Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Teilhard de Chardin (and other Orthodox Jesuits)

If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Some Wear Clerics, you may have noticed that there is a particular list entitled "The List that Dear Not Speak its Name." This is only its current incarnation. In the past it has also gone by "Jesuit Honor Roll," "Old Fashioned St. Ignatius Jesuits" and according to its underground title, "The Black List." There are many things that disturb us about such a list, namely its extremely ambiguous criteria.

We have known quite a few Jesuits who belong on this list, and there are some Jesuits who are on this list that don't belong - that is, if we actually understand what Karen is trying to do. Whatever the case may be, if she simply called it, "Jesuits I Like," that would be fine. But because she seeks to label these Jesuits as if they were ones that St. Ignatius would like (and so ones that Arrupe and other liberals would dislike by implication), we would like to show that for the most part the Society of Jesus disagrees with any such naming. It transcends the artificial boundaries set up by Karen and such useless and subjectively artificial boundaries are neither helpful to the charity that Ignatius made paramount to his way of life, nor to the readers of her blog, nor finally and especially to many of the Jesuits on this list who I know would be appalled there to find their names inscribed.

Why don't we go through some of these Jesuits and see how marginalized or "Old Fashioned" or "unspeakable" they really are:

Fr. C.A. Leininger: Former high school principal; Socius under two provincials (Socius is Jesuit-speak for chief of staff)

Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald: Current Socius of the New Orleans Province

Fr. Richard Hermes: Future President of Jesuit High School, Tampa

Fr. Norris Clarke: Retired professor of Philosophy at Fordham University; affinity for Buddhist spirituality; not particularly fond of the leadership style of John Paul II, who he considered too heavy-handed; considered to be a mainstream Jesuit

Fr. Raymond Gawronwski: Raised a hippie; experienced a conversion, became a Jesuit, and continues to practice daily zen meditation (very Arrupean)

Fr. Joseph Koterski: Former chair of the Philosophy department at Fordham University

Fr. Thomas King: Proponent and expert on the scientific and theological views of Teilhard de Chardin (well known for his orthodoxy). Needless to say, many on the "list" would not share Father King's positive views toward "Christogenesis."

Fr. Mitch Pacwa: Influential host and producer at EWTN; considered to be a mainstream Jesuit who is not ostracized from his superiors or fellow Jesuits

Avery Cardinal Dulles: Definitely a name that dare not be spoken!

Fr. John Kavanaugh: Monthly contributor to America magazine; outspoken critic of both Iraq wars, lassaiz faire capitalism, and George Weigel and company; outspoken critic of both political parties and the current American political scene; see Following Christ in a Consumer Society and Who Count as Persons for the juicy details.

Fr. Robert Spitzer: President of Gonzaga University; controversially flew to New York to see the performance of the Vagina Monologues and deemed that it did not contain anything contrary to Catholic doctrine.

Let us preemptively respond to some possible criticisms: 1) the main goal of this post is to point out the flaw in Karen's argument that "Old Fashioned St. Ignatius" Jesuits are somehow exiled from power in the Society, 2) the secondary goal is to point out that Karen is sometimes actually wrong (gasp!) and that some of the "Old Fashioned" Jesuits she lists are actually "Pedro Arrupe" Jesuits, 3) yes, many of the men listed (including Frs. Oakes, Baker and Schall to name a few) would not be considered mainstream Jesuits as compared to their Jesuit peers, but these men continue to publish their orthodox views freely without interference from supposed "liberal" superiors.

Markel, SJ & Mason Slidell

15 comments:

Henry Karlson said...

I always find it fascinating how few people realize how controversial Jesuit history has always been. It's so easy to sanitize the past to suggest present controversy is new.

I mean, there has to be a reason why the Jesuits produced a de Nobili and a Ricci.

Longin, SJ said...

I also detest that list.

There is, however, one point that you make, Merkel, over at Karen's blog that is off target. I don't want to engage it, there, though, because her site is kind of creepy.

"those who were victimized were victimized not because of what they thought, but because the state of their heart and their inability to express themselves without obvious judgment and superiority."

Not universally true. To be sure, some suffered on account of obvious character flaws and deficient charity. But not all. There are others who, living with all charity, have suffered at the hands of those who used their position to enforce an ideological hegemony--whether they were superiors or "merely" informatio writers.

Whether a man suffers as a result of his piety or opinions in the Society is as much the result of the character of his superiors as his own character. Your own ability to relate so well with your superiors is the result of grace and the particular men involved (and surely the former was given in relation to the latter). There are certainly many superiors in the Society (and perhaps more and more these days) who are fair, open to the Holy Spirit, and not given to punish men for their piety or opinions. And then there are those who are not: who for whatever reason go after men who deviate from their own view of how a Jesuit should think and act, which is drawn as a man of the world more than a man of God and the Church.

You've got more than your share of fair men down there in the "ideal" Jesuit province. Others don't. For my part, I feel that I've been blessed with good and fair superiors, even though they rarely agreed with me on some farily important things. I do, however, admire my brothers who have had to suffer through no (or at least little) fault of their own, and that includes many on Karen's list--and your debunked list.

And such suffering does bring merit. I've often recalled the words from the General Examen, to be asked of candidates to the Society: "Is he determined and ready to accept and suffer with patience, through the help of God's grace, any such injuries, mockeries, and affronts entailed by the wearing of this uniform of Christ or Lord, and any other affronts offered him, whether by someone inside the house or the Society (where he desires to obey, be humiliated, and gain eternal life) or outside it by any persons whatsoever on earth, while returning them not evil for evil but good for evil?"

One other point: transparency with one's superiors is absolutely essential and always a source of grace. A Jesuit should never deceive or conceal anything from his superiors. Transparency in the positive sense requires some decisions about what topics to broach (unless you're the kind to sign up for two slots in a row when the provincial visits), and prudence is a virtue in such choosing. For example, one should probably talk about his own prayer life and apostolic work before stating his unsolicited support for the Vatican's Instruction on Homosexuals in Seminaries or criticizing the local Eucharistic bread recipe. Such prudence is even more necessary outside of the manifestation of conscience, and demanded by charity. You don't have to say everything you think.

The best advice I've received in the Society was as a novice from one of the Jesuits on your debunked list. I went and looked up the original and discovered I still remember it almost verbatim. It's still what I counsel:

"As for anything due to the peculiar crisis of the times, my best advice to you is to keep your head down and remind yourself that you're not the one responsible for this or that aberration. If, as will occasionally happen over the years, you're called on to speak your mind or voice an opinion contrary to the preponderant majority, do so humbly and according to the supreme law of charity."

Johannes de Silentio said...

Kudos for picking apart the Black List... there are at least a couple of other Jesuits whose names really don't belong there, but I think you made the point very well.

Company Guy said...

Also, Jim Schall is very popular with his Jesuit peers. The guy has a million friends among us "normals" in the Society. Same with Brian Daley out at Notre Dame. Good guys, solid Jesuits. If either of them were aware of that sleaze conducted supposedly on their behalf at that website, I think they'd be horrified.

Karen said...

Actually, "Jesuits I like" is a very good idea. Wish I'd thought of that a long time ago.

Karen said...

I should have also added that I'll respond to all of this, calmly and in earnest, as soon as I can. It's very late right now.

I'm aware that the people on it aren't black and white. I've actually written about that several times.

More later.

shera10 said...

"I'm aware that the people on it aren't black and white."

sadly, YOUR perspective about SJ's is only black and white, Karen.
And your lack of charity in your judgements is often -always-disheartening.

Kat said...

Don't you love the fact that Karen has her own blog and it is her blog full of her own opinions? I mean it is such a novel concept, after all the whole goal of the Society is to produce androgynous robots spouting whatever the nearest Jesuit thinks.

/snark

Don't know about y'all but my years at Loyola New Orleans taught me how to think not WHAT to think. You don't like Karen's List, big flipping whoop. You don't think that the Jesuits on her list are all contra Arrupe. . . ok, your point? There are worse out there then some on Karen's list that you think are bad or Arrupe like.

You don't like it, come up with your own list, be proactive and do something, don't just sit back bitch about it... yet another thing I learned from Loyola New Orleans Jesuits (who like the rest of the society run the spectrum).

Markel & Mason said...

Kat, I'll forgive you for missing the point. Lists themselves are unhelpful. Making another one is exactly what not to do. They are not in the Society's way of proceeding

Longin, sj,
Thanks for your comments. I do of course understand that there are those who have been victimized by their superiors for particular beliefs. However, I want to reiterate that beliefs and ways of presenting beliefs and ways of living in community often go so hand in hand that they are practically inseparable. This is not the place for naming names, but I think many of those I am thinking of, and maybe you are also, should not have been singled out for their beliefs, but also did possess character traits that aided in them being singled out. At least, that is true of most Jesuits I've known. Again, that doesn't justify their being singled out (in the actual cases where this happened for real and not in their own heads, which I want to maintain does happen). My other point is that I think that this is a passing phenomenon. I admit that it happened in the past, particularly in the 70's and 80's. That was a sad time for the Society. But things are changing, atmospheres are changing. What I am trying to advocate is that Jesuits begin to recognize that fact and allow past ways of operating that were admittedly regretful and hurtful to be past, and to realize that many superiors now are far less concerned with matters of doctrine than they are with practice and presence and charity. This is not the only ideal of course, but it has opened up a new space for young "orthodox" guys and they only compound the problem by seeing battles where there are none. So that is my main point. Times have changed. There are new battles to be fought, and these will be fought alongside one another ad extra, not ad intra. That ad intra work of healing and transforming still needs to be done. But as always, that is primarily a work of grace that God calls one to, not oneself. If we get a John of the Cross for the Jesuits, it will be because God called him, not because he appointed himself.

Markel, SJ

Karen said...

My other point is that I think that this is a passing phenomenon.

I agree 100%.

And yet I have a Jesuit friend -- I SWEAR YOU DON'T KNOW HIM AND HE'S NOT ON THE LIST -- who has to be talked off a ledge once a week because he is the only orthodox guy in his community and is therefore treated like a pariah.

I have sense enough to know who brings on their own grief. I've been in show biz forever, I have seen a lot of that. But this is someone who is quiet, kind, doesn't get into anybody's face about anything, doesn't write or do anything to poke a snake with a stick. He just makes the occasional "I like the Pope" comment. As a result, he gets the deep freeze from everyone else and he says he has zero feeling of living in a community.

I know another guy who has the exact same story, except he gave up and left the Society.

The "things are changing" argument does not calm me down because I believe that a vow is a real and very serious thing, and that there will be consequences for breaking one, even if you do it because the other guys were making your life miserable. So I believe that this stuff that is going on, which you think is not widespread and will eventually fade, is endangering the souls of people I love.

As well as people I'll never know.

How many souls would it take before there were enough souls at stake for this situation to merit drastic attention?

Or do you believe that blowing off a vow is not a big deal, if you just don't fit in with the current prevailing attitude?

Maybe that will provide a little insight into why I contine to rant, or at least into why I think it's so important.

And please don't start with "Karen Hall has declared that someone is going to Hell!" Because that is not what I said, at all.

Markel & Mason said...

"The 'things are changing' argument does not calm me down because I believe that a vow is a real and very serious thing, and that there will be consequences for breaking one, even if you do it because the other guys were making your life miserable."

So do I, but what vow are we talking about here? Do you mean leaving the Society after having taken first vows? That would be one discussion. Or do you mean that people who don't confront these issues in their communities are breaking vows of obedience to the Pope? Please enlighten so we can talk about this.

"How many souls would it take before there were enough souls at stake for this situation to merit drastic attention? Or do you believe that blowing off a vow is not a big deal, if you just don't fit in with the current prevailing attitude?"

Again, which vow are we talking about? I need that clarification.

I don't think there need be more souls at stake for this to merit more drastic attention. I think you misunderstand me. I think the situation merits drastic attention. I have mentioned before, that I think I does. I also don't think this Father General will give it that. And I disagree with others on method. I didn't think your list as titled was helpful. I don't mind thinking in blacks and whites when the issue happens to be one of those. I think that "issues" often are black and white, but rarely people. That is why I don't like your list.

I do think the situation requires drastic measures. However, theological and ideological mavericks were not Ignatius' solution. The solution is of course complicated, and there will never be in a given time clear-sighted apprehension of the required methods until some methods just begin working. I am suggesting that previously used methods have not worked. I would term this method the pendulum reaction to that of "liberal" catholicism in the 60's and 70's. A parallel "conservative" reaction is not what is needed.

Let's start with saturation in prayer. No novice master, no matter how bad, can resist good affective and effective prayer.

Markel, SJ

Kat said...

"Kat, I'll forgive you for missing the point. Lists themselves are unhelpful. Making another one is exactly what not to do. They are not in the Society's way of proceeding"

I will forgive you for missing mine, rather then complaining about someone's practices on their blog aka bitching about it why don't you do something productive and positive... THAT was my point, forgive my previous snarky self, but it hardly seems productive to tear someone down over something as trite as what they choose to place on their blog, it is not as if Karen is advocating genocide, she is a lover of the Society and has a "favorites" list. . . is it really worth your time to lament over it?

Markel & Mason said...

Yes Kat, it is worth my time, because it was not a "favorites" list, though now it is. It was making a statement about the Society of Jesus. A favorites list is fine, we have said that. But when a statement is made on a widely read blog, I think commenting on it is actually "doing something."

Markel, SJ

Kat said...

I have read Karen's blog for sometime, I have never thought of her "list" as anything more then a favorites list and not a treatise on the Society, for that we can stick to Karen's posts. I must say though, I don't agree with her 100% on everything she says. If you find it so offensive, not that I have read all the commentary on her blog so maybe you have, why not say so on her blog? From my perspective, the how and what of what has been said here boarders on personal detraction, not that any blogger isn't guilty of that from time to time, myself included.

Kat said...

In addition, if you have gone to her and said "I think (whatever it is called this week) list is wrong and here is why." and she told you to take a flying leap and you still thought there was an issue about her bloody list it could be said in a manner not so snappish: "We have known quite a few Jesuits who belong on this list, and there are some Jesuits who are on this list that don't belong - that is, if we actually understand what Karen is trying to do. Whatever the case may be, if she simply called it, "Jesuits I Like," that would be fine. But because she seeks to label these Jesuits as if they were ones that St. Ignatius would like (and so ones that Arrupe and other liberals would dislike by implication), we would like to show that for the most part the Society of Jesus disagrees with any such naming. It transcends the artificial boundaries set up by Karen and such useless and subjectively artificial boundaries are neither helpful to the charity that Ignatius made paramount to his way of life, nor to the readers of her blog, nor finally and especially to many of the Jesuits on this list who I know would be appalled there to find their names inscribed."

Neither you nor Karen know what kind of Jesuit Ignatius would like, and safely to say, probably neither of you knew Arrupe other then in the capacity as F.G. and through the lens and filter of other people so who the heck knows, it isn't like the Jesuits always got it right even in the beginning. . . Ignatius got his hind parts hauled before the inquisition. I am pretty sure the good Fathers of the Inquisition put a filter on Ignatius that made him seem like some liberal freak that was just a hair from being unstable.