Ignatius: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis

Catholic and Enjoying It! | 2/21/2019 | Staff
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Dan Amiri continues over at Where Peter Is:

Finally, we should not neglect the importance of Francis being the first Jesuit pope. In many respects, it appears Francis’ Jesuit background has had an important influence on Pope Francis’ theology. Given the Jesuits lengthy history and its varying roles over time, it would be merely superficial to draw the many parallels between Francis’ papacy and the Jesuit order broadly. Rather, the goal here specifically is to focus on the parallels between Francis’ writings and an Ignatian spirituality, specifically as developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola himself.

Father - Robert - Imbelli - America - Magazine

As Father Robert Imbelli writes for America Magazine, Gaudete et Exsultate “is deeply Ignatian.” Indeed, Pope Francis cites St. Ignatius of Loyola several times in this document. Aside from those direct citations, Imbelli notes a few other clear overlaps between the writings of both.

Francis compares the spiritual life to a battle, a theme quite often used by St. Ignatius in his spiritual writings. This recurrent battle theme in St. Ignatius’ writings, of course, most likely flow from his own personal experiences as a soldier–that is, until his leg was shattered by a cannonball, prompting a deeper spirituality. Francis introduces a section entitled “Spiritual combat, vigilance and discernment” with the following:

Life - Battle - Strength - Courage - Temptations

The Christian life is a constant battle. We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.

James Hitchcock, author of The History of the Catholic Church, refers to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s program, particularly within the context of his times, as a “holy pragmatism.” In contrast to a dizzying maze of traditions and devotions that could make God both seemingly inaccessible and also necessarily accessible to those who successfully navigated their way through...
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