Today's Important Election

No, not the election of a rich robotic and disingenuous Romney in Nevada, nor the victory of Hillary Clinton's increasingly underhand campaign, nor the success of Ron Paul, nor the South Carolina projections that may bring comfort to Mike Huckabee.

No, something more important than that. The Jesuits have just elected a new worldwide Superior-General in Rome. He's the former President of the East Asia section, Adolfo Nicolas. Father General Nicolas has extensive experience in Japan, the Phillippines and East Asia, whilst hailing from Spain. He stands as the 29th successor to Saint Ignatius Loyola and now leads the biggest Catholic Order of priests.

The Jesuit Father-general is often referred to as the 'Black Pope', as opposed to the 'White Pope' in the Vatican. The 'Red Pope' is the Cardinal Prefect of the Propaganda Fide, now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples.

The election signals that the Order intends to build on phenomenal success in Vietnam and to extend its lines in Myanmar and China. It also, of course, fits precisely with the long history of Jesuit involvement, often amounting to martyrdom, in East Asia.

The Jesuits have 20000 priest-members worldwide, but their work in education, human rights, charity and on-the-ground care for the flotsam of this globalised earth is legendary. I am constantly amazed by the way the members of the order reach into the otherwise lost parts of the world in the missions as well as touch the heights. They direct the Vatican Observatory, for instance, and are acknowledged as the pioneers of Astrophysics and the classification of the stars in the nineteenth century.

Rather appropriately, the election has taken place on the Day of the Blessed Virgin. Thanks are due to Rocco Palmo of the Whispers in the Loggia Blog for his page.

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