March 14th, 2013
09:07 AM ET

My Take: What it means for one of my brothers to become pope

Editor's Note: Father James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine and author of the The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

By Father James Martin, special to CNN

(CNN) - Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope in history.  When I heard his name announced, after shouting aloud, my first thought was how improbable it all was.  But why?  Why was a Jesuit pope so hard for people (including me) to imagine?  And what would St. Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Jesuit Order (more formally known as the Society of Jesus), have thought?

Let’s take that first question first.  Why was it so improbable?  For two reasons.

First, most cardinals come from the ranks of the diocesan clergy.  That is, most study in diocesan seminaries and are trained to work in the more familiar Catholic settings of parishes - celebrating Masses, baptizing children, presiding at marriages and working closely with families in their parish.  Their lives are perhaps more easily understood by the public at large.  They begin as parish priests, and later are appointed bishops and archbishops and, later, are named cardinals by the pope.

Members of religious orders, like the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits, live a different life.  We take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live in communities with one another.  (By contrast, parish priests receive salaries.)  We are also not as focused on parish life.  In this country, for example, the Jesuits are known mainly for their educational institutions: middle schools, high schools and colleges and universities like Boston College, Georgetown, Fordham and all the schools named “Loyola.”  So our lives are different from those of the diocesan clergy; not better or worse, just different.  So members of religious orders may seem more “unfamiliar” to cardinals. Thus, not many popes in recent history have been from religious orders.  When choosing a leader, then, the cardinals naturally prefer someone from their “world.”

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But not this time. Perhaps they felt it was time for a change.  A big one.

Also, the Jesuits were sometimes viewed with suspicion in a few quarters of the Vatican. There are a number of reasons for that, some of them complex.  The first is, as I mentioned, our “differentness.”  Second, our work with the poor and people on the margins sometimes struck some as too experimental, radical and even dangerous.  “When you work on the margins,” an old Jesuit said, “you sometimes step out of bounds.”

In the early 1980s, because of tensions between the Jesuits and the Vatican, Pope John Paul II “intervened” in our internal governance.  After a stroke felled our superior general, the pope appointed his own representative as our leader (rather than allowing the normal procedure, which was for us to elect a successor).  That was his right as pope, but it still discouraged many Jesuits.  A few years later, we elected a new superior general and the warm relations were restored.  Still, the cloud persisted in some quarters of the Vatican, which meant that a Jesuit pope was too far-fetched to even imagine.

With a Jesuit pope, that cloud has been if not removed then lifted much higher.

What does it mean to have a Jesuit pope?  Several things.

First, the new vicar of Christ is thoroughly steeped in the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1540.  Pope Francis has twice in his life, as all “fully formed” Jesuits do, participated in the Spiritual Exercises, the monthlong silent retreat that focuses on the life of Jesus Christ.  The Exercises call on you to use your imagination to enter into the life of Jesus in prayer.  So Pope Francis, we can assume, is an intensely spiritual man who has plumbed the depths of the life of Christ in a particularly Jesuit way.  Since his election Wednesday, I have heard at least a dozen Jesuits say, “Well, I don’t know much about him, but I know he made the Exercises.”

Second, Jesuit training is extremely long.  Pope Francis entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1958, at the age of 22, and was not ordained until in 1969.  (That’s about the average length of time of training for a Jesuit priest. I entered in 1988 and was ordained in 1999.)  So the new pope is an educated man who also has experience in a variety of ministries, which he would have been assigned to during his long training.  Typically, a Jesuit in training is asked to do work with the poor, tend to patients in hospitals, teach in schools, and all the while perform what St. Ignatius called “low and humble tasks,” for example, like scrubbing out toilets and mopping floors.

Third, the new supreme pontiff knows poverty.  Jesuits are supposed to take our vows of poverty seriously.  This means in the novitiate living on a pittance, working with the poor and having nothing to call your own.  The already-famous stories of Cardinal Bergoglio using public transportation and cooking for himself may find their foundations in St. Ignatius Loyola, who said we should love poverty “as a mother.”  We Jesuits are asked to follow “Christ poor” - that is, to emulate Christ in his poverty on earth - and live as simply as possible.  Some of us do that better than others, and once he was appointed bishop and archbishop, he was released from his vow of poverty, but it is an essential goal in the life of a Jesuit, and most likely deeply embedded in his spiritual life.

Pope Francis’ name has been remarked on, and I was overjoyed that he chose to honor  St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps the world’s most beloved saint.  It signals a great desire to help the poor.  But I couldn’t help wondering if as devoted as he was to Francis, his first experiences of ministering to the poor came when he was, as Jesuits say, a “Son of Ignatius.”

Fourth, Jesuits are asked to be, in St. Ignatius' Spanish tongue, disponible: available, open, free, ready to go anywhere.  The Jesuit ideal is to be free enough to go where God wants you to, from the favela in Latin America to the Papal Palace in Vatican City. We are also, likewise, to be “indifferent”; that is, free enough to flourish in either place;  to do anything at all that is ad majorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God.

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Fifth, we are not supposed to be “climbers.”  Now here’s a terrific irony.  When Jesuit priests and brothers complete their training, they make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and a special vow to the pope “with regard to missions”; that is, with regard to places the pope wishes to send us.  But we also make an unusual promise, alone among religious orders as far as I know, not to “strive or ambition” for high office.

St. Ignatius was appalled by the clerical climbing that he saw around him in the late Renaissance, so he required us to make that unique promise against “climbing.” Sometimes, the pope will ask a Jesuit, as he did with Jorge Bergoglio, to assume the role of bishop or archbishop.  But this is not the norm.  Now, however, a Jesuit who had once promised not to “strive or ambition” for high office holds the highest office in the church.

On that second question: What would St. Ignatius Loyola have thought?

St. Ignatius famously did not want his men to become bishops and even resisted the Vatican at times to prevent that from happening.  On the other hand, he was disponible enough to know that rigid rules needed to be broken.  Plus he was also devoted to doing anything he could for the church, and to ask his Jesuits to do the same.  In one of the founding documents of the Jesuits, Ignatius announces his intention to “serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.”

Anything for the “Greater Glory of God,” as our motto goes, and for the service of the church, Ignatius would say.  So, frankly, I think St. Ignatius would be smiling at one of his Sons not only serving the Roman Pontiff, but being one. 

I sure am.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Martin.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope

soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. SLU Grad

    Thank you, Fr. Martin, for explaining the vows Jesuits make, and the expectations for those living in the Order. My only real experience with Jesuits was as a college student, where the Jesuit administration lived a life very far from this ideal. I note that you say that some of you live the Jesuit life better than others. I hope and pray for good things with Pope Francis. Before reading your post, I was more skeptical.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  2. Andy

    Jesuits are heavy hitters in the intellect department; many have PhDs and other impressive credentials. I hope having a Pope who is a Jesuit can bring the religious order back to their glory years and not the baggage of the past 40 years.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Glory years of the Vatican = The Dark Ages

      ..... I hope the Vatican doesn't going back to their glory years or else I'm going to have to run and hide out of reach from the catholic church, probably to Argentina like the Nazis..... SH.IT, just kidding. Maybe Iran, that could be safer

      March 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • My Bro

      Ya he gave me his bus pass for the rest of the month.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      A PhD from a jesus school aint worth didly in the real world.

      March 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Hello Kitty

      Having a Ph.D. in theology is exactly like having a Ph.D. in SpongeBob studies: the letters sound impressive, but the reality is that you are an expert in the details of an imaginary being.

      March 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  3. catolicochapin

    Reblogged this on Un católico políticamente incorrecto... and commented:
    Una perspectiva jesuita acerca del Papa Francisco.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  4. SAAB

    okay so you're claiming yourself a Jesuit priest like Jorge the Pope too!! but let me make it clear my friend, if you live in America and claim you worked for poor, you are delusional, if I don't call you hypocrite father Martin. Now the funny part is, all of sudden all church people find things in common with Jorge the Pope. lol!

    March 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  5. Mary Seem

    Thanks for a a very thorough and lucid explanation. It is a real shame that comments on this post drifted to such rudeness.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Valerie

    My USMC son says the Jesuits are the Marine Corps of the Catholic Church. Prayers for
    you Pope Francis I; I think the Holy Spirit guided your brother Cardinals into discerning the right man for the job at this time in history. And thanks to you Fr. Martin; love your posts – always! 🙂

    March 14, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  7. Loyola Grad

    I graduated from Loyola Univ Chicago. It was my only experience with Jesuits, but they did a lot to earn my respect. I have a fundamental issue with many religious leaders, and it has actually drawn me far from churches of all kinds. Often times they use their religious stature for personal gain, living lavish lifestyles that are obviously contradictory to what they preach. Every Jesuit I have ever met (had many professors, a rugby coach and just around campus) lived up to their vows. They all lived communally, dined in dining halls, shared very modest cars and were incredibly focused on their education. I applaud the church for electing a pope that carries these ideals with him.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  8. SheilaKA

    Thank you, Father. Well stated. I am one who keeps trying to explain the difference between diocesan and religious priests, since there seems to be a general confusion "out there". I don't think THIS Pope will make a change, but I anticipate that one day there will be permission for diocesan priests to be married...like the other Catholic rites.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  9. Bill Deacon

    The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J., SJ or SI) is a Christian male religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits and are also known colloquially as "God's Marines",[2] these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and members' willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and live in extreme conditions. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. The society's founding principles are contained in the docuument Formula of the Instiitute, written by Ignatius of Loyola. Jesuits are known for their work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecuumenical dialogue.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist troll....with a new butt to kiss.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Anna Maria Von Ludwig's Descendant

      Bill Deacon,

      The Jesuits 30 Years' War (1618-1648).

      "In 1618, a fearful struggle began among the nations of Europe. Engineered by the Jesuits to destroy the Reformation in Germany, it caused the deaths of countless millions and Germany's population was reduced by over one half.

      The Jesuit engineered 30 Years' War was one of the most sav.age conflicts in the history of the world and no slaughter of such magnitude appeared until WWI.

      The U.S. Civil War was a bloody conflict, but that war lasted only 5 years, and the antagonists did take prisoners. Multiply that conflict by SIX and you get some idea of what the war was like." - –http://www.reformation.org/jesuits-in-germany.html

      The Jesuits wandered through the towns and villages, looking for "heretics" to execute, including my ancestors in the Rhineland Palatinate in the 1620s.

      March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Anna Maria etc

      The wars of the reformation, including the 30 years war, were caused by the same thing that always causes war – politics, in this case, in the name of religion.

      I searched this article:


      for references to "Jesuit". There is but one – that Archduke Ferdinand was educated by them.

      You're not a Seventh Day Adventist per chance? They seem to have a big issue with the Jesuits.

      March 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Anna Maria Von Ludwig's Descendant

      I'm not a GOPer,

      No, I'm not SDA - agnostic/atheist actually.

      The article I referenced is perhaps heavy-handed and biased, but here is another one with similar points (of course, they both may be slanted and written by the 'persecuted' Protestants):


      I just wanted to point out that their history is not all peaches 'n cream, from the writings regarding and the doc/umented trials & executions of my own ancestors.

      I'm sure that the Jesuits have contributed many positive things to society, but the rest of the story needs to be known too.

      March 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Anna Maria etc,

      the article you presented is most certainly a Protestant apologia. The article even starts with the words: "Germany is the home of the blessed Reformation"

      It is virulently anti-catholic. My advice is to be very careful with a source like that.

      Your second source quotes a letter written by the (Lutheran) elector of Saxony, to his representative at the diet in 1608. Note that this is 10 years before the 30 years war is said to start (in Bohemia) and that Saxony was a Hapsburg (Catholic) controlled duchy and still nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire.

      That the Peace of Augsburg fell apart was organic reaction to the all too human quest for power. At that time, religion was still the prefered tool of choice for weilding power. The collapse of the Peace of Augsburg was not masterminded by the Jesuits.

      The story of Spainish and Portugese Colonialism is interwoven with the story of the Jesuits.

      They weren't there in the very beginning, but many of the 'conversions' of the pre-Columbian peoples of what is now Latin America was at the hands of the Jesuits particularly in Brazil. In many cases their presence and interference with colonial officialdom prevented the enslavement of the peoples they had converted.

      Since the second half of the 16th century, they were in the vanguard of European colonialism. There was a lost colony of Jesuits on the Chesapeake long before the English. They were a presence in New France (Canada). Pere Marquette was a Jesuit. Their missions were also very influential in the European colonies in China.

      Certainly not all North American missions were run by Jesuits. The Californian missionaries under Junipero Serra were Franciscan.

      It's an organization comprised of humans. They did (and do) all the good and bad things that humans do.

      March 14, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Anna Maria Von Ludwig's Descendant

      I'm not a GOPer,

      Thanks so much for your research and for your comments. I appreciate the time you took to do all of that. Of course, above all, I want things to be as close to factual as is possible. Yes, my ancestors' executions *could* be due to a few radical Jesuits, perhaps we'll never know.

      March 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  10. ME II

    @James Martin,
    Very interesting, informative, and well written article.

    Thank you.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  11. deedee

    Beautifully expressed, father! I was also surprised and please to see a Jesuit elected to the papacy. Sorry so many think prayers are of no value.. I believe the Catholic Church is returning to its proper path.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  12. Jesuit Educated-Former Catholic

    I walked away from the church years ago for multiple reasons, but I have carried a highschool and college Jesuit education with me in my journey, which I value greatly. They taught me it was ok to challenge authority, the status quo, even my belief in God. At least in the US, by and large, these are good, intellectual, and compassionate men. I don't anticipate seeing women priests or other necessary changes, but I am optimistic for movement in the right direction. Cleaning up their own house would be an adequate accomplishment for this pope.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    Father James Martin. You are obviously a good and thoughtful man. I find it such a shame that you are devoting your life to an imaginary character in a bronze age, middle eastern story book. Such a shame.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Get Real

      Jesuits are the Devil's spawn.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Which God?

      @get real. Have you been consorting with the devil again? Only you would know something like this, as you would have first hand knowlege. Speaking of hand, does the devil help you to choose which hand you use? Fruitcake.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Dr. Robert Brant D.C

      You do not have to believe in God and you can think all religion is bogus but do not insult people who have a deep love and belief in Christ. When you do this you are no better then those that try to cram their religious beliefs down your throat. I myself struggle every day with my faith. Is God real is he not? I dont know and struggle every day with that but I will never criticize someone for their beliefs. All I know is that I will try to live a good and moral life and when I die I at least want to know I wasn't a waste of the air I breathed. Regardless of your views on religion we all could afford to be more Christ like.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Ryan

      Your entire civilization is built around this so I wouldn't throw so much disdain at it. Jesus Christ was a real historical figure. And either he was telling the truth, or was the biggest liar in history. His apostles were real people who gave their lives for him. They did not spread his teaching by force, they spread it with their own lives. Sorry, you believe that the majority of western civilization is built on a delusion or that somehow in the last 200 years people suddenly grew special reasoning skills never known to man before. You have chosen to believe it's not possible for God to exist a priori so any possible indication that he may, you simply reject as not possible even when there is no other scientific explanation for credible miraculous events (ones that cannot be mere coincidences) other than supernatural. So if there is a God you could never find his existence anyway, even if he speaks right from a cloud from heaven to tell you he exists. Then you will just say you cannot trust your own senses, even though human senses is what science is based on in the first place. Just because you cannot perceive something does not mean it does not exist. So, maybe that's why there are plenty of people from 400, 800, or 2,000 years ago who didn't have your "advanced" knowledge but were still more intelligent than you and believed. St. Thomas Aquinas would not be very impressed with your arguments.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Dr. Robert Brant D.C. I did not insult him at all. I just commented that it was a shame that Father Martin's good work is all so misguided. If he was devoting his work to Thor or Zeus, I am sure you would say the same thing.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      jesuits are some of the most respected members of the catholic faith.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Which God?

      @ Dr. If you make stupid, unfounded claims, then you are an imbecile. As for the Dr, in front of your name, I'd bet you are either very vain about it, or it came from a mail order degree mill. You have no room to talk.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • A Conversation

      @Ryan...that may be the most thoughtful, articulate post this blog has ever seen. Well done.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Which God?

      @ Ryan. Did the the gibberish you wrote make sense to you? There is no "historical" evidence of your jeebus. None. Don't give me the tired Josephus story,etc. They've been debunked. Reading Josephus is like reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and his Martian chronicles. Very childlike.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      "somehow in the last 200 years people suddenly grew special reasoning skills never known to man before."

      It's hard to quantify any improvement in reasoning skills but knowledge has increased incrementally and technology exponentially so that we are much better informed about hte universe than sheepherders from thousands of years ago. We understand rain, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. We understand so much more and don't need ancient superstitions anymore.

      March 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Harmonia

      It amazes me how religion pushes peoples' buttons.
      Why does it make so many people so enraged?
      Yes, awful things have been done by "religious" people, and in the name of religion,
      but a great deal of good, too. Sort of like the general conduct of the human race.
      I am not Catholic, nor particularly religious, but I have worked at a Jesuit school for 25 years.
      Jesuits are very interesting, both practical and high-minded, and many are extremely conscientious. I admire much of their endeavors, but I certainly don't idolize them, nor would most of them want that.

      I would like to point out to those here who think it is not possible for Jesuits (or anyone) to hold science and faith
      simultaneously, and who invoke "evidence" as the only arbiter of what is real, that human knowledge is always evolving.
      It must be a sad condition (it is certainly a deluded one) to believe that only what can be proven by evidence is real.
      A few hundred years ago, there was no evidence for atoms or molecules, and so it goes. If you believe in the reality
      of only what is shown by scientific evidence, then you are missing a great deal, You are also showing alack of historical understanding of how human scientific knowledge has developed. We all get angry form time to time, but I find those
      with no spiritual aspect to their natures are angry much of the time.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No intelligent person would think that the only real things are those which are proven with evidence. How stupid would that be? Obviously there's much we don't understand or experience, but they're just as real as the things we do understand and/or experience. But to expect people to believe something specific without any evidence is just as stupid. Might there be real unicorns on a planet in Orion? Sure. Is it smart to believe that wholeheartedly without evidence?

      March 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "St. Thomas Aquinas would not be very impressed with your arguments."


      March 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "A few hundred years ago, there was no evidence for atoms or molecules, and so it goes. If you believe in the reality
      of only what is shown by scientific evidence, then you are missing a great deal"

      Very ironic, considering most of what is claimed to be evidence of god usually takes the form of gaps in our knowledge of the universe.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      This is a question of epistemology. You theists are telling us that the scientific method cannot detect god. Great. How do YOU know god is real, and what defense can you offer for the means by which you acquired that knowledge?

      March 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    That's it people. Keep giving them your money. LOLOL What a scam!

    March 14, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Dyslexic Zomibe

      B-R-I-A-N-S !

      March 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 14, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Dyslexic doG


      March 14, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      March 14, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      March 14, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • truth be told

      History has shown that atheists have brutally tortured and murdered more innocent people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. Nothing like atheistic mass murder to promote a great life for an atheist, rough on everyone else though.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • .

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

      -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

      March 14, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Harmonia

      Jesus (the poster, not the Biblical figure):

      What prayer accomplishes is not something that can be proven.
      That is not what it is for. It is a psychological and spiritual process,
      and it is very personal.
      If one believes it has changes things for him/her, then it has.
      It is not a matter of deduction.
      So there is no point in screaming, "It does not.!"
      Because of course you cannot prove either that it does not change things
      for a pray-er.

      March 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  16. bobk52

    JAy, U should fire up a jay & open your mind.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Pipe Down

      Oh, be quiet.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Dyslexic Zomibe

      you mean jeffrey, lol what a newb

      March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  17. Irrational Exuberance

    This will be a break from my norm of denouncing theists.

    I like to give Jesuits credit; they are a sect of Catholics who have a love of learning. Their history is just as blood stained as the rest, but they have, in many ways, been the more enlightened of the bunch.

    It is reflecting on that that I think maybe this pope will open the church records, renounce the policies of excommunication for those who warn society about child predators, even if they find out in a confessional. I understand not breaking the seal for those crimes that are unlikely to be repeated (murder), or those where the type of victimhood is less damaging (theft), but keeping the secrets of those who exploit children make you an accomplice . But as the author notes:
    "On the other hand, he was disponible enough to know that rigid rules needed to be broken." Maybe this Jesuit Pope will put that into practice for the “Greater Glory of God."

    I suspect that not protecting child predators is the least they can do for the greater glory of god.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Jesus

      How enlightened can you really be when you still believe any of the following?
      1. The creation myth
      2. The Adam and Eve myth
      3. Immaculate conception
      4. Talking animals
      5. The flood myth
      6. Moses parting the red sea
      7. The resurrection myth
      8. Etc, etc, etc

      March 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Irrational Exuberance

      Please ensure you are not mistaking YEC, which is of fairly recent Protestant vintage, with the position of the RCC which publicly announced decades (in some cases more than a century ago) that many of the stories in are allegorical.

      Do they believe in some patently absurd things, yes. But as I wrote they are "the more enlightened of the bunch"; a term of comparison, not an absolute measure.

      If you condemn entirely and utterly without ensuring recognition ise given for praise worthy material then you are as bad as their mythical sky-daddy which has a very warped sense of "justice" in condemning to death otherwise good people for gathering firewood on the wrong day of the week. If we wish them to change we must chastise and rebuke, but only when appropriate, if all you ever do is smack the puppy it will never learn anything beyond fear, mistrust, and will perhaps bite back in self-defense.

      March 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Jesus

    I find it amusing that people think that things will be any different under this pope, or any pope for that matter. Nothing will change, no single person can change an organization the size of the RCC. This is nothing more than a distraction.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  19. Ken

    "What it means" is that there's one more guy they can prop up in a dress and funny hat to draw news for a while and draw attention away from RC problems such as that church's now well docu-mented hiding of child molesters and the decline in young folk amongst the RC sheep set. All that, plus they want to hide fact that all the premises of their religion around the divinity of Christ and the supposed benevolent nature of their rather horrid BOMITS and so on have zero support in evidence, and their bizarro ceremonies and smokescreens don't fool people quite as well as they did in pre-internet times.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  20. JAy.

    Thanks for the article, Fr. James. Beautifully written. My prayers go out to Pope Francis, his fellow Jesuits, and all Catholics, that his ascendency to the Papal office may shine a greater light on Christ as well as the mission for love of neighbor and care of the poor.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • bobk52

      JAy, U should fire up a jay & open your mind.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Yo

      JAy= JackAs.s, yo.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:52 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.