Friday, February 22, 2008
Benedict and the Jesuits
Pope Urges Jesuits to Commit to Orthodoxy by Francis X. Rocca
VATICAN CITY (RNS) For the second time in two months, Pope Benedict XVI urged leaders of the Catholic Church's largest religious order to affirm their commitment to orthodoxy in several controversial areas, including religious pluralism and human sexuality. Benedict made his remarks on Thursday at a meeting with delegates to the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.
The pope asked the Jesuits for their "renewed commitment to promote and defend Catholic doctrine," as a response to the "powerful negative forces" of contemporary life, including "subjectivism, relativism, hedonism (and) practical materialism."Citing a letter he wrote last month to the order's retiring leader, he repeated his appeal for assent to church teaching on "the relationship between Christ and religions, some aspects of the theology of liberation," divorce and homosexuality.
In recent years, the Vatican has censured several Jesuit theologians for deviations from orthodoxy on such matters as the uniqueness of the Catholic Church as a means of salvation and the compatibility of Christianity with the teachings of Karl Marx.While he praised the Jesuits for their extensive assistance to the needy, particularly refugees, Benedict also enjoined them to "rediscover the fullest sense" of their order's unique vow of obedience to the pontiff. That vow, the pope said "does not imply only the readiness to be sent on mission to distant lands, but also ... to `love and serve' the Vicar of Christ of Earth."
The pope's remarks are the latest evidence of tension between the order and the Holy See. At a Mass to open the Jesuit congregation last month, the Vatican official in charge of religious orders voiced "sorrow and anxiety" over the unwillingness of "some members of religious families" to "think with the church" and obey the hierarchy.