In April 2005 a group of Jesuits were celebrating mass at St. Beuno’s, an Ignatian spirituality center in Wales, literally while crowds at the Vatican were waiting to see who would be the new pope, up on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. Of course, near the end of the Liturgy of the Word, the celebrant priest at St. Beuno’s would have to pray for the pope. But on this day, the celebrant didn’t know which pope he was going to pray for. So he had an assistant wait outside the chapel, watching the Vatican coverage live on TV. The assistant was planning to alert the priest, during the mass, of the new pope’s name, as soon as he appeared on the balcony. So, indeed, at some point early in the liturgy, the assistant tiptoed into the chapel with a little folded note bearing the name of the new pope.
The celebrant stopped and opened the note. Then his face went pale, and he closed it. When he finally got to the intercessory prayers, he grumbled, “…and for our Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict the, uh, [looking down at the note] 16th, Lord help us.”
Like the new pope, Francis I, many Jesuits are “conservative”, as some Americans understand the term, on social and gender issues like contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of women. But many Jesuits are liberal. Some are very liberal. One was sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in for saying mass with a Roman Catholic Womanpriest.
Many Jesuits backed liberation theology, which led Pope John Paul II in 1982 to appoint a staunch conservative in charge of the order. All of this raises the question: what do Jesuits actually think about the new pope? Not what do they say — because publicly, few of them say anything but praise — but what is being whispered, at St. Beuno’s, behind monastery walls, in university corridors — anywhere the Jesuits have confidentiality?
Well, why not ask one? Certainly, some Jesuit could give us a general idea. So, I called some media offices to try to get an interview with a Jesuit who would speak candidly about what his colleagues really think about Pope Francis. No takers. Why not? Well, a friend of mine had a theory: “if they do they lose their pension, housing, insurance… everything they vowed away at age 16 or so….” That may or may not be true. It could also be the case that no Jesuit is critical of the new pope.
Link (here) to Association of Catholic Priests