The Jesuits' Search For a New Identity

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change. The clenched dictum promulgated in Jesuit schools, Age quod agis (Do what you are doing) begins to seem like a narrow tunnel vision, tempting sidelong glances at the confusing larger world.

Departures. As with the church, the current Jesuit controversy has been simmering for years, but it came to a boil as the Second Vatican Council drew to a close. The society's superior general, John Baptist Janssens, died, and the order convened in 1965 one of its rare "general congregations," both to elect a successor and adjust its ways to the council's rapprochement with the modern world. Jesuit superiors and provincial representatives from around the world converged on Rome. The man they elected as the society's 28th general (to serve, like the Pope, for life) was a career missionary named Pedro Arrupe, the first Basque to head the order since Ignatius himself. Something of a mystic, also like Ignatius, Arrupe, now 65, presides over the troubled order today with disarming calm and good cheer.

He needs it. The Jesuits are already a smaller order than the one Arrupe took over in 1965. Though still the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, they have suffered the same kind of attrition that has affected other groups of priests and nuns. There were 36,000 Jesuit priests, brothers and scholastics in 1966, but by the end of 1972 there were fewer than 31,000. Some of the lost numbers are men abandoning the order−so many in recent years that the newspaper of the society's Oregon province has a feature headlined DEATHS−LEAVES−DEPARTURES. The emigrants are not merely from the ranks, either. U.S. Jesuits who have left have included such eminent names as Theologian Bernard Cooke, Maryland Provincial Edward Sponga and former Woodstock College Rector Felix Cardegna. In addition, the number of new recruits has plunged, especially in developed countries. The U.S.−the society's largest national community with 6,600 Jesuits−used to get some 350 novices each year; now it is down to fewer than 100.

"The Jesuits are in crisis because we are in a world of crisis," says Father John Blewett, who advises Arrupe on educational matters. Indian Jesuit Herbert de Souza observes that Jesuits react to the crisis in one of two ways: "Some of us become numbed while others overreact. There will be a split among thinking men, especially devoted thinking men, in a crisis situation. They will often clash head-on because of a common devotion." Arrupe presides over a sometimes chaotic variety of individuals, whose special Jesuit intensity, a quality of the breed, often gives them individualistic interpretations of the society's slogan, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (To the greater glory of God). Some examples:

≫ Father Robert Drinan, onetime dean of the law school at the Jesuits' Boston College, is now a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts' Third District with a 100% A.D.A. rating. He has irritated conservative Catholics with his stand on the Viet Nam War (vehemently opposed), tax credits for parochial schools (opposed), and abortion laws (opposed because he feels abortion is a moral, not a legal issue). Philadelphia's John Cardinal Krol has stated publicly that Drinan should resign from Congress.

≫ Another Jesuit, the Rev. John McLaughlin, joined the White House staff in

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