Adolfo Nicolas, the superior general of the Society of Jesus, recently visited the Jesuits’ California Province, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. He spoke to a wide variety of groups--9 days, 11 cities and 30 different sites--and had an extensive press conference for representatives of the Catholic media, in the Jesuit community at the University of San Francisco, on Feb. 4. The California Province has posted this link here. And a video of his conference here.
"Q. How is the relationship between the Society and the Vatican different under Pope Benedict than under his predecessor?
A. I would answer almost in the same way: It is as different as the persons involved are different. The personality of Benedict XVI brings in new accents and a new style. John Paul II was a man who liked to be with other people. He almost never had a meal alone. Benedict XVI likes to eat alone because he is a thinker, and these are the times when he can think. I just hope he enjoys his food.
Their personalities are very different as are the experiences they have had. One comes from Poland, the other from Germany, and the histories they came through are different. I’m different from Kolvenbach just as he differed from his predecessor. Things keep changing.
At this moment, my relationship with Benedict XVI is quite open; it is a relationship of trust but not of political change. Many people think that is there a shift in power from Opus Dei to the Society of Jesus. I don’t think so. This pope is very discerning, and he moves on personal choice, with all the risk but also with all the limitations that this brings. This isn’t a choice for the Society of Jesus; instead, it is a choice for Father Federico Lombardi [the Vatican’s press director], whom he trusts, and for Father Luis Ladaria [the secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith], whom he trusts. Therefore, we continue to have an open dialogue and to be in a relationship that is the best. We should neither be too close nor too distant. We belong to the Church. We are a part of it."
James Martin, SJ