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Reverend Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ (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 religious order of 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. 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. 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 Pastoral Institute of Manila, in the Philippines, from 1978 to 1984, and later served as rector of the novitiate 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 Toyko. In 1998 he clashed with the Vatican when he and several Asian bishops requested for more local authority for Church decisions. 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". 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".
In 2004 he was named Moderator of the Jesuit Conference for Eastern Asia and Oceania. 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 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 was also a Spanish missionary in Japan.
In addition to his native Spanish, Nicolás can speak English, Italian, French, and Japanese.
- Spaniard becomes new Black Pope - New York Times
- Habemus Papam: Jesuits Go Ad Orientem - Whispers in the Loggia
- Spaniard Adolfo Nicolás elected new Superior General of the Jesuits - Catholic News Agency