.- While reports on the May 6 resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, as editor of America magazine focused on the heavy-handedness of Pope Benedict XVI, a prominent Catholic analyst believes the more interesting story is why the Jesuits’ superior general allowed the longtime editor to resign at this time, when he had consistently ignored complaints under Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican’s last request for Fr. Reese’s resignation came in March, reported the National Catholic Reporter.
“The real news from this chain of events is the fact that the superior general of the Jesuits has decided to stop ‘fighting’ the imposition of Vatican authority,” said Deal Hudson, former editor and publisher of Crisis magazine.
“Fr. Reese appears, to me at least, as a victim of Jesuit culture finally being brought to task,” he wrote in an article published in the June 3 issue of The Window.
Hudson argued that his view seemed corroborated by the resignation 10 days earlier of a lay outreach coordinator of the Jesuit Conference, Erik Meder, who had published an article on homosexual clergy in the National Jesuit News.
“In allowing Fr. Reese to resign Fr. [Peter-Hans] Kolvenbach created the perfect opportunity for the media, both Catholic and secular, to generate negative buzz over the selection of Benedict XVI,” Hudson wrote.
“The Reese resignation confirmed [the left’s] worst fears and gave them an early opportunity to make a public case against the former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,” he continued
However, this outcry in the press will “not deter Vatican determination to bring doctrinal fidelity to Catholic institutions that shape the future of the Church,” Hudson said.
He believes the “real staging area” for the new Pope’s initiatives will be in the 46 US seminaries, not in “a handful of magazines.”
Hudson reported that a team of 75 bishops and 100 priests, coordinated by Archbishop O'Brien, are to begin inspecting seminaries in the near future. Archbishop O’Brien is the current military vicar and former rector of the North American College in Rome.
He also cites Fr. Giles Dimock, OP, who believes that Fr. Reese’s resignation sends an additional message to Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries that if you have a Catholic identity, you need to hold what the Church teaches. Fr. Dimock is a professor of liturgy and sacramental theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.