Cardinal Sean Brady and Cardinal Desmond Connell are among the many people giving a warm welcome to Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, the new Father General of the world-wide Jesuit Order. Fr Nicolás was elected this morning, Saturday 19 January 2008 by two-hundred and seventeen electors who came from all over the world for the thirty-fifth General Congregation of the order.
Aged seventy one and born in Spain, Fr Nicolás spent a large part of his life in Japan in the Jesuit Japanese Mission. Irish Jesuits who worked with him there speak of him with fondness and admiration. According to Fr Gerry Bourke SJ the new Fr General is “a man of real wisdom and many winning qualities, especially good humour.”
Fr Nicolás is currently Moderator of Jesuit Provincials in East Asia and Australia. In a recent interview he spoke of his hopes for the General Congregation, which continues in Rome as Jesuits decide the way forward .“ One of my hopes is that we begin a process of dynamic and open reflection on our religious life that might begin a process of re-creation of the Society for our times, not only in the quality of our services but also and most importantly in the quality of our personal and community witness to the Church and the world.” Fr Nicolás added: “The age in which we and our younger Jesuits will live is an age of very rapid change. New technologies and new communication possibilities can make a great difference”.
The post of Father General in the Jesuits is a prestigious one and the holder is sometimes jokingly referred to as ‘the black pope’. Though the position is normally for life, the two most recent incumbents have resigned. Last Monday, 14 January, Fr Hans Kolvenbach formally submitted his resignation, with the approval of the Pope, after almost 25 years in office. And in 1983 Fr Pedro Arrupe stood down because of ill health. Fr Arrupe, the centenary of whose birth was celebrated last year, also spent time in Japan. Fr. Nicolás has spoken of his admiration for Arrupe, a charismatic man who was a champion of the poor and saw faith as intimately linked to justice.
Fr Nicolás has a Doctorate in Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and speaks Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish and English.
Saturday, 19 January 2008