Jesuits in Atlanta react to new pope

6:29 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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(USA Today)

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- The Jesuit order dates back centuries in the Catholic Church. They have always been the intellectuals, the teachers, and the explorers.

There are six Jesuits in Atlanta. Father Edward Buvens, S.J.; Father Niel Jarreau, S.J.; and Father Bill George, S.J., were inside the Ignatius House Retreat in Sandy Springs following the selection of a new Pope Wednesday afternoon.

They were stunned that a fellow Jesuit became the Pontiff.

"Oh my God!" said Father George, who is on sabbatical in Atlanta. He served for years at Georgetown University and was president of Georgetown Prep Boys School.

"You would always tell people, there will never be a Jesuit pope! We're too outspoken!" he said.

And that is what makes all this interesting. No religious order has spent as many man years in jail over the centuries as the Jesuits.

Jesuits are about politics and social justice.

"I was worried when he first spoke, you know, fraternity and all that stuff," Father George said.

Formality has its place, Father George said, but not on that balcony -- on this day.

"But when he got a little more relaxed -- my brothers and sisters -- that brought to me, he's a Pope who will think of everyone in the church universal," he said.

When asked what he thinks the new pope will mean for the Catholic Church in America, Father George said, "I don't know, I'm not that good, but look, he is from South America. It's got to mean something significant to immigration and the role of the United States to the poor in Central and South America."

Father George will spend another month inside the he Ignatius House Retreat Center, which occupies 20 heavily wooded acres overlooking the Chattahoochee River. Father Niel Jarreau and Father Edward Buvens have been there for years.

"I think he will be strong with tradition, but I think when it comes to serving the poor in the modern world he would be willing to be adventurous," Father Buvens said of the new pope.

So does that mean Socialist or Marxist leanings from South America ? Not necessarily, said Father George.

"I think he is going to get quite an education as to how capitalism might support the church when he gets over there," he said. "Popes learn a lot as time goes on, I'm sure."

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