VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI asked the Jesuits to continue to be pioneers in dialogue, theological research and work for justice, but insisted that they also must make clear their faith and their acceptance of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“The Church needs you, counts on you and continues to turn to you with trust,” the Pope told more than 200 Jesuits chosen to represent the almost 20,000 members of the Society of Jesus for the order’s General Congregation.
Led by Spanish Fr Adolfo Nicolas, elected superior general of the order on January 19, the congregation delegates met on February 21 with the Pope.
Fr Nicolas told the Pope, “In communion with the Church and guided by the magisterium, we are seeking to dedicate ourselves deeply to service, discernment and research.”
The members of the General Congregation are aware of their responsibility to the Church as a whole, he said, but they also are aware of the need for humility, “recognising that the mystery of God and of the human person is much greater than our ability to understand”.
The new superior told the Pope that “it saddens us” when people try to present the Jesuits as a group of rebel theologians opposed to traditional Church teaching or to the hierarchy.
The Jesuits, he said, love and serve the Church, including the hierarchy and the Pope himself.
Reminding the Jesuits of the letter he sent them before they elected Fr Nicolas, Pope Benedict said the Jesuits must continue their theological work on themes related to sexuality and to other religions, but they must do so in a way that helps people understand Church teaching on the topics.
“The themes of the salvation of all people in Christ, of sexual morality, of marriage and the family – continually discussed and questioned today – must be deepened and enlightened in the context of contemporary reality, but maintaining the harmony with the magisterium that will avoid provoking confusion and concern among the people of God,” the pope told them.