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Friday, June 20, 2008

Father Adolfo Nicolás on obedience

I saw an interview at Thinking Faith - The New Jesuit General, Part One: What do you ask of the Jesuits? - conducted with the new Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolás, by Tomasz Kot SJ and Jan Koenot SJ in Rome on 7 March 2008, two days after the end of the General Congregation. The whole thing is worth a read but I really liked his take on the concept of obedience, and thought I'd post that bit here ........


The Pope himself referred to Jesuits at the utmost of their creativity – De Nobili, Ricci and the reductions in South America.

That’s right. Note: it is the Pope who is asking for creativity. While he is asking for obedience he is asking for an obedience that is open to creativity. This is not the kind of obedience saying ‘I act because of the decisions of somebody else,’ which in fact is not real obedience (we should give it a different name!). Obedience means: we together are searching for what is the best for the kingdom of God, what is the will of God, what is good for people.

Don’t you think that the creativity of the Jesuits in the Church is not very well perceived by some people?

Many people have a wrong idea of obedience. They think obedience is giving up the talents you have received, giving up thinking and being creative, giving things up for the sake of becoming some kind of slave or robot carrying out somebody else’s thinking. This is not an authentic way to be human; this could never be obedience. Another thing is that people think safety lies in not creating, but that is simply an expression of lack of imagination. I think an apostle, a pastor, a parish priest, a teacher, an educator without imagination and creativity would be a disaster. He would just try to impose on everybody one, limited, constricted, rigid approach, and that would be very bad for everyone.



Anonymous paul maurice martin said...

I like it. It seems to me that religious obedience has to occur at the place where we meet God first-hand - and we're obeying that, responsive to that, saying yes to what's present in that encounter.

Anything less and we're at risk of merely submitting our will to that of another flawed human being.

7:59 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Paul,

That's a good description. I think the Jesuits have been dinged with the accusation of disobedience in the past and so it's interesting to see what the new superior has to say about it.

8:25 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Very nicely said, Paul.

"an obedience that is open to creativity."

That makes sense to me, as I think the creative process is one of the most powerful ways in which God reaches out to us.

8:56 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi William :)

2:49 PM  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...

That's a very refreshing thing to hear. The Church needs more people in high places to think like that.

7:56 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, it's reassurring that this kind of guy was chosen as the new superior.

11:43 PM  

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