For the first time since St Robert Bellarmine a Jesuit has been coopted as secretary of a Roman Congregation. The Pope has named Father Luis Ladaria, a 64-year-old Spaniard, as secretary of the Congregation of the Faith. Though it is not normal for Jesuits to be ordained bishops, Luis becomes, as is customary in such posts, a titular archbishop. He joins an important body headed by the Californian who took over the job from Joseph Ratzinger. Although we feel the grievous loss to the Gregorian University, where Luis lectured on the Trinity and was seen as the outstanding theologian on the staff, the appointment is a sign of Pope Benedict’s confidence in him. Fr General, in communicating this news, nudged all Provinces to maintain their generous sharing of good theologians with the Gregorian University.
Another Spanish-born theologian, Jon Sobrino, is featured in the Tablet Interview for 5 July. He was the sole survivor of the 1989 massacre of his six comrades and two laywomen in San Salvador. Last year the C.D.F., the very congregation that Luis is joining, issued a “notification” that two of Sobrino’s books “may cause harm to the faithful”. The Tablet notes: “It seems that the faithful are prepared to risk it; in the past twelve months the sales of the disputed texts have boomed.” In the interview Jon tries repeatedly to move on from questions of menacing croziers and controversial books to the plight of the poor, and the selfishness of the rich world in face of that misery.
As in Jesus’ image of the church, the Society of Jesus is like a big tree where birds of all colours, including these two great Spaniards, can nest comfortably with one another.