Adolfo Nicolas, S.J.
Spaniard becomes Jesuits' new "black pope"
By Stephen Brown
, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Spaniard Adolfo Nicolas was elected the Jesuits' "black pope", as the head of the largest and perhaps most influential, controversial and prestigious Catholic order is known, in a secret conclave .
Nicolas, 71, has run Jesuit operations in east Asia and Oceania since 2004 and spent most of his career in the Far East after being ordained inin 1967.
The order said in a statement that Nicolas had been elected to succeed Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who received permission fromto retire as head of the order formally known as the Society of Jesus at the age of 79.
Jesuit superior generals are known as "black popes" because, like the pontiff, they wield worldwide influence and usually keep their position for life -- and because their simple cassock is black, in contrast to the pope who dresses in white.
The 468-year history of the Jesuit order has often included stormy relations with the. Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul, believed the order had become too independent, leftist and political, particularly in .
Soft-spoken, white-haired Dutchman Kolvenbach won widespread praise for mending relations with theduring his years in the post, after conflicts between his charismatic Basque predecessor and Pope John Paul.
Kolvenbach also had to deal with declining vocations and the future of the order founded by St Ignatius Loyola in 1540.
In the 1960s, the all-male order peaked with some 36,000 members worldwide. It now has about 19,200 members involved in education, refugee help and other social services.
The general congregation that elected Nicolas gathered 217 electors from all over the world at Jesuit headquarters, a block from the.
They spent four days in prayer and what is known in Latin as "murmuratio", or murmurings, about who should be elected. It is strictly forbidden to lobby for the post and anyone actively seeking the job must be 'turned in' by the other delegates.
The election is by secret ballot and delegates are not allowed to leave the room untilis informed who has won, in keeping with a tradition that the "white pope" is first to know who is the new "black pope".
But unlike a conclave to elect the pontiff, a Jesuit general congregation can continue for weeks or even months after the election to discuss future challenges and priorities.
© Reuters 2007.
CITIES 'THE VATICAN - The Jesuit Adolfo Nicolas is the new "black pope". He was elected on the second ballot the General Congregation gathered at the headquarters of the General Curia in Borgo Santo Spirito near St. Peter. The initial entry of the religious, who succeeds father Kolvenbach, is scheduled for tomorrow in Rome. Father Nicolas, 72 years next April, is called "Black Pope" for the color of cowl wearing because it is elected for life as the Pope and leading as Superior of the Jesuits, the largest and powerful religious order of the world. Our extensive experience in Asia, strong growth in land of evangelization, and the ability of government "are the qualities on which the Society of Jesus has pointed to the election of Nicolas driving 19,200 Jesuits of the world.
Experience in Asia. Father Nicolas has a pastoral training and all Asia, in particular played in Japan. Among the successors of 29 founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 1540 Spanish theologian is the second to reach the Land of the Rising Sun after the missionary Pedro Arrupe (one of the witnesses to the tragedy of Hiroshima). Born in 1936 in Palencia, Spain, he graduated at the Gregorian University, in 1971 he obtained a master's degree in sacred theology and was Professor of Systematic Theology at Sophia University in Tokyo.
From 1991 to 1993 was rector of Scholasticate in Tokyo, then until 1999 he assumed the role of provincial of the Jesuit Province of Japan. The new "Black Pope", from 2004 to 2007, was moderator of the Jesuit Conference Eastern Asia and Oceania. He enjoys wide esteem in the Vatican and the Order also for being Secretary General of the Congregation, which Kolvenbach father got the Jesuits to more moderate positions.
In recent days Benedict XVI has asked the Jesuits greater fidelity in "promoting the true and sound Catholic doctrine," that "the Church has even more need today, at a time when there is the urgent need to convey to contemporary, distracted by discordant voices, and the only unchanged message of salvation that is the Gospel. " Ratzinger has described as "very useful" a public reaffirmation of its total membership to Catholic doctrine "by the Society of Jesus," in particular focal points today strongly attacked by secular culture, as the relationship between Christ and religions, some aspects of the theology of liberation and different points of sexual morality, particularly with regard to the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons. "
The pontiff then acknowledged "the valuable contribution that the Company offers to the Church in different fields and in many ways", stressing the urgency that "the lives of members of the Society of Jesus, as well as their research doctrinal are always animated by a spirit of faith and communion in docile harmony with the directives of the Magisterium. "
( January 19, 2008 )
Photos from the 35th General Congregation
taken by Fr. Don Doll, S.J. - Creighton University