Monday, January 14, 2008

Ladies and Jesuits, the General Has Left the Borgo

"And thus, the 24 year, four-month ministry of focused and single-minded care for and stewardship of the universal Society of Jesus by Father Kolvenbach has come to an end."

With those words, the Jesuit Curia announced earlier today that Father-General had officially resigned.

After Peter-Hans Kolvenbach presented his unprecedented resignation to the General Congregation and its 225 delegates voted to accept it, the diplomatic Dutchman returned to thank the body "for the elegant way you have found to fire me."

Dear Fathers and Brothers,

Today the General Congregation has thought it well to accept my resignation as General Superior of the Society of Jesus. At the end of these nearly 25 years of service, I want first of all to thank the Lord, who - to use the words of Saint Ignatius - has truly been propitious to me at Rome, in leading a Society He has called into service for his greater glory.

I am also most grateful for the privilege of having met and accompanied so many friends in the Lord, who in their many diverse vocations have always shown themselves to be true servants of the Mission of Christ.

No single Jesuit should feel himself excluded from this profound sentiment of recognition. Nonetheless I would like to thank in a particular way those in the General Curia who have helped me day after day over many years in carrying out my responsibilities for the Society, as well as all the Major Superiors spread throughout the entire world.

Earlier I was able to express my great thanks to the Holy Father for his apostolic orientations which have allowed the Society to continue our mission "under the banner of the cross and under the Vicar of Christ on earth".

Let us be grateful to the Lord that despite a disconcerting diversity of persons and cultures, of desires and works, our union of minds and hearts has never failed, and, despite an increasing fragility, the Society retains the capacity of apostolic dialogue before the challenges of the modern world in proclaiming the one Good News.

On this eve of the election of my successor and of the many decisions that the General Congregation will have to make, I unite myself with the prayer with which Saint Ignatius finished his letters: "May God our Lord in his infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us his abundant grace, so that we may know his most holy will and entirely fulfill it."
Addressing the General-emeritus on behalf of the Society, Kolvenbach's top aide for Latin America Fr Valentin Menendez thanked him for showing "an example... very different from what commonly is found in a world characterized by the clinging to, and fighting for, positions of power and prestige.

"Our charism and legislation are not good merely because they propose beautiful ideals," Menendez said, "but precisely because there are people who know how to embody and live them." In his remarks, the curial counselor made sure to remind the brethren of "the difficult 1981 Pontifical intervention," while noting that Cardinal Franc Rode's blunt opening message last week constituted "the thinking of the church."

Tomorrow morning, the delegates will move to the traditional four days of murmuratio in preparation for Saturday's election of the new "Black Pope."

Repeat: The Election is Saturday.... Stay tuned.

PHOTO: Don Doll, SJ