Quick quiz. Pope Francis (pictured here) is a member of what order?
You're right if you said the Jesuits, or, more formally, the Society of Jesus. In fact, Francis is the first Jesuit pope ever.
Why do I ask you that today? To remind all of us of the changing nature of religious organizations, for it was on this date in 1773 that a previous pope, Clement XIV, issued a formal decree that meant the dissolution of the Jesuit Order.
And today the pope is a Jesuit. Take that, Clement. That's the way it is sometimes with faith-based groups. Up today, down tomorrow.
The so-called Suppression of the Jesuits because of Vatican fear of their growing power is intriguing history. You can read about it in the link in the previous sentence or here, in a fuller description of the Jesuits.
Today, of course, Jesuits in the U.S. are noted especially for their commitment to education, and they operate such universities as Rockhurst in Kansas City.
The Jesuits weren't banished forever. They were restored in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. And, of course, today they enjoy the reflected glory of having one of their own on the throne of St. Peter. And Peter, as you know, was one of those who was part of the personal society of Jesus.
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GOD INSISTS YOU VOTE FOR THIS CANDIDATE
Now there's a group that wants to give the clergy the right to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. Apparently some people just like to throw bad ideas into the public square just to confirm that they're still bad. This one is beyond bad. What's the next bad idea? Concealed carry? Oh, wait. . .
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P.S.: Biblical scholar Marcus J. Borg's book, Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written, which I reviewed here last year, now is available in paperback.