Jesuits (Societas Jesu, S.J.)
The Jesuit Order is a male monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church.
Founded in 1534 by Ignatius Loyola.
Authority and Purpose
A state of war exists between the papacy and the Religious Order of the Jesuits — the Society of Jesus, to give the Order its official name. That war signals the most lethal change to take place within the ranks of the professional Roman clergy over the last thousand years. And, as with all important events in the Roman Catholic Church, it involves the interests, the lives, and the destinies of ordinary men and women in the millions.
All wars are about power. In the war between the papacy and the Society [of Jesus], power flows along the lines of two fundamental and concrete issues. The first is authority: Who is in command of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church? Who lays down the law as to what Roman Catholics must believe and what sort of morals they must practice?
The second issue is purpose: What is the purpose of the Roman Catholic Church in this world?
For the papacy, the answers to both questions are clear and wellknown. Authority to command and to teach descends through its hierarchic structure from Pope to bishops to priests to laity. And the sole purpose of the Church in this world is to make sure that each individual has the means of reaching the eternal life of God after death. It is an exclusively otherworldly purpose.
For many Jesuits, on the other hand, the Church's centralized authority, the command structure through which it is exercised, and its purpose are all unacceptable today. The traditional prerogatives of this Pope, John Paul II, or of any Pope, are objectionable.
In place of a hierarchic Church, they are aiming at a church composed of small and autonomous communities of people — “the people of God”, as they are collectively known, or “the people's Church” — all loosely associated only by faith, but definitely not by one central and centralizing authority such as the papacy claims to be.
In place of the otherworldly purpose of the traditional Church, the Society of Jesus has substituted the here-and-now struggle for the liberation of one class of men and women in our society today: those millions who suffer from social, economic, and political injustice.
The new mission of the Society of Jesus
The new mission of the Society of Jesus suddenly places them in actual alliance with Marxists in their class struggle.
The way of speaking about that class struggle is an important and delicate matter for the Jesuits. The new mission of the Society — for it is nothing less than that — suddenly places them in actual and, in some instances, willing alliance with Marxists in their class struggle. The aim of both is to establish a sociopolitical system affecting the economies of nations by a thorough-going redistribution of earth's resources and goods; and, in the process, to alter the present governmental systems in vogue among nations.
It won't do, however, for the Society to come right out and say as much as a matter of corporate policy. That would be to lose the war before the troops are even thoroughly deployed. To cover the same reality, the expression current among Jesuits and others within the Church who are sympathetic to this new mission is a phrase torn from its original context in a document issued in 1968 by a Conference of Catholic Bishops held in Medellin, Colombia: “to exercise a preferential option for the poor and the oppressed.”
None of this is to say that the Society of Jesus at any point became officially Marxist. It did not. Nevertheless, the brute fact is that many Jesuits wish to see a radical change in the democratic capitalism of the West, in favor of a socialism that seems inevitably to come up smelling just like totalitarian Communism. And the fact is as well that there is no lack of individual and influential Jesuits who regularly speak up for the new crusade.
A brief cameo of three Jesuits — a sociopolitical scientist, a devoted guerrilla, and a formidable theologian-teacher — will quickly sketch the wide and all-encompassing arc of the modern Jesuit endeavor to win this war.
At this level, the new Jesuit concepts concerning authority in the Church, and the Church's purpose in the world, represent a turnabout of the profoundest nature. For the Society of Jesus, the ultimate authority for belief and morality is no longer in the Roman Catholic Church with its papacy and its worldwide hierarchy, but in the “people of God”. The results of that· exchange are that, to date, there is not one major dogma or one capital moral law of Roman Catholicism that has not been both challenged and denied by individual Jesuits, beginning with Jesuits of the highest rank and the most honored stature.