Viewpoint: What It Means to Have a Jesuit Pope

From one of my favorite contemporary Roman Catholic voices, Rev. James Martin, S.J.

Ideas

When I entered the Jesuit order 25 years ago, several friends — including the Catholic ones — scratched their heads. “You’re entering the what?” was the most common response.

When I slowly repeated the name of the Catholic religious order that I had decided to join, only a few registered a flicker of recognition. Tell your average Joe (or Joan) that you’re a Jesuit, that is a member of the group formally known as the Society of Jesus, and they’ll often ask “But aren’t you a Catholic?” Among Catholics, Jesuits may be best known for founding universities like Georgetown, Boston College and Fordham, and all those schools named Loyola. (We tend to have great basketball teams as well.)

Despite our high-profile schools, the general confusion about Jesuits persists. My all-time favorite reply came from a reporter who once asked, “Were your parents Jesuits?” Um, no.

(MORE: Pope of…

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