Jesuits choose Adolfo Nicolás as their new Superior General

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saint Ignatius of Loyola served as the first Superior General.

Following four days of prayer and discussions among the 217 electors representing more than 19,000 members worldwide, the Society of Jesus, whose members are also known as Jesuits, chose Adolfo Nicolás yesterday as their new Superior General.

Father Nicolás, 71, born in Villamuriel de Cerrato, Palencia, Spain, is now the thirtieth "black pope", as the Superior General is known for his black priest's vestments, of the largest religious order of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican reported that Pope Benedict XVI was the first to know of the Jesuits' decision and immediately gave his required approval.

The Jesuit congregation in their headquarters in Rome, a block away from the Vatican, followed the unexpected resignation of Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who requested, with the Pope's approval, that he be removed from his usually life-long position citing his old age (he turns 80 this year) and years of service to the order.

Father Nicolás joined the order in Spain in 1953, traveled in 1960 to Japan, was ordained in March 17, 1967 in Tokyo, became director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila, and later became moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.

In addition to his native Spanish, Nicolás can speak English, Italian, French, and Japanese.

The congregation is composed of days of prayer and quiet one-on-one conversations among the delegates. It is forbidden to lobby for the post, and anyone actively seeking to obtain the job is automatically disqualified.