Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Tom Reese’

American Jesuits React to News of Historic Announcement of Their Brother Jesuit’s Election as Pope

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Jesuit brethren of the new Pope Francis I were as surprised as anyone when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was announced March 13 as the first Jesuit to be elected pope. Jesuit Father Gerard Stockhausen, executive secretary of the Jesuit Conference USA, told Catholic News Service that when Cardinal Bergoglio’s name was announced from the Vatican balcony, he didn’t realize immediately that it was a fellow member of the Society of Jesus, the religious order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534. Jesuits generally don’t seek higher offices in the church, Father Stockhausen said. “There are relatively few who are bishops even. We don’t ordinarily take on those posts.” Even the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters: “Personally, I’m a bit shocked to have a Jesuit pope. Jesuits think of themselves as servants, not authorities in church.” “Jesuits resist being named bishop or cardinal. To be named pope — wow,” Father Lombardi said. “Must have been result of strong call.” In Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Jesuit Father Regino Martinez, called it “a moment of great hope and opportunity for the church.” He said Pope Francis as the first Latin American pope also offers “an opportunity to support the work being done in the Latin American church and a show of support for Latin Americans.” Father Stockhausen said that even those Jesuits who do become cardinals “tend not to move in ‘cardinal circles,’ where they get to know each other. That’s not our world.” He acknowledged that Jesuits are generally thought of as highly educated, and “men of the world.” There’s a saying that goes “‘Francis (of Assisi) loved the countryside, Dominic loved the countryside and Ignatius loved the cities,’ we’re ‘worldly’ in the good sense of the word,” he said. Jesuits also have a reputation for being careful decision-makers, particularly if they follow the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, said Father Stockhausen. The exercises lead one to make decisions not out of personal interests or attachments, he said, but out of where the Spirit is leading through prayer.

Pope Francis I appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. (CNS/Paul Haring)

As Jesuits across the United States watched in wonder as one of their own was elected to the papacy for the first time in history yesterday, it wasn’t long before the phones started ringing as news outlets called upon American Jesuits to comment on the significance of the unexpected and momentous news. From “CBS This Morning” and USA Today to NBCNews.com and The Boston Globe to daily newspapers and local news affiliates across the country, Jesuits were asked to reflect on the significance of the election of Pope Francis.

Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine, and Jesuit Father Tom Reese were barraged with media requests in Rome, and Jesuit Father James Martin appeared on many outlets, including CNN.com and NPR. Many Jesuits expressed shock, saying they never thought they’d see a Jesuit pope.

Jesuit Father Scott Pilarz, president of Marquette University in Milwaukee, appeared on “CBS This Morning” where he said friends had recently asked him if there would ever be a Jesuit pope and he responded, “Absolutely not.”

But, Fr. Pilarz continued, “In extraordinary moments and times, the church has looked to members of the Society of Jesus to play these leadership roles. I think it’s recognition that the church is at one of those moments.”

Jesuit Father Gerard Stockhausen, executive secretary of the Jesuit Conference USA, told Catholic News Service that when Cardinal Bergoglio’s name was announced from the Vatican balcony, he didn’t realize immediately that it was a fellow member of the Society of Jesus.

“Jesuits generally don’t seek higher offices in the church,” Fr. Stockhausen said. “There are relatively few who are bishops, even. We don’t ordinarily take on those posts.”

Jesuit Father Robert Ballecer of the Jesuit Conference explained to NPR why so many were surprised — but why it wasn’t impossible for a Jesuit to be elected. “We have a vow that we will not seek out office. But there have been cases where offices seek us out,” Fr. Ballecer said.

Jesuit Father Michael Sheeran, president-elect of the American Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, described the new pope and his Jesuit principles to NBCNews.com. “Pope Francis took the bus to work every day. He sold the cardinal’s residence and lived in a small apartment where he cooked for himself.”

“That simplicity hides a steely determination to advance Jesuit principles, especially on the importance of traditional Catholic teachings and protection of the poor and the oppressed,” Fr. Sheeran said.

Jesuit Father Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola University Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune that he could envision Francis championing the poor from his position as pontiff.

“Coming out of Latin America, he is very familiar with the plight of the disadvantaged where the divide between rich and poor is very striking,” he said.

Jesuit Father Jack Butler, vice president for mission and ministry at Boston College, told The Boston Globe he was both shocked and excited. “I was flabbergasted, because Jesuits aren’t supposed to be popes, and Jesuits aren’t supposed to be bishops, and yet I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say as a Jesuit it gave me a great sense of joy and pride.”

Jesuit Father Douglas Marcouiller, provincial for the Missouri Province Jesuits, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Jesuits “don’t generally serve as bishops unless the circumstances are rather unusual. I think that that there is a tradition of not seeking roles that require a good deal of power, in order to serve the poor.”

Fr. Marcouiller added, “I think it is quite clear that Pope Francis has the gift of humility that will allow him to use that power and to exercise that ministry in a very effective way.”

He admitted that seeing a Jesuit in the robes of a pope would take some getting used to. “I think it will be a shock for the entire order,” Fr. Marcouiller said with a laugh.

Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., helped explain the Society of Jesus to several major news outlets, including Time magazine and USA Today. “Most people will know of Jesuits because of their schools,” Fr. O’Brien said.

“To be a Jesuit today is to serve the church and the world,” Fr. O’Brien told USA Today. “The church has been sidetracked by sexual and financial scandals. Now, it’s about getting back to the basics. It’s about preaching the gospel and helping the poor.”

Jesuit Father Myles Sheehan, provincial of the New England Province Jesuits, told the West Hartford News, “Although we are, of course, excited about the Holy Father’s Jesuit roots, we are more excited about his ministry to the Universal Church and pray for courage and wisdom for him as he begins this journey of faith.”

Below is video of Fr. Pilarz’s appearance on “CBS This Morning”.

Jesuits React to Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI waving“I didn’t see it coming,” said Jesuit Father Stephen Sundborg about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, echoing the thoughts of many Catholics. Pope Benedict’s announcement that he will resign on Feb. 28 makes him the first pope to step down in over 600 years. Here are some reactions and commentary from U.S. Jesuits on the pope’s resignation:

Fr. Sundborg told KOMO News Radio he thinks it means that “this is a very thoughtful pope. He sees he doesn’t have the energy to carry on as pope beyond what his current age and strength is. I think people will respect this [decision].”

Fr. Sunborg went on to say that he thinks Benedict will be remembered as “the pope theologian.”

“He was an expert at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. He wrote very extensively about the Gospels. He tried to re-engage culture in a positive way.” Listen to all of Fr. Sundborg’s comments at the KOMO News Radio website.

Jesuit Father George Coyne, a former director of the Vatican Observatory who teaches at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., said Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down because of poor health is in keeping with the pope’s character.

“I think it was a very courageous move, a very good move,” said Fr. Coyne, who knew Benedict as a cardinal for many years. “I think he had a very personal conviction that he could not carry on the job because of general health conditions.”

Benedict “lived through the aging of John Paul II, and I think that very much influenced him,” Fr. Coyne said. “He didn’t want to see the church go through another period like that.” For more from Fr. Coyne, visit Syracuse.com.

Jesuit Father James Martin, of America magazine, tweeted, “The Holy Father’s resignation is a selfless and noble act done for the good of the Church he has loved and served for his entire life.”

On America’s website, Fr. Martin also wrote about the pope’s legacy: “His most lasting legacy, I would suggest, will not be in the various ‘newsworthy’ acts of his papacy that were highlighted in the media so often … but something far more personal: his books on Jesus. Far more people will most likely read those moving testaments to the person who is at the center of his life—Jesus of Nazareth—than may read all of his encyclicals combined.”

Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen also wrote about the pope’s legacy on America magazine’s website, noting some of the pope’s contributions during his tenure:

“His encyclical Caritas in Veritate, with its affirmation of structural reform as ‘political charity’ and his call for a global authority to regulate the financial sector, may be the most radical since John XXIII’s Pacem in terris 50 years ago. Though not a diplomat himself, he conducted extraordinary visits to Turkey, Britain and the Holy Land. His address to the British leadership in Westminster Hall was both a diplomatic and personal triumph.”

Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, president of Regis University in Denver, told the Denver Post that the news was shocking in its impact, but he believed there had been signs.

“I think the Holy Father, Benedict, has signaled in a number of ways he’ was very open to a more humane response to the human realities behind such offices,” Fr. Fitzgibbons said.

Fr. Fitzgibbons said Benedict will be remembered for carrying on John Paul II’s “glowing understanding that this is a worldwide church, and he moved further away from Euro-centrism by appointing cardinals that came from all over the world.”

As for what happens next, Jesuit Father Thomas Reese offers a helpful Q-and-A on the papal transition, conclave and election of new pope on America’s website.

Jesuit Discusses the Clergy and the Recession

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Jesuit Father Tom Reese, director of the Public Policy Program at Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., was recently a guest on Interfaith Voices, a religious news magazine on public radio.

The episode on religion and the recession explored how the clergy in the country are handling it: what they are preaching to congregations where many are losing their jobs and their homes.

Fr. Reese tells host Maureen Fiedler, “We have to reach out and remind people of God’s compassion and love. Because when you lose your job, you lose your sense of value. You feel powerless … Religious communities have to reach out to these people and say ‘No, you are still important, you are valued and loved by God.’”

You can listen to the audio broadcast below or by going to Interfaith Radio’s website.

Jesuit Father Tom Reese Discusses the Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform at Georgetown/On Faith’s Blog

andyouwelcomed2Jesuit Father Tom Reese, Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, regularly contributes to the Georgetown/On Faith blog, a partnership between Georgetown University and Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive designed to provide knowledge, inform debate and promote greater dialogue and understanding across religious traditions.

In this week’s blog post, Fr. Reese highlights discussions that took place at last night’s Woodstock Forum “Honoring Human Dignity and the Common Good: A Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform”. The forum was moderated by Jill Marie Gerschutz, migration policy director and outreach coordinator for the Jesuit Conference of the United States, who with Donald M. Kerwin, Jr.,vice president for programs at the Migration Policy Institute, edited And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Thought

Here is an excerpt from Fr. Reese’s latest post:

Octavio Gonzalez, a graduate of Georgetown University, would be picking corn and raising a few cattle in El Teul de Gonzalez, Mexico, if his father had not illegally trekked across the hills at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Ysidro, California, in 1969. 

Mr. Gonzalez never planned to stay permanently in the U.S., but he wanted something better for his children after he married a woman who had also crossed into the U.S. illegally after being turned back by a border guard who refused to let her cross even though she had a valid visa. 

“As much as they both wanted to stay with their families in Mexico, it was becoming clear to them that their aspirations for their children would not be possible living in Mexico,” Octavio explained to a forum sponsored by the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University on Tuesday. “If they stayed to raise a family in Mexico, their children, like them, would go to school six months out of the year and work the fields on the ranch. We would certainly never get the opportunity to study through college.”

The Gonzalez family story exemplifies that “A migrant is a person possessed by a dream, just like you and me,” as Bishop Gerald Kicanas, vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, told a Georgetown audience last month. “They’re trying to improve their lives, live their lives with some dignity, with some semblance of value and meaning.”

Speaking at the same forum as Octavio Gonzalez, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick explained why the Catholic Church supports comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship. The church’s teaching on immigration is based on the fact that “We are all brothers and sisters in God’s one family,” he said. Or as Pope Benedict XVI said in his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate: “Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance.”

Read more of Fr. Reese’s post here.

Jesuit Father Tom Reese Discusses the Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform at Georgetown/On Faith's Blog

andyouwelcomed2Jesuit Father Tom Reese, Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, regularly contributes to the Georgetown/On Faith blog, a partnership between Georgetown University and Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive designed to provide knowledge, inform debate and promote greater dialogue and understanding across religious traditions.

In this week’s blog post, Fr. Reese highlights discussions that took place at last night’s Woodstock Forum “Honoring Human Dignity and the Common Good: A Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform”. The forum was moderated by Jill Marie Gerschutz, migration policy director and outreach coordinator for the Jesuit Conference of the United States, who with Donald M. Kerwin, Jr.,vice president for programs at the Migration Policy Institute, edited And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Thought

Here is an excerpt from Fr. Reese’s latest post:

Octavio Gonzalez, a graduate of Georgetown University, would be picking corn and raising a few cattle in El Teul de Gonzalez, Mexico, if his father had not illegally trekked across the hills at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Ysidro, California, in 1969. 

Mr. Gonzalez never planned to stay permanently in the U.S., but he wanted something better for his children after he married a woman who had also crossed into the U.S. illegally after being turned back by a border guard who refused to let her cross even though she had a valid visa. 

“As much as they both wanted to stay with their families in Mexico, it was becoming clear to them that their aspirations for their children would not be possible living in Mexico,” Octavio explained to a forum sponsored by the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University on Tuesday. “If they stayed to raise a family in Mexico, their children, like them, would go to school six months out of the year and work the fields on the ranch. We would certainly never get the opportunity to study through college.”

The Gonzalez family story exemplifies that “A migrant is a person possessed by a dream, just like you and me,” as Bishop Gerald Kicanas, vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, told a Georgetown audience last month. “They’re trying to improve their lives, live their lives with some dignity, with some semblance of value and meaning.”

Speaking at the same forum as Octavio Gonzalez, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick explained why the Catholic Church supports comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship. The church’s teaching on immigration is based on the fact that “We are all brothers and sisters in God’s one family,” he said. Or as Pope Benedict XVI said in his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate: “Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance.”

Read more of Fr. Reese’s post here.