Province News

Jesuits Reflect on Election of Pope Francis

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Pope Francis blesses pilgrims at St. Peter's SquareThe election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, a Jesuit from Argentina, as His Holiness Pope Francis has prompted a lot of reaction and discussion, especially within Jesuit circles.  Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be elected Bishop of Rome.

Fr. Myles Sheehan, SJ, provincial of New England, made a statement yesterday expressing both joy and gratitude to God for the Holy Father’s election.  “Although we are, of course, excited about the Holy Father’s Jesuit roots, we are more excited about his ministry to the Universal Church and pray for courage and wisdom for him as he begins this journey of faith,” said Fr. Sheehan.  Read Fr. Sheehan’s full statement.   Fr. Sheehan was also interviewed by The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, along with Fr. Tom Smolich, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference USA.  Read the full article.

The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. General P. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, issued a statement giving thanks to God for the Holy Father’s election.  “All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time,” said Father General. “From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth.” Read the full statement of the Superior General.

Other Jesuits has expressed similar reactions.  President of Fairfield University, Fr. Jeffrey P. von Arx, SJ, was quoted in the Connecticut newspaper Litchfield County Times, “This is a time for great humility and gratitude for our society. With God’s guidance, may he lead the church to greater unity and faithfulness to her Lord and become an inspirational leader, not only for his flock, but indeed, for the world.”  Read the articles on the Litchfield County Times and the West Hartford News.

Fr. Richard Ryscavage, SJ, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, had colleagues from the seminary who knew the Holy Father while he was a Jesuit.  “Yes, I heard of him 25 years ago,” said Fr. Ryscavage of Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the man who is now Pope Francis. “His reputation was unusual. He was close to the poor and concerned with them. He was a simple man, and a prayerful man…”  Read more of his account from the Westport Minuteman.

Fr. James Martin, SJ, wrote an article for Slate on why Pope Francis may not have chosen a Jesuit name and also offering background on the Jesuit order, a humorous look at inter-religious-order “rivalry,” and the historic nature of the Holy Father’s election. Read Fr. Martin’s article on

President of Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, Fr. William Campbell, SJ, commented to Portland’s ABC affiliate WMTW, “I’m  consoled that we have a new pope as you can tell; I’m emotional that it is the first Jesuit pope.  I’m speechless; this will resonate certainly with us at the school.”  Read more and watch video of his interview.

Fr. Campbell was also quoted in an article by the Bangor Daily News saying that the election of Pope Francis “symbolizes the universal nature of the Catholic Church.”  Read the full article.

Matt Malone, SJ, editor-in-chief of America magazine, has been reporting from Rome on the entire conclave and election.  He posted daily reports and video on America magazine’s website and also has tweeted regularly at @AmericaEditor on Twitter.

Jesuits at Boston College were quoted in The Boston Globe over their reaction to a Jesuit being elected Pope.  Read the full story on The Boston Globe‘s website.

On behalf of the entire College of the Holy Cross community, president Fr. Philip Boroughs, SJ, extends prayers and best wishes to the Holy Father in his official statement.  Read Fr. Borough’s message to His Holiness Pope Francis and the Holy Cross community.

Executive Director of the Jesuit Collaborative, Fr. Jim Conroy, SJ, reflects on the surprise of a Jesuit being elected and its significance in “A God of Surprises” on the Jesuit Collaborative website.

WPRI television of Providence, Rhode Island reported on the reaction from the Jesuit world and also quoted the statement from the New England Province.  Read more on WPRI’s website.

National Jesuit News is also sharing a selection of reflections and responses of Jesuits from across the country.  See more from National Jesuit News.

The Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits, is a Catholic religious order of priests and brothers serving the Church in educational, pastoral and spiritual ministries. Jesuits of the New England Province serve as teachers, campus ministers  and administrators at universities, high schools, and Nativity middle schools. At our retreat centers and through spiritual direction, Jesuits share the gifts of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. We serve in parishes and as chaplains in hospitals and the military. In our apostolic outreach, we seek to do all things for the greater glory of God.

Photo Credit: The Catholic Church in England and Wales / Flickr


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