Pedro Arrupe and the Jesuits

Quoting Malachi Martin:

After ten long years of siege and battle against Troy, the wily Greeks constructed their giant weapon secretly, filled its hollow belly with the forces that would destroy the Trojans once they accepted the horse into the heart of their otherwise invincible city, and then departed in the dead of night, leaving the horse to tantalize the Trojans with curiosity the following morning.

Pedro Arrupe and his generation of Jesuits went those Greek warriors one better on every count. Over a space of ten years, from 1965 to 1975—the first decade of Arrupe’s Generalate—the Society’s leaders constructed their Trojan horse in broad daylight, under the eaves of the Pope’s residence, as it were; and they aimed not at the capture of one paltry city, but at capturing the momentum of the entire Roman Catholic Church, and at changing the sociopolitical structure of our contemporary world.

As the Greeks decked out their Trojan horse with all that would impress the enemy, so the Jesuits clothed theirs in the trappings most likely to impress their contemporaries. Even the name they gave it— ‘‘Renewal”— was an element in those trappings. Renewal of the Jesuit mission in the contemporary world, they said, was a necessary adaptation of the religious renewal demanded of all Catholics by the Second Vatican Council.

Even before the whole structure was finished, they made no bones about proclaiming its excellence to all and sundry. As they had done so often in the past, and true to their quest for corporate preeminence, the Jesuits were the first representative Roman Catholic body off the mark and running once “the spirit of Vatican II” began to blow the roof off the Catholic Church. They were the first to analyze the then current situation minutely and meticulously, even before the Second Vatican Council was over; the only ones to draw up detailed plans at such an early stage; and, in the heady years of 1975 to 1980—the final years of Pedro Arrupe’s Generalate—they were already perfectly placed as the vanguard and standard-bearers of the way in which Catholics should con- duct their lives and think about the world?

It was a simple enough matter by then to wheel their Trojan horse of renewal into the vacuum created by the papal weakness of Paul VI and the winds that were labeled ‘the spirit of Vatican II.’ Once in place, further enhancement of the renewed Jesuit mis- sion was achieved by presenting it as a faithful prolongation of the self-same mission Ignatius of Loyola had assigned to his Company of Jesuits.

It is difficult to say whether it was more grave that this renewed Jesuit mission was based on a distortion of what Vatican II demanded by way of religious renewal, or that it was an abandonment, rather than an adaptation, of classical Jesuitism as Ignatius had inaugurated it, and as Jesuits had practiced it for over four hundred years.

Distilled from all of its documents and statements, the intent, the effort, and the message of Vatican II were simple. They formed an attempt on the part of the Roman Catholic Church to present its age-old doctrines and moral outlook in a new way that would be intelligible to the minds of modern men and women. The Church changed no doctrine. It changed no part of its hierarchically structured bishops and Pope. It abandoned not one of its perennial moral laws. It affirmed all.

What it did do was go out of its way to turn to the contemporary world, and to say: Examine—re-examine, please—my Catholic aims. I can help you in your difficulties. I can channel guidance to you in your daily life, hope to you in your mortal days, and eternal life to you when you come to die.

In the renewed Jesuit mission, however, this turning of the Church to the world became the whole message. The Council’s attempt at presenting age-old Catholic belief and morality in freshly minted language was translated—one should really say it was transmogrified—into something that never entered the heads of the bishops who spoke to their world through the documents of Vatican II. All should be changed; the new Jesuit mission could have it no other way. What mattered now was the “people of God,” “the people’s Church”; and it alone had authority from God to teach what was to be believed.

There was nothing for it, then, but to insist that the hierarchic structure of the Roman Church must be “adapted” to this modern view of the modern mind and of modern conditions. The prerogatives of the Pope—his teaching authority and his personal infallibility—as well as the dogmas and moral rules inherited from the recent and remote past of Catholicism—all of it could and must be changed. Abandoned. ‘‘Adapted.”

The Jesuit distortion went further, of course. For no such presentation of the teaching of the Church or of one of its Councils would have been possible without a fatal distortion of classical Jesuitism, the bedrock and foundation on which the Society rested.

Classical Jesuitism, based on the spiritual teaching of Ignatius, saw the Jesuit mission in very clear outline. There was a perpetual state of war on earth between Christ and Lucifer. Those who fought on Christ’s side, the truly choice fighters, served the Roman Pontiff diligently, were at his complete disposal, were “Pope’s Men.” The ‘‘Kingdom” being fought over was the Heaven of God’s glory. The enemy, the archenemy, the only enemy, was Lucifer. The weapons Jesuits used were supernatural: the Sacraments, preaching, writing, suffering. The objective was spiritual, supernatural, and otherworldly. It was simply this: that as many individuals as possible would die in a state of supernatural grace and friendship with their Savior so that they would spend eternity with God, their Creator.

The renewed Jesuit mission debased this Ignatian ideal of the Jesuits. The “Kingdom” being fought over was the “Kingdom” everyone fights over and always has: material well-being. The enemy was now economic, political, and social: the secular system called democratic and economic capitalism. The objective was material: to uproot poverty and injustice, which were caused by capitalism, and the betterment of the millions who suffered want and injustice from that capitalism. The weapons to be used now were those of social agitation, labor relations, sociopolitical movements, government offices. If necessary, even armed and violent revolution was sanctioned for Jesuits; as Father General Arrupe once commented, only a Jesuit on the scene could make such a judgment.

Immediately, the most basic elements of Jesuitism were affected. Obedience and service to the papacy were replaced by on-the-spot independent Jesuit judgment based on purely social conditions. Unilaterally, the Jesuits centered their mission within the prime geopolitical struggle of the twentieth-century world; and because they still wore their public mantle as the Pope’s men, their leadership at a vital moment went a long way toward dragging the radical papal strategy of the present Pope into deep compromise and jeopardy. While the Pontiff fought to blaze a way out of the injustice caused by capitalism and by Marxism, a far too simplistic and even Manichean dualism was frozen into the new Jesuit vision. The poor who were good, were being trampled by the nonpoor who were evil. The “preferential option for the poor’ absolutized revolutionary thought and divinized political action.

It is safe to say that one man can be pointed out as summarily responsible for this complete turnabout of the Society of Jesus— Pedro Arrupe, the twenty-seventh General of the Society. To say that, however, is not to pillory the man for a catalog of his personal failings—his diluted beliefs in basic Catholic doctrines such as papal infallibility, and in basic Catholic moral laws such as those governing sexuality and abortion; his deviousness vis-a-vis the Jesuit vow of fidelity to the Pope; his fecklessness regarding the basic pieties of Jesuitism; his unwarranted partisanship of left- wing religious views. In his prolonged illness with its sufferings, and in whatever Purgatory Christ exacts from him after death, perfect judgment will be passed on Pedro de Arrupe y Gondra.

Rather, it is the errors of Arrupism, which lives on in the Society as its ruling ethos, that clamor for judgment. And, in particular, one principal error of Arrupe’s about man and man’s destiny on this earth.

The basic error of Arrupism was that it turned the mighty energies of Ignatius’s Society to achieve the ideal of the New Man in a terrestrial setting, leaving the supernatural ideal presumably to be taken care of at a later stage, once the here-and-now was established in ideal conditions. All of Arrupe’s other mistakes—his neglect of papal warnings, his disobedience to the wishes of three Popes, his sanctioning of excesses in his Jesuits that violated the laws of God and the traditional rules for religious behavior— flowed from this one error.

The historical rationale for his pursuit of this erroneous ideal was what has been called ‘“Arrupe’s apocalypse.”’ To be sure, he was a privileged witness and survivor of the devastating explosion of “Little Boy” over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. And to be sure, he regarded that event in an apocalyptic light. The only difficulty is that the atomic explosion was not apocalyptic, was not even remotely like what Catholic faith teaches about the real Apocalypse at the end of this mortal globe’s existence. ‘Little Boy’ was the biggest, dirtiest military weapon ever used. There are now bigger and dirtier in daily preparedness; yet, in turn, their horrible devastation would not be apocalyptic. And there remains no hard evidence that the world is rushing to an atomic incineration. Every year, the danger of that recedes. The dominant reality of our human cosmos today augurs quite a different future.

Nevertheless, Arrupe took that atomic explosion as nothing less than a cleavage of history, an event that literally, in his eyes, cut him, his Society, the Church, and all of us off from everything that had gone before. A new era had dawned of whose horrors and devastation the Hiroshima explosion was only a foretaste.

Just as the institutions of the various national states and of the Church had not been able to save the people from the decentralizing devastation of ‘Little Boy,” so in this new era neither the Church as an institution, nor any of the secular states and governments of the world, would suffice. If that was true, then it followed that the Society would be of no use either, if it continued in its old traditional tracks. The Society’s energies had to be redirected, totally overhauled; they had to concentrate on the material condi- tions of the people. With effort, the New Man for the new era could be fashioned, in spite of the “apocalypse.”

So the Society, through the Decrees of GC31 and GC32, was made over to serve in a new mission, sociopolitical in character, antipapal and antihierarchic Church in its bent, and beyond control of the papacy. Within the Society, the traditional mode of Jesuitism was wrecked. Arrupe and his Jesuits were now on fire with a passion to help the New Man build his new world.

It never seemed to strike Arrupe or his generation of Jesuits that he and they had become Modernists; that Arrupism was merely the latest shape taken by the undercurrent of Modernism that had been flowing steadily through the arteries of the Church and the Society for over a hundred years. Arrupe and his generation of Jesuits were merely accepting that current as their guide and model in the “new” Jesuit way of thinking. Their corporate des- tiny became meager survival: to be alive after “the spirit of Vatican II’’ blew the roof off traditional Roman Catholicism, and the “spirit of renewal” was proclaimed with its double principle, the rejection of the old and the adoption of whatever was new.

The wide non-Catholic world might well shake its head at all this as just one more sorry tale of intra-Catholic decadence if it were not for the fact that Arrupism—the new Jesuitism—throws the considerable weight of the Society of Jesus into the scales in favor of those who regard both democratic capitalism and economic capitalism as the great evils to be scourged from human society. For the new Jesuit passion to build man’s world did not burn in some never-never land of make-believe. From the beginning, it was a hands-on exercise in the worldliest of worldly affairs. Arrupe knew his Jesuits in Central America were training Marxist cadres; were themselves active Communist guerrillas; were cabinet members of a Marxist government, were fomenters of revolution; were participants in bloody and sometimes sacrilegious events. How could he have accepted all that in the teeth of papal pleas, objections, and complaints, and still remain a Jesuit in the classical sense?

His treatment of the Soviets makes one think further. On his way to Sri Lanka and Indonesia for meetings with Jesuit Superiors of those regions in July 1977, Arrupe stopped off in Moscow where he welcomed every effort to make him feel that he was on the right track. The Soviet authorities allowed him to preach at a Russian Orthodox service in the Church of the Dormition in Novodevichy Monastery. The permission came through Metropolitan Juvenali, head of the External Affairs Department of the Orthodox Church. Arrupe was honored there by a visit from the infamous Metropolitan Nikodim, second-highest ranking prelate in the Soviet Union. And he was so feted and welcomed by these two colonels of the KGB that, after his return to Rome, he spoke glowingly of the “growing religious vitality” in the Soviet Union and, he said, the obviously greater interest in religion demonstrated by the detailed way the Tass News Agency had covered his trip.

This was the madness of Arrupe’s position, of course; he attracted the Soviets the way mayflies attract trout. But it was a madness reflected faithfully in the Society he led. It became part and parcel of Arrupism that in the continually seesawing struggle between the two superpowers—between capitalism and socialism —the weight of Arrupe’s Society was thrown against capitalism. And so it remains today.

~ from The Jesuits, by Malachi Martin
(Simon and Schuster, 1988, pages 476-481 )