Recently I have been reading a lot of works by and about the Jesuits. Presently I am reading selections from the Jesuit Relations, a compilation of letters and essays written by French missionary Jesuits in New France during the mid-seventeenth century. I greatly respect these Jesuits for their erudition, for their bravery and for their deep religious convictions. I am also beginning to read a biography of Edmunc Campion, a Jesuit who was martyred in Elizabethan England. He too is a cool Jesuit.
However, in reading about the Jesuits of our times, I am quite dismayed by the caricature I receive of them. A few weeks back I came across a book called Passionate Uncertainty, which contains numerous interviews of Jesuits and ex-Jesuits, many of which interviews expose problems of homosexuality, heterodox beliefs and gluttonous living (granted, many of these are from last century). At the same time, I have discovered that many Jesuits of the 20th century go their separate ways with the Vatican. Karl Rahner, S.J., for one, utilizes Hegelian thought in his theology, which alone is not heterodox; but his ideas have led some to embrace such radical liberation theology (no surprise, since Marx also based his theories on the Dialectic model used by Hegel). I have also discovered that Benedict XVI, when simply Cardinal Ratzinger, cited the Jesuit publication *America *as containing heterodox views. So, it seems that many Jesuits out there aren’t as orthodox as the Jesuits normally have been.
However, I have come across a few good Jesuits, such as Fr. Pacwa on EWTN; which finding leads me to believe that not all Jesuits are heterodox (of course).
With all this in mind, could some people please help me answer my questions about the present state of the Jesuits:
- Is the incidence of heterodox Jesuits any greater than the non-academic orders?
It seems to me that, as the Jesuits are an academic order, they are more frequently exposed to anti-Catholicism and modernist philosophies, which are both prevalent in the university environment where numerous Jesuits are to be found. So, my thinking is that many Jesuits at the university level might be somewhat influenced into thinking in non-Catholic ways.
- Does anyone know of any very orthodox Jesuits at the university level?
I am attending a Franciscan university next year, but, if I find that the Franciscans and me don’t well get along together, I am thinking of applying to a Jesuit university, such as the University of Scranton. However, I would only do this if I knew that the Jesuit instructors there were fairly orthodox. Actually, on second thought, I don’t mind a Jesuit who has differing theological views, so long as they are within the range of traditional Catholic/Christian understanding. I wouldn’t want a Jesuit who supports abortion, fornication, etc.; but a Jesuit who takes into consideration the views of Eastern Christianity, Coptic-Oritental Christianity, Assyrian Christianity Medieval Christianity, Tridentine Christianity, etc.–that would be very cool indeed.
Do you personally know of any really intelligent, scholarly and, for the most part, orthodox Jesuits? Where does one usually find these Jesuits?
Is the problem with heterodox Jesuits an individual problem? A provincial problem? A problem limited primarly to universites? Are the Jesuits who teach at the high school level more orthodox in their beliefs than those found at the university level?
In conclusion, I know that there is not one answer to these questions. However, I have only seen a Jesuit in person once, and that was when I was around 8 (I’m now 22). I have a Bolivian friend who had Jesuit teachers in Bolivia, and he said that they were very intelligent, humble and hard-working; but besides him, really don’t have an extensive personal knowledge.
Don’t think that I desire only to hear of negative cases of Jesuits. I would be delighted to hear stories of positive encounters with Jesuit priests. In fact, that’s probably my primary hope in starting this thread