of who God is, (2) what the Church is and how the Church sees itself, and (3) how the Church is to operate in society.

There is much room for thinking and adjusting point 3. There is not much point in being a Catholic if points 1 and 2 are up for fundamental alteration (leaving aside the issue of greater insight that come from the development of doctrine).

And how depressing it would all be, if after a virtual take-over of the apparatus of the society, the formidable resources of brainpower the society had early in the process, the great strides made in de-sacralizing the society and the concept the laity have of theChurch itself, it all comes to very little in the end because traditional teaching of the Church is affirmed after all and despite all.

It must have seemed so promising at one time. Where has the project all gone?

Stephen

Okay, the responders, like Torquemada and mulopwepaul, are EXACTLY right. The Jesuits are rotten, really rotten, and Fr. Kolvenbach, because he had the audacity to say that it's the responsibility of state and the Church to build a just society, is a heretic who should be burned at the stake. And then we'll move on to the rest of the Jesuits. Yes, and then let's get rid of those that don't think like ME, YES!
I AM THE ONLY PURE/PERFECT/ORTHODOX/DEVOTED/CATHOLIC!!!!!!!!

(irony off-in case you don't get it)

mulopwepaul

It would be more productive to respond to our observations rather than hyperbolically to lampoon them, unless your ridicule is offered to avoid engaging any point substantially.

The Jesuits need a housecleaning, but that's not going to happen as long as everyone just walks on by and looks the other way. I'm not for kicking anyone out of the Church, but I do believe that people teaching error publicly need to be publicly challenged.

PVO

Old Zhou

Relevant sections of "Deus Caritas Est." It seems that the General did not read this very thoroughtly.

28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered:

a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”. Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere. The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.

....

Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.

The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.

b) Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable. The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

29. We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.” The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as “social charity”.

....

Notice this from n. 29:


The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.”

It is not the task of the hierarchy, or the clergy, or even the Jesuits. It is the task of the laity.

What the Jesuits, as well as the clergy and hierarchy in general should be doing, is:

the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest.

the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

A bit different than the view from the 1960's and 1970's of clergy being directly involved in politics, while leaving the laity to "figure it out" for themselves.

Donald R. McClarey

The "black pope" needs to remember his oath of obedience to the real pope.

Jimmy Huck

Regardless of the current state of Jesuit conformity to papal authority within the Catholic communion, let us remember that these complaints about the Jesuits are nothing new. Those who claim the Jesuits have somehow lost their way over the last 40 years do not really know the history of the Society; for, if they did, they would know that the Jesuits have been seen this way since their founding, even being suppressed and dismantled for a period in the late 18th Century under similar charges.

I always remember what the late, great Harry Tomson, SJ, of the New Orleans Province, used to say in his booming, expansive, and unapologetic voice: "They always go after the best. When that stops happening, then you need to worry."

mulopwepaul

They may or may not have been lost in the past (although they were certainly criticised), but that has no bearing on their endorsement of an effectively liberation theologist understanding of social justice as the default Jesuit approach since the election of Kolvenbach's predecessor.

Some who defend the Jesuits may not understand the significance of the 32nd General Congregation (1975) in which the Jesuits declared themselves an essentially political as well as religious organisation, effectively obliterating the separation between Church and State.

Something major occurred to the Jesuits worldview between 1965 and 1975, and it is naive to write that change off by saying effectively, "well, the brilliant will always have their detractors."

PVO

anonymous seminarian

Glenn and mulopwepaul are absolutely right. It is no coincidence that this criticism is coming from the head of the Jesuits. The ideal of the Jesuits as it has been lived out in the past 30 years is going to need to be reinterpreted. Fr. Kolvenbach is right in seeing in Benedict's recapituation and deepening of the teaching of Vatican II ideas that are incommensuable with how the Jesuits have defined themselves in recent decades. The Society needs to make a painful readjustment and reinterpret their charism from the higher vantage point of the magesterial teaching of (especially) these last two pontificates. This is going to be a tough switch, but, contra many of the posters above, I believe the Order is up to it. I know many Jesuit scholastics who are not only the Order's future- but their hope. All manner of things will be well...

anonymous seminarian

Whoops, sorry for the typos.

anonymous

One of the issues brought up in this combox has been the secular character of the laity's apostolate. Check out these articles on the role of the laity written by the Jesuit and Dominican Presidents of their respective member schools at the GTU:

http://www.gtu.edu/page.php?nav=589

I think its a good case in point how many Jesuits seem to get it backwards with respect to the clerical/lay distinction. His article (Fr. Daust, SJ) focuses exclusively on "lay ministry" rather than the apostolic outwardly-directed (ad extra) vocation of the laity. Read the Fr. Sweeney's article for a marked contrast.

And while more and more lay people are trained to see their vocation in clerical terms, clergy are encrouching upon the (secular) mission of the laity. Wierd.

rcesq

This is a fairly literal translation from the Dutch of Father Kolvenbach's remarks. It appears that he was misquoted in the German Tagespost and that those of you who commented uncharitably about Father's opposition to Pope Benedict may want to rethink. He is not taking issue with the Pope's reasoning, but with those who would choose a crabbed reading of the encyclical:

[Interviewer]: "Do Jesuits expressly strive for a world that is more just?"

[Fr. Kolvenbach]: "The substantial link between faith and justice in the study and exercise of our spirituality cannot be eliminated. Although the concrete working out is not as self-evident or easy. That will certainly have to be discussed at length at the next General Congregation. If we, as Jesuits and as Church strive for justice, we don't do that for political reasons, but because Christ himself always made a choice for the poor and we want to follow Him in that. Therefore, everything in social work must be an expression of the Gospels. How that can take a concrete shape is a question that still has not been solved.

From the first encyclical of Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, we could get the impression that justice remains exclusively the province of the state, while caritas is the work of the Church. To me that does not appear to be a correct interpretation [of the encyclical]. Faith and justice are not parallel actions. They belong together, because they are inspired by the same caritas. Justice without caritas is injustice, and faith without caritas is faith without works."

mulopwepaul

In other words:

"The text can't possibly mean what it says; I've been doing something else entirely, and I couldn't be wrong."

PVO

MARIA-TERESA MANUEL

For the record, when I posted my translation of the Tagespost article on the Papa Ratzinger Forum, I did include in parenthesis after that egregious quote attributed to him that I hoped Fr. Kolvenbach was misquoted, because the statement was, to say the least, startling, the adjective I used when I made the post.

And when I called attention to the item, I wrote Amy I was hoping someone would come up with a French or German translation of the full interview as I don't know Flemish (the interview having originally appeared in a Flemish magazine), so we could know exactly what Fr. Kolvenbach said.

Now, thanks to rcesq who translated from the Dutch, it seems quite clear that Fr. Kolvenbach was clearly misrepresented in the Tagespost article insofar as that quote was concerned, by the simple expedient of their omitting the sentence that followed, which said "To me that does not appear to be a correct interpretation..." - which makes a world of difference!

And I apologize to Fr. Kolvenbach for passing on an item that turns out to be a significant example of tendentious journalism, or as rcesq put it, journalism with an agenda, because I cannot believe that any translator from the original to German would have dropped the sentence that made all the difference! I will see how I can get a protest to Tagespost about this terrible breach.

I have posted rcesq's comment and translation on our forum to correct the story.

MARIA-TERESA MANUEL

For the record, when I posted my translation of the Tagespost article on the Papa Ratzinger Forum, I did include in parenthesis after that egregious quote attributed to him that I hoped Fr. Kolvenbach was misquoted, because the statement was, to say the least, startling, the adjective I used when I made the post.

And when I called attention to the item, I wrote Amy I was hoping someone would come up with a French or German translation of the full interview as I don't know Flemish (the interview having originally appeared in a Flemish magazine), so we could know exactly what Fr. Kolvenbach said.

Now, thanks to rcesq who translated from the Dutch, it seems quite clear that Fr. Kolvenbach was clearly misrepresented in the Tagespost article insofar as that quote was concerned, by the simple expedient of their omitting the sentence that followed, which said "To me that does not appear to be a correct interpretation..." - which makes a world of difference!

And I apologize to Fr. Kolvenbach for passing on an item that turns out to be a significant example of tendentious journalism, or as rcesq put it, journalism with an agenda, because I cannot believe that any translator from the original to German would have dropped the sentence that made all the difference! I will see how I can get a protest to Tagespost about this terrible breach.

I have posted rcesq's comment and translation on our forum to correct the story.

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