A Jesuit reflects on the Jesuit pope’s interview by Jesuits

As a Jesuit, I was overwhelmed by the interview of Pope Francis by my Jesuit brother, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal based in Rome.

Congratulations to Antonio, my former colleagues at America, and the 14 other Jesuit publications for this extraordinary exclusive.

That all of these Jesuits could keep such a coup secret until publication almost makes me believe in Jesuit conspiracy theories.

In the interview, Pope Francis speaks from his heart as one Jesuit to another. While reading the interview, I felt like I was in a Jesuit living room having a conversation with a brother.

The interview demands careful reading and reflection, but let me share with you my first reactions.

In the interview, Pope Francis explains why he was labeled a conservative by many Jesuits in Latin America. He confesses it was his own fault.

In my experience as superior in the Society, to be honest … I did not always do the necessary consultation. And this was not a good thing. My style of government as a Jesuit at the beginning had many faults. That was a difficult time for the Society: an entire generation of Jesuits had disappeared. Because of this I found myself provincial when I was still very young. I was only 36 years old. That was crazy. I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made my decisions abruptly and by myself.

My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative. I lived a time of great interior crisis when I was in Cordova. To be sure, I have never been like Blessed Imelda [a goody-goody], but I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems. Continue reading


Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR.

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News category: Analysis and Comment.

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