a jesuit thaw?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 10, 2008

As the Society of Jesus begins its General Congregation in Rome, there are signs of a new openness to criticism of Jesuit policy on the part of Jesuits themselves. National Catholic Reporter columnist John Dear admits he has "mixed feelings about the Jesuits," the order to which he belongs, which are provoked by what he terms "our history of violence." Dear finds this culture of violence deplorably abetted by contemporary Jesuit endeavors:

The leading Jesuit publication, America, features regular ads paid for by the Pentagon to recruit priests to join the military in support of their killing campaigns.

Too harsh, I think. The true nature of those chaplain ads is almost certainly not evident in their black and white proofs. But Father Dear has even more astringent remarks about Jesuit educational institutions:

On top of this, most of our [Jesuit] universities and high schools train young people how to murder other people in an evil program called Reserve Officer Training Corp, or ROTC. This work goes against everything Jesus gave his life for, everything we stand for.

How very interesting. Rumors, I regret to say, have floated around the blogs from time to time insinuating that the Society of Jesus is resistant to criticism "from within" and particularly hostile to reproaches publicly expressed by her members. Dear's column proves such rumors are a reckless exaggeration, if not outright calumny. A religious congregation that awards its priests such liberty in public reprobation ("most of our schools train young people how to murder other people ...") can hardly be accused of intolerance.

Well can it?

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2008 3:13 PM ET USA

    I had ROTC at a Jesuit high school. It was mandatory! The Jesuits were then called(in some circles) the Pope'a SS troops. How times change!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 14, 2008 1:39 PM ET USA

    It seems as though Father Dear's grasp of Scripture is deficient… As Bishop Sheen noted in his address to West Point graduates: of all professions exposed in the Gospels, military officers – i.e., Roman Centurions - are arguably the most exalted.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2008 7:31 PM ET USA

    My husband is currently the XO of a Navy ROTC unit in the midwest who happens to be serving in Iraq right now. We take our Catholic faith seriously. We and our 6 children are proud to make this small sacrifice for the Iraqi prople. I guess my last comment was too strong because it was not posted. May I offer my great thanks to the articulate and TRUE rebukes here to the idea that ROTC is somehow so far on the wrong side of the moral divide to be refused at a Catholic College? THANK YOU!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2008 10:18 AM ET USA

    From the Catechism: 2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. To me, there is no braver soul than a chaplain on the battlefield. Ranger Toups

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2008 8:26 AM ET USA

    biscjim - "ROTC programs are inappropriate on Catholic campuses"? Ever thought about the fact that if not for the military for which those ROTC programs train young men and women we would all be speaking German and worshipping statues of Hitler? There would be no Catholics - we would have been gassed with the Jews and homosexuals. As a career Marine and Catholic (along with 38% of the Marine Corps), I find your comment deeply offensive, at the very least. But I'll just leave it at that.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 10:53 PM ET USA

    I'd like to meet the person who first gave Fr. Dear a public platform and . . . give them a piece of my mind. In the meantime -- didn't Fr. John learn *anything* about the "militant" "Ignatian" character of the Society in all those years of training??? Mmmm, probably not.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 6:07 PM ET USA

    He may be liberal, but concerning ROTC programs, he is right on. I have never been accused of being a liberal, but have always thought that ROTC programs are inappropriate on Catholic campuses.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 2:48 PM ET USA

    Fr. Dear's lack of understanding can be attributed to his parents, who decided to have a sense of humor when they picked his first name. The teasing never stopped, and, well, now we have Fr. Dear.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 11:56 AM ET USA

    So criticism from within is okay as long as it's in line with the dumbest......I mean, most liberal interpretation of the Gospel I've ever heard. God in His Heaven must wince when that sort of pap is printed. Thank God for the few Jesuits who model themselves after their founder.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 11:26 AM ET USA

    Fool. Doesn't this man realize that the military NEEDS Catholic chaplains in order to ensure the administration of those most important sacraments, i.e., reconciliation and the Eucharist, to its Catholic men and women? I converted to Catholicism as a result of my participation in the Iraq War, and it scares me to death to reflect now that had I died from my wounds received there, I might have been damned due to my inability to receive reconciliation from the lack of Catholic chaplains?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 8:42 AM ET USA

    I'd never heard of Fr. Dear until now. His website shows a "speaking schedule" that is a veritable litany of dissenting organizations: Call to Action, Pax Christi, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (oops, how'd that get in there?), etc.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 6:31 AM ET USA