At other major church gatherings in Rome, the scene would have been bright with signs of clerical identity—the scarlet of cardinals, the purple of bishops, the variously shaded sashes of the seminarians. But the 180 priest-delegates who assembled in Rome last week, though members of an order that is organized like an army, wore plain black cassocks without sign of rank. The austere tradition recalls St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), who when he first took up a life of poverty insisted on wearing a woolen tunic, which earned him and his earliest followers in Spain the jeering nickname ensayalados, the men in wool. In the Jesuit headquarters in Borgo Santo Spirito near St. Peter's Square, the modern men in wool met in Extraordinary General Congregation, the sixth since Loyola's death, to settle pressing business facing the Society of Jesus, largest and most powerful order in the Roman Catholic Church. In the chapel, the delegates sang the Gregorian chant Veni Creator Spiritus (some priestly voices were off key; the Jesuits have never been famed for their singing), then briskly moved to a large, barnlike room and took their seats on plain wooden benches facing writing desks. From a raised table they were greeted—in Latin, the order's normal business language —by alabaster-pale, 67-year-old Jean-Baptiste Janssens, 27th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, also known (like his predecessors) as "the Black Pope." Father Janssens, whose authority is as nearly absolute as any military commander's, called the Congregation for one major reason: to reorganize the command structure of his vast religious army (50 provinces, 33 vice-provinces, 5,000 communities all over the world), and to delegate part of his own power.
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