Local Jesuits reflection election of first Jesuit Pontiff to lead church


After a special all-school Mass at St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy on Tuesday celebrating the beginning of Pope Francis' ministry, Father Joaquin O. Martinez, the school's president, shared with reporters his thoughts about a fellow Jesuit becoming pope.

Father Martinez was meeting with fellow Jesuit school presidents and principals in Chicago when he heard about the election of Cardinal Bergoglio.

“There were about 25 of us there. We were all — the word is 'stunned.' As I said to the boys [when he returned to St. John's], 'There was one Jesuit in the conclave.... [Jesuits] are not really supposed to be bishops. That really is the role of diocesan priests... So for a Jesuit to become a bishop, and then for a bishop to become an archbishop, to become a cardinal, to [be elected pope] is unusual on top of unusual on top of unusual.”

Father Martinez added that although Cardinal Bergoglio was the only Jesuit among the voting cardinals, “Half the cardinals in the conclave were Jesuit educated, 49.6 [percent], I saw the statistic.

“I don't know if [Pope Francis' being a Jesuit] does anything for [the Jesuit] community,” Father Martinez said. “One of the traditions is that the superior general goes to see the pope to offer the services of the Society of Jesus because we have a vow of obedience to the pope, so he went to do that.

"The pope greeted him and says, 'Look, I'm your brother.... They spoke in Spanish, so he told him to refer to him as 'tu' in the informal you instead of as 'your holiness' or 'holy father.' The tradition of the Society of Jesus has been to serve the church in whatever the pope asks us to do, so I expect that since this pope knows that, he'll be asking us to do things that he needs us to do.”

St. John's Jesuit has begun to search for a new president to succeed Father Martinez.

“I belong to the Jesuits on the west coast,” Father Martinez said. “I'm sort of on loan to the Jesuits here in the midwest. I was supposed to be here for three years, I'm in my fifth year, so my provincial has called me home.... There's a couple new things he wants me to do; I don't know yet what that is. I get some time off in the fall and then I get my new assignment.”