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By Diogenes (articles ) | May 02, 2008

The current NCR features a review of a new book on the history of the American Jesuits:

Fr. Schroth, a Jesuit himself and a familiar NCR contributor, proceeds chronologically with 15 chapters spread across four sections. Founded in 1534, recognized by papal bull in 1540, the Society sent missionaries from Rome to North America and around the world. The Society's European origins provide spiritual and historical foundations for its American expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries. The final chapter includes a sobering assessment of the Jesuits' graying (median age 67.6 years) and dwindling membership. Fr. Schroth suggests the U.S. order might have only 1,100 members by 2050, down from 8,338 in 1960. Before that, though, comes a rollicking good story.

So what made it rollick? More to the point, perhaps, what made it stop?

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  • Posted by: - May. 05, 2008 3:15 PM ET USA

    The Jesuits will survive if they follow form.They were approved as an order by a Pope. They were suppressed by a Pope.They were reinstated by a Pope.Theybecame vigorous as defenders of the the Faith and the Pope.Their problems currently stem from a departure from that loyalty to the Pope.Their leaders might delude themselves by thinking they follow Rome,but second guessing the Pope and using sophistry to disguise the disobedience will not work.A return to unquestioning doctrine will work.

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 11:13 PM ET USA

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that the Jesuit order thinks as one. Jesuits of all stripes exist and, as the largest men's order, they stand a better chance than most of making it through a vocation crisis that is present in the whole Church. The problems in the world can be found in the Church. The problems in the Church can be found in the Jesuit order. The problems in the Jesuit order can be found in just about every Jesuit community.

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 10:39 PM ET USA

    The just elected head honcho of the Jesuits said the the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius needed to be stripped of its Christocentric nature so that it could apply to pagans around the world. Adios, Society of Jesus.

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 5:20 PM ET USA

    It may be that the Lord is about to raise up a second Ignatius who will either reform the Society of Jesus or found a new order to replace them. Remember Christ's words in the Gospel " I tell you that out of these very stones God can raise up children for Abraham." How much more easily might He raise up a replacement for the Jesuits. It would appear that the general rule of a religious society is "Be Orthodox and flourish; be faithless and perish." Every order makes its choice.

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 5:10 PM ET USA

    Whatever Schroth's story may be, it is not to be trusted; he is a constant thorn in the side of the Church and always has an axe to grind.

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 3:10 PM ET USA

    This is a sad story in the history of the Church. The defenders of the faith became social workers and an obstruction to the Pope and the Church. Now we see the demise of a once great order and still they hold the same course. I had eight years of Jesuit education in the 50's and they were great defenders of the faith and taught it truthfully. May God bless them and bring them back to the Pope's service!

  • Posted by: - May. 02, 2008 11:26 AM ET USA

    Only the Holy Father can make the changes to the Society needed in order to change direction. It has to start with the leadership. I pray that happens. But so far as I can see no sea change on the horizon apparent.