Jesuits in the Hierarchy

Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, pictured travelling by subway in Buenos Aires.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. But he is not the first Jesuit cardinal, archbishop or bishop. How many Jesuit cardinals, archbishops and bishops have there been in Jesuit history, and how many are there now? Today we learned that Michael Charles Barber, S.J., was appointed bishop of Oakland, California. Will there be more?

In addition to Pope Francis (created a cardinal in 2001), there are currently five cardinals, 18 archbishops and 51 bishops. The living cardinals are:


1. Jan Chryzostom Cardinal Korec, Bishop Emeritus of Nitra, elevated in 1991.

2. Julius Riyadi Cardinal Darmaatmadja, Archbishop Emeritus of Jakarta, elevated in 1994.

3. Roberto Cardinal Tucci, created in 2001

4. Albert Cardinal Vanhoye, created in 2006

5. Karl Josef Cardinal Becker, created in 2012

Only one Jesuit cardinal participated in the recent conclave, namely Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The other Jesuit Cardinal entitled to participate, Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, former Archbishop of Jakarta (Indonesia), was unable to attend due to ill health.  

Not counting those living today, in Jesuit history there have been 36 cardinals, 63 archbishops and 195 bishops. The numbers are not entirely neat and clean, since there are a few (four?) who left the Society and then were created cardinals or bishops, and a few (five?) were created cardinals or bishops and then joined the Society.

The first Jesuit to be made a cardinal was Francisco Toledo, in 1593. Among the most famous would be St. Robert Bellarmine, created in 1599. He was the second Jesuit to be made a cardinal.     

Jesuits Cardinals since Vatican II; Year of Creation; Date of Death

Augustin Cardinal Bea; 1959; November 16, 1968

Jean Cardinal Danielou; 1969; May 20, 1974

Henri Cardinal deLubac; 1983; September 4, 1991

Carlo Maria Martini (Milan); 1983; August 31, 2012

Paolo Dezzal; 1991; December 17, 1999

Alois Grillmeier; 1994; September 13, 1998

Avery Cardinal Dulles; 2001; December 12,  2008

Augusto Alzamora (Lima); 1994; September 4, 2000                       

Adam Kozlowiecki (Lusaka, Zambia); 1998; September 28, 2007                   

Urbano Navarrete (Rome); 2007; November 22, 2010

Tomas Spidlik (Rome); 2003; April 16, 2010

Paul Shan Kuo-hsi (Taiwan); 1998; August 22, 2012

Victor Razafimahatratra Antananarivo; 1976; October 6, 1993.

Lawrence Trevor Picachy Calcutta; 1976; November 30, 1992.

Pablo Munoz Vega (Quito); 1969; June 3, 1994

Jesuit Bishops

The first Jesuits to be made bishops were in the time of Ignatius in 1554; they were Nunes Barreto, Andres de Oviedo and Melchor Carneiro. They were chosen “for an ill-fated mission to Ethiopia” in cooperation with King John III of Portugal. Only Oviedo reached Ethiopia. The mission was a total failure.

Since the beginning of the Society, there have been about 367 Jesuit bishops (including living and dead). Jesuit cardinals are for the most part already included in this number.

Two questions might be asked about Jesuits in the hierarchy:  

1. Under this Jesuit pope, will more Jesuits be appointed bishops or cardinals?

2.  What is the relation of a Jesuit , bishop or cardinal and now pope to the General of the Society of Jesus?

In regard to the first question, we recall that Jesuit priests at the time of their solemn and final profession in the Society of Jesus promise:

I also promise that I will never strive for or ambition any prelacy or dignity outside the Society; and I will to the best of my ability never consent to my election unless I am forced to do so by obedience to him who can order me under penalty of sin. And moreover, if I shall find out that anyone [another Jesuit] is seeking to secure anything of the two aforementioned things or is ambitioning them, I promise that I will communicate his name and the entire matter to the Society or its Superior.

This is based upon the Jesuit Constitutions S.J., (Part X, N°6 [817]), and the experience of St. Ignatius as found in several strong letters in which he fought against Jesuits being made bishops.  

But now that we have a Jesuit pope, the question is: knowing our tradition, and knowing how St. Ignatius fought strongly against Jesuits becoming bishops, will the pope appoint Jesuits to be bishops?   

The second question: how does a Jesuit  who is made a bishop or cardinal regard the General of the Jesuits? To cover this possibility, the Jesuit promises:

In addition, I promise that if despite the third vow, I should happen to be ordained a bishop, I shall not refuse to listen to the General of the Society, if he, personally or through someone else of the Society, will do me the favor of giving me some counsel.

This, of course, does not deal with the possibility of a Jesuit becoming the pope! And what is his relation to the General of the Society? But as we have already soon, soon after being named pope, Pope Francis contacted and had a very cordial meeting with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the General of the Society.

Peter Schineller, S.J., is the archivist for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Joseph Phelan
7 years 3 months ago
Pete, Thanks for keeping us informed.. These questions have popped up on several occasions since Pope Francis election. Joe Regis


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