Fellow Jesuit provides profile of new superior general

Father Juan Masia, S.J.
Father Juan Masia, S.J.


In an article written for the Spanish daily “La Verdad” in the city of Murcia, Fr. Juan Masia, SJ, who worked in Japan with the newly elected Jesuit superior general, offered a personal profile of Fr. Adolfo Nicolas.

Masia points out in his article that the election of Father Nicolas as superior general of the Jesuits “was foreseen years ago and it is no surprise to many Jesuits.”

“With the news of the election I received flood of emails asking for information about him.  I have been silent for an entire day; I did not want to endanger him with enthusiastic praise that would stir up the anger of those who sit waiting with a shotgun to fire against hope from the tower of fanatics.  But tonight, I have made a decision,” Father Masia said.

Writing from Japan, he stressed that the “news of the election of Father Nicolas, who for years was seen as a future superior general, has given great joy to the Society and was no surprise to those who awaited it and desired it for a long time.  When Father Arrupe wanted to retire for reasons of age, before he became ill, there was already talk of Father Nicolas as a possible successor: open, but balanced; prophetic, but obedient; bold, but discerning.”

“But, as John Paul II continued to live on, many people thought: ‘Father Nicolas’ time has passed’,” he added.

“He speaks Catalan, English, French, Italian, Japanese and German,” said Father Masia, “in these times of turning back the clock in the Vatican, the election of somebody like him to lead the Society is reason for much gratitude.”  “Those who know him closely know the trials he has endured with peace, elegance and faith.  He knows Asia very well and Asia knows him,” Father Masia added.

“Father Nicolas has been the provincial superior of the Jesuits in Japan.  He has emphasized enculturation, the option for the poor, inter-religious dialogue, the protection of life and the environment, the inseparability of faith and the promotion of justice…and he is welcoming to very diverse people.”

Father Masia also revealed that the new superior general “was not rector of the Gregorian, even though Father Kolvenbach wanted him to take the post, because the idea was vetoed by cardinals of a conservative bent.”

“His election undoubtedly was a step which the electors thought and prayed to God about, and they were careful not to campaign for him beforehand,” Father Masia noted.  “It is said that he who enters a the conclave Pope comes out a cardinal, as has occurred with some of the candidates promoted on the internet by people outside the Society, but interested in seeing it reverse course.”

Father Masia also said in his article that “since the Holy See still wants the superior to be elected for life, the Society has elected a 71 year-old, who will not be in office for more than approximately 12 years.” 

“Therefore I congratulate the Church of Vatican II, the Society, future vocations, but I do not congratulate him, although neither do I send him my condolences,” Father Masia wrote in conclusion.

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