|Superior General of the Society of Jesus |
|Formation||19 April 1541|
|First holder||Ignatius of Loyola|
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|Society of Jesus|
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus – the Roman Catholic religious order which is also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position sometimes carries the nickname of the Black Pope, because of his responsibility for the largest Catholic, male religious order and is contrasted to the white garb of the pope. The thirty-first and current Superior General is the Reverend Father Arturo Sosa, elected by the 36th General Congregation on 14 October 2016.
The formal title in Latin is Praepositus Generalis, which may fairly be rendered as "superior general" or even, "president general". The term is like that of military usage (and Ignatius of Loyola had a military background) which is derived from "general", as opposed to "particular". This usage is consistent with other Catholic religious orders, like the Dominicans' "master general", Franciscans' "minister general", Carthusians' "prior general", and with civil posts such as Postmaster General and Attorney General. The Jesuits are organized into provinces, each with a provincial superior, (usually referred to as the "Father Provincial" or just "Provincial"), with the head of the order being the "general superior", for the whole organization. As a major superior, the Superior General is styled "Very Reverend".
"Black Pope" is an unofficial designation given by conspiracy theorists to the position of Superior General of the Order of the Jesuits.The name follows from his leadership of the largest Catholic, male religious order and from the colour of the plain black cassock worn by members of the Society, including the Superior General. This may have originated from a past concern (most prominent around the 16th and 17th centuries) among Protestant European countries concerning the relative power of the Jesuits within the Roman Catholic Church, and partly because the Superior General, like the Pope, is elected for life.
The Superior General is invested with governing power over all the members of the Society, but customarily leads through Provincial superiors under him. Such power follows from the religious vows that bind members to community life, as in other religious orders.
Superiors General are elected by the General Congregation of the Society, summoned upon the resignation or death of an incumbent. Superiors General are elected for life and up to recently, as with the Popes, have served life terms. The exceptions being Father Pedro Arrupe (resigned for reasons of failing health) and both his successors, Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach and Father Adolfo Nicolás. On 2 October 2016, General Congregation 36 convened in Rome, convoked by Superior General Nicolás, and it elected Father Arturo Sosa as the thirty-first Superior General.
Until the 21st century, it was customary for Superior Generals to rule for life. Where they left office before death, the date of death is listed below the date they left office. (Pedro Arrupe resigned in 1983 after a paralyzing stroke.)
|No.||Superior General||Portrait||Took office||Left office|
|Birthplace||Duration (in days)|
|1||Ignatius of Loyola||April 19, 1541||July 31, 1556||Azpeitia, Spain||5,582|
|2||Diego Laynez||July 2, 1558||January 19, 1565||Almazán, Spain||2,393|
|3||Francis Borgia||July 2, 1565||October 1, 1572||Gandia, Spain||2,648|
|4||Everard Mercurian||April 23, 1573||August 1, 1580||La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium||2,657|
|5||Claudio Acquaviva||February 19, 1581||January 31, 1615||Atri, Italy||12,399|
|6||Mutio Vitelleschi||November 15, 1615||February 9, 1645||Rome, Italy||10,679|
|7||Vincenzo Carafa||January 7, 1646||June 8, 1649||Naples, Italy||1,248|
|8||Francesco Piccolomini||December 21, 1649||June 17, 1651||Siena, Italy||543|
|9||Aloysius Gottifredi||January 21, 1652||March 12, 1652||Rome, Italy||51|
|10||Goschwin Nickel||March 17, 1652||July 31, 1664||Jülich, Germany||4,519|
|11||Giovanni Paolo Oliva||July 31, 1664||November 26, 1681||Genoa, Italy||6,327|
|12||Charles de Noyelle||July 5, 1682||December 12, 1686||Brussels, Belgium||1,621|
|13||Thyrsus González de Santalla||July 6, 1687||October 27, 1705||Arganza, Spain||6,688|
|14||Michelangelo Tamburini||January 31, 1706||February 28, 1730||Modena, Italy||8,521|
|15||Franz Retz||March 7, 1730||November 19, 1750||Prague, Bohemia||7,562|
|16||Ignacio Visconti||July 4, 1751||May 4, 1755||Milan, Italy||1,389|
|17||Aloysius Centurione||November 30, 1755||October 2, 1757||Genoa, Italy||672|
|18||Lorenzo Ricci||May 21, 1758||August 16, 1773|
November 24, 1775
July 21, 1773
( suppressed )
|—||Stanislaus Czerniewicz||October 17, 1782||October 21, 1785||Kaunas, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth||1,100|
|—||Gabriel Lenkiewicz||October 8, 1785||October 21, 1798||Polotsk, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth||4,761|
|—||Franciszek Kareu||February 12, 1799||August 11, 1802||Orsha, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth||1,275|
|—||Gabriel Gruber||October 22, 1802||April 6, 1805||Vienna, Austria||897|
|19||Tadeusz Brzozowski||August 7, 1814||February 5, 1820||Königsberg, Prussia||2,008|
|20||Luigi Fortis||October 18, 1820||January 27, 1829||Verona, Italy||3,023|
|21||Jan Roothaan||July 9, 1829||May 8, 1853||Amsterdam, Netherlands||8,704|
|22||Peter Jan Beckx||August 2, 1853||March 4, 1887||Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, Belgium||12,267|
|23||Anton Anderledy||March 4, 1887||January 18, 1892||Berisal, Switzerland||1,781|
|24||Luis Martín||October 2, 1892||April 18, 1906||Melgar de Fernamental, Spain||4,945|
|25||Franz Xavier Wernz||September 8, 1906||August 20, 1914||Rottweil, Germany||2,903|
|26||Wlodimir Ledóchowski||February 11, 1915||December 13, 1942||Loosdorf, Austria||10,167|
|27||Jean-Baptiste Janssens||September 15, 1946||October 5, 1964||Mechelen, Belgium||6,595|
|28||Pedro Arrupe||May 22, 1965||September 3, 1983|
February 5, 1991
|29||Peter Hans Kolvenbach||September 13, 1983||January 14, 2008|
November 26, 2016
|30||Adolfo Nicolás||January 19, 2008||October 3, 2016|
May 20, 2020
|Villamuriel de Cerrato, Spain||3,169|
|31||Arturo Sosa||October 14, 2016||Incumbent||Caracas, Venezuela||1595|
In 1773, the Jesuits were suppressed by Pope Clement XIV, through the Papal brief Dominus ac Redemptor on July 21, 1773, executed August 16. The leaders of the order, in the nations where the Papal suppression order was not enforced, were known as temporary Vicars General.
The temporary Vicars General were:
On March 7, 1801, Pope Pius VII issued the brief Catholicae fidei, giving approval to the existence of the Society in Russia and allowing the Society there to elect a Superior General for Russia. This was the first step to the Society's eventual restoration.
The Superiors General in Russia were:
The order was restored on August 7, 1814, by Pope Pius VII, through the papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum.
The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and six companions with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future. Founded in November 1980 as a work of the Society of Jesus, JRS was officially registered on 19 March 2000 in Vatican City as a foundation. The impetus to found JRS came from the then superior general of the Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe, who was inspired to action by the plight of Vietnamese boat people. JRS has programmes in over 50 countries. The areas of work are in the field of education, emergency assistance, health care, livelihoods, reconciliation, and psychosocial support. JRS is also involved in advocacy and human rights work. This involves ensuring that refugees are afforded their full rights as guaranteed by the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and working to strengthen the protection afforded to Internally displaced persons (IDPs). JRS's international headquarters is located in Rome at the Society's General Curia. The International Director is Rev. Thomas H. Smolich SJ.
A provincial superior is a major superior of a religious institute acting under the institute's Superior General and exercising a general supervision over all the members of that institute in a territorial division of the order called a province, which is similar to but not to be confused with an ecclesiastical province made up of particular churches or dioceses under the supervision of a Metropolitan Bishop. The division of a religious institute into provinces is generally along geographical lines and may consist of one or more countries, or of only a part of a country There may be, however, one or more houses of one province situated within the physical territory of another since the jurisdiction over the individual religious is personal, rather than territorial. The title of the office is often abbreviated to Provincial.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe,S.J. was a Spanish Basque Jesuit priest who served as the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. He has been called a second founder of the Society as he led the Jesuits in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, especially with regard to faith that does justice and preferential option for the poor.
Very Rev. Luis Martín García, S.J. was a Spanish Jesuit, elected the twenty-fourth Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
Peter Hans Kolvenbach, was the twenty-ninth Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest male Catholic religious order.
The General Congregation is an assembly of the Jesuit representatives from all parts of the world, and serves as the highest authority in the Society of Jesus. A General Congregation (GC) is always summoned on the death or resignation of the administrative head of the order, called the Superior General or Father General, to choose his successor, and it may be called at other times if circumstances warrant. A smaller congregation of worldwide representatives meets every three years to discuss internal business and to decide the need for a general congregation.
Very Rev. Luigi Fortis, S.J. was an Italian Jesuit elected the twentieth Superior-General of the Society of Jesus.
Very Rev. Tadeusz Brzozowski, S.J. was a Polish scholar, teacher, administrator and a Jesuit priest. Having secured its continuity during the suppression of the Society until its restoration, he was elected twentieth Superior General of the Society of Jesus and was its first world-wide general.
Gabriel Gruber, S.J. was the second Superior General of the Society of Jesus in Russia.
Very Rev. Franciszek Kareu, S.J. was a Polish-British Jesuit priest, missionary and teacher in the lands of today's Belarus. He was elected Temporary Vicar General of the Society of Jesus in Russia from 1799 to 1801.
Gabriel Lenkiewicz, actually Gabriel Lenkiewicz-Ipohorski, Kotwicz coat of arms, was a Polish-Lithuanian Jesuit priest, and Temporary Vicar General of the Society of Jesus from 1785 until 1798, at a time when under Papal suppression in all Catholic countries, the Society continued in Russia.
Stanislaw Czerniewicz was a Lithuanian-Polish Jesuit priest. He was Rector of the Jesuit College in Polotsk when the Society of Jesus was suppressed in 1773; in 1782, he was elected vicar general for the Jesuits in Russia in 1782 and de facto Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
Peter Jan Beckx born in Zichem (Belgium) and died in Rome, was a Belgian Jesuit priest, elected the twenty-second Superior-General of the Society of Jesus in 1853.
Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum was a papal bull issued in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, reestablishing the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after its suppression by the 1773 bull issued by Clement XIV, Dominus ac Redemptor. Nevertheless, the order continued to exist in some places. Pius VII had earlier, with the brief Catholicae Fidei, approved the existence of the Society of Jesus in Russia. The Vicar General, Franciszek Kareu, was declared "Superior General of the Jesuits in Russia."
Adolfo Nicolás Pachón was a Spanish priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the thirtieth Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 2008 to 2016. Before being elected Superior General, he worked primarily in Japan; he taught at Sophia University in Tokyo for twenty years and then headed educational institutions in Manila from 1978 to 1984 and in Tokyo from 1991 to 1993. He led the Jesuits in Japan from 1993 to 1996 and, after four years of pastoral work in Tokyo, led the Jesuits in Asia from 2004 to 2008.
Father Andreas Hönisch SJM was the founder and Superior General of Servi Jesu et Mariae, and co-founder of the Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas.
Paolo Dezza, S.J. was a Roman Catholic Jesuit cardinal who led the Pontifical Gregorian University during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, whom he aided in the preparation of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. He was confessor to Pope Paul VI and Paul's successor, Pope John Paul I, and was a teacher of Pope John Paul I's successor, Pope John Paul II.
Jean-Yves Calvez was a French Jesuit, theologian, philosopher, economist, expert in Marxism and professor of social philosophy.
Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal is a Venezuelan priest who is the thirty-first and present Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was elected Superior General by the Society's 36th General Congregation on 14 October 2016, succeeding Adolfo Nicolás. He is the first person born in Latin America to lead the Jesuits.