Adolfo Nicolás: Wikis


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Adolfo Nicolás Pachón
Born April 29, 1936 (1936-04-29) (age 73)
Villamuriel de Cerrato, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus

History of the Jesuits
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Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, S.J., S.T.D. (born April 29, 1936) is a Spanish priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the thirtieth and current Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest male religious order in the Church.



Adolfo Nicolás was born in Villamuriel de Cerrato, Palencia, and entered the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits, in the novitiate of Aranjuez in 1953 [1]. He studied at the University of Alcalá, there earning his licentiate in philosophy, until 1960, whence he traveled to Japan to familiarize himself with Japanese language and culture. Nicolás entered Sophia University in Tokyo, where he studied theology, in 1964, and was later ordained to the priesthood on March 17, 1967.

From 1968 to 1971, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from where he obtained his Master's degree in theology, and later earned a doctorate in theology. Upon his return to Japan, Nicolás was made professor of systematic theology at his alma mater of Sophia University, teaching there for the next thirty years.

He was Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University, in Quezon City, Philippines, from 1978 to 1984[2], and later served as rector of the theologate in Tokyo from 1991 to 1993, when he was appointed Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Japan. Nicolás remained in this post until 1999, and then spent three years doing pastoral work among poor immigrants in Tokyo. In 1998 he clashed with the Vatican when he and several Asian bishops requested for more local authority for Church decisions[3].

In 2004 he returned to the Philippines after he was named Moderator of the Jesuit Conference for Eastern Asia and Oceania[2][4]. As Moderator, he was responsible for the Jesuits of several countries, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Micronesia, Myanmar, and East Timor.

On the second ballot of the thirty-fifth General Congregation (GC XXXV) of the Society of Jesus, Nicolás was elected as the Order’s thirtieth[5] Superior General on January 19, 2008, succeeding the Dutch Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach. His election was immediately relayed to Pope Benedict XVI, who confirmed him in the post. Many have marked the similarities between Nicolás and former Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe, who, after having suffered a stroke, became the first Jesuit superior general to resign his office- with the urging and acceptance of the Vatican[5] under Pope John Paul II. Father Arrupe, like his eventual successor, was a Spanish missionary in Japan; Nicolás has described Arrupe, of whom he was once the personal barber, as a "great missionary, a national hero, a man on fire"[6]. He leads a congregation which currently numbers 19,126 members.[7]

In addition to his native Spanish, Nicolás can speak Catalan, English, Italian, French, and Japanese.[8]

Beliefs and values


Missionary work

He once stated, "Asia has a lot yet to offer the Church, to the whole Church, but we haven't done it yet. Maybe we have not been courageous enough, or we haven't taken the risks we should"[9]. In an article on Nicolás, Michael McVeigh said that Nicolás has also expressed his wariness of missionaries who are more concerned with teaching and imposing orthodoxy than in having a cultural experience with the local people, saying, "Those who enter into the lives of the people, they begin to question their own positions very radically."[9]

In the homily of the Mass celebrated after his election as Superior General, Nicolás emphasized service, based on the scriptural reading for that day, the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Benedict XVI's teaching on God is love. He stated: "The more we become as servants, the more pleased God is." Delving further on the scriptural passage and after relating an anecdote of experiences with the poor in Asia, he related poverty with having God as the only source of strength, pointing out that the Jesuit's strength is not in externals (power, media, etc.) nor in internal fortitude (research). "The poor only have God in whom to find strength. For us only God is our strength."

Nicolas also developed the following ideas: the message of the Jesuits is "a message of salvation" and the challenge of discerning the type of salvation that people today are waiting for.[10]

Obedience to Rome

After receiving a message from Pope Benedict asking the Society of Jesus to affirm its fidelity to the magisterium and the Holy See, the Congregation presided by Nicolás responded, "The Society of Jesus was born within the Church, we live in the Church, we were approved by the Church and we serve the Church. This is our vocation...[Unity with the pope] is the symbol of our union with Christ. It also is the guarantee that our mission will not be a 'small mission,' a project just of the Jesuits, but that our mission is the mission of the Church."[11]

Liberation theology

In a November 2008 interview with El Periodico, Nicolás described liberation theology as a "courageous and creative response to an unbearable situation of injustice in Latin America."[12] These remarks are particularly controversial since some forms of liberation theology have been denounced by Pope John Paul II[13] and by Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[14] However, the Superior General also added, "As with any theology, liberation theology needs years to mature. It's a shame that it has not been given a vote of confidence and that soon its wings will be cut before it learns to fly. It needs more time."[12]


  1. ^ "Election press release: Biographical Notes" (in Italian). Jesuit Press and Information Office. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2008-01-24. "29 aprile 1936: nasce a Palencia, Spagna; 15 settembre 1953: Entra nel noviziato di Aranjuez della Provincia Toletana (Spagna); 1958-1960: Licenza in Filosofia (Alcalá, Madrid);1964-1968: Teologia a Tokyo, Giappone; 17 marzo 1967: ordinato Sacerdote a Tokyo, Giappone; 1968-1971: Master in teologia sacra alla Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Roma; 1971: Professore di Teologia Sistematica alla Sophia University di Tokyo, Giappone; 1978-1984: Direttore Istituto Pastorale di Manila (Filippine); 1991-1993: Rettore dello Scolasticato (Tokyo, Giappone); 1993-1999: Provinciale della Provincia di Giappone; 2004-2007: Moderatore della Conferenza Gesuita dell’Asia Orientale e Oceania." 
  2. ^ a b Fr. Adolfo Nicolas elected Superior General of the Jesuits
  3. ^ TIME Magazine. Will the New "Black Pope" Work? January 19, 2008
  4. ^ JCEAO - About JCEAO
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Whispers in the Loggia. The "Second Arrupe" on the First January 20, 2008
  7. ^, Spaniard Adolfo Nicolás elected new Superior General of the Jesuits
  8. ^ Biografía, JESUITAS (Compañía de Jesús España).
  9. ^ a b McVeigh, Michael (2007-02-27). "Father Adolfo Nicolás". Province Express. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  10. ^ Fr. General's Homily, Gesu Church
  11. ^ Jesuits end meeting by approving decrees, confirming fidelity to pope, CNS March 7, 2008
  12. ^ a b Martin, James (2008-11-21). "Jesuit General: Liberation Theology "Courageous"". America: The National Catholic Weekly. 
  13. ^ "John Paul vs. Liberation Theology". TIME Magazine. 1979-02-12.,9171,920117,00.html. 
  14. ^ Ratzinger, Joseph (1984-08-06). "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"". Holy See. 

External links

Preceded by
Peter Hans Kolvenbach
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Succeeded by

Redirecting to Adolfo Nicolás


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