Thursday, February 02, 2006

Resigning at 80

Before now, it's been speculation, though well-informed speculation. Now it's been officially announced:

ROME, FEB. 2, 2006 ( Father Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits, announced his intention to resign from his office, adding that he will convoke a general congregation to elect his successor.

In a letter he sent to the members of the Society of Jesus, Father Kolvenbach officially convoked the order's 35th General Congregation. It will open Jan. 5, 2008, in the General Curia of Rome.

The letter, published today, said: "During the Congregation of Procurators of 2003 and during the recent meeting of Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus, it became increasingly clear that the Society has reached a situation foreseen by Saint Ignatius in the Constitutions (680): in which there are 'very difficult things touching upon the whole body of the Society,' 'for more service to God our Lord.' It is a situation that requires a General Congregation."

Thus, the general congregation is convoked with the dual objective of electing a new superior general and addressing other important matters for the Society of Jesus.

Read the complete article Jesuits' Top Superior to Step Down from

As it's been noted elsewhere, Father Kolvenbach and Benedict XVI have a good relationship and that this will allow the pope to take a firmer hand in the choice of a new superior general. 2008 is a long way way and in the run-up to the general congregation the situation will no doubt change. How that affects successors will be interesting to watch.

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