Like most of us I’m scrambling to learn more.
Here’s what I do know: Francis is a conservative Jesuit, but in some ways a revolutionary, as almost all modern Jesuits are. He’s like Benedict in the sense of not having any restorationist impulses. He recognizes that the idea of princes of the Church is an anachronism. At the same time he’s against the emerging secular consensus in the West, which includes South America. He has engaged in conflicts with Cristina Kirchner in Argentina over gay marriage and gay adoption. She punches below the belt. He knows what the Church is up against.
I worked with Jesuits for twenty years. They break the rules. So far Pope Francis is true to form. He took an unprecedented name, which is the name of the most severe critic of the papacy before Martin Luther. He bowed to receive the crowd’s blessing.
The Spiritual Exercises serve as the central and powerful basis for Jesuit formation. This mode of interior union with God’s will can have a tremendous effect, which is why Jesuits really, really believe in what they’re doing. That makes them powerful forces in the Church, for good and for ill. The Church is an incredibly immobile institution, but this fellow may effect some changes.
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