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Return of the Gnostic Jesuits

For how many decades have we been asking, “What’s happened to the Jesuits?” Ever since the days of Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point Christ and cosmic evolutionism, loyal Catholics, devout Catholics — indeed, even everyday Catholics — have been scratching their heads about certain characters in the Society of Jesus. You know, those who would have a very difficult time justifying to their order’s founder, St. Ignatius, what they’ve been doing, saying, and teaching during their Jesuit careers, yet who — ironically — are publicly lauded for their various heterodoxies and heresies.

Readers may recall some of the more egregious among them — for example, Robert Drinan, the Jesuit priest who served in the U.S. Congress from 1971 to 1981. Aside from defying the prohibition against priests serving as elected public officials, Fr. Drinan became known for his fervent advocacy of legal abortion.

Then there’s Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, past superior general of the order, who described the Catholic Church as “a complicated system of controls and regulations that make the Gospel somehow distant from people.” He even proposed alternatives to Catholic doctrine that he defined as “more liberating ways of religious wisdom and the experiences, impossible to systematize, of radical emptiness, non-dualism and transcendence” (L’Espresso, Jan. 23, 2008). Fr. Nicolás made his disdain for the Church even more palpable when he explained that “we Christians have to think and reconsider our Christian practices, from simple devotions to Sacramental celebrations.”

And, more recently, there’s Fr. Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit who, despite openly dissenting from the Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage and the priestly ordination of women, received the prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame this spring. He has described opposition to gay marriage as “demonizing people” and has said that the Church’s prohibition against women’s ordination is “shameful” and “nonsense” (Cardinal Newman Society, Apr. 4).

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