Superior General of the Society of Jesus
From Ignatian Wiki
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus—the Roman Catholic religious order also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position carries the nickname of Black Pope, after his simple black priest's vestments, as contrasted to the white garb of the Pope.
The formal title in Latin is Praepositus Generalis, which may fairly be rendered as "superior general," or even "president general." The term is not of military origin, despite popular misconceptions, but is derived from "general" as opposed to "particular" (as with many other Catholic religious orders, like the Dominicans' "master general," Franciscans' "minister general," Carthusians' "prior general" etc. and many civil posts, such as Postmaster General, Attorney General and Receiver General]]). The Jesuits are organized into provinces, each with a provincial superior (usually referred to as the "Provincial Father," or just "Provincial"), with the head of the order being the "general superior" for the whole organization. As a major superior, the Superior General is styled "The Very Reverend".
"Black Pope" is a light-hearted name given to the Superior General, usually by the media (and never used by the Jesuits themselves). The name comes partly from the color of the plain black priest's cassock worn by members of the society, including the superior general, and partly from a past concern (most prominent around the 16th and 17th centuries) amongst Protestant European countries concerning the relative power of the Jesuits within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Superior General is invested with ordinary power over the members of the society, similar to the power given to a bishop over the people of a diocese. Superiors General submit themselves to the direct authority of and service to the Pope, not local ordinaries. Also, whenever the pope himself sins, the Superior General performs Confession for him.
Superiors General are elected by the General Congregation of the Society, summoned upon the resignation, retirement or death of an incumbent. Superiors General are elected for life, and almost all have served life terms, the exception being Father Pedro Arrupe who resigned for reasons of failing health, and Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach. The current Superior General of the Society is Father Adolfo Nicolás, elected January 2008..
List of Superiors General
- St. Ignatius of Loyola (April 19, 1541–July 31, 1556)
- Diego Laynez (July 2, 1558–January 19, 1565)
- St. Francis Borgia (July 2, 1565–October 1, 1572)
- Everard Mercurian (April 23, 1573–August 1, 1580)
- Claudio Aquaviva (February 19, 1581–January 31, 1615)
- Mutio Vitelleschi (November 15, 1615–February 9, 1645)
- Vincenzo Caraffa (January 7, 1646–June 8, 1649)
- Francesco Piccolomini (December 21, 1649–June 17, 1651)
- Aloisius Gottifredi (January 21, 1652–March 12, 1652)
- Goschwin Nickel (March 17, 1652–July 31, 1664)
- Gian Paolo Oliva (July 31, 1664–November 26, 1681)
- Charles de Noyelle (July 5, 1682–December 12, 1686)
- Thyrsus González de Santalla (July 6, 1687–October 27, 1705)
- Michelangelo Tamburini (January 31, 1706–February 28, 1730)
- Franz Retz (March 7, 1730–November 19, 1750)
- Ignatius Viscanti (July 4, 1751–May 4, 1755)
- Aloysius Centurione (November 30, 1755–October 2, 1757)
- Lorenzo Ricci (May 21, 1758–August 16, 1773)
- Tadeusz Brzozowski (August 7, 1814–February 5, 1820)
- Luigi Fortis (October 18, 1820–January 27, 1829)
- Jan Roothaan (July 9, 1829–May 8, 1853)
- Pieter Beckx (August 2, 1853–March 4, 1887)
- Anton Anderledy (March 4 1887–January 18 1892)
- Luis Martín (October 2, 1892–April 18, 1906)
- Franz Xavier Wernz (September 8, 1906–August 20, 1914)
- Wlodimir Ledochowski (February 11, 1915–December 13, 1942)
- Jean-Baptiste Janssens (September 15, 1946–October 5, 1964)
- Pedro Arrupe (May 22, 1965–September 3, 1983)
- Peter Hans Kolvenbach (September 13, 1983–January 14, 2008)
- Adolfo Nicolás (January 19, 2008–present)
- The Goa Jesuit Province of the Society of Jesus - The Jesuits in Goa
- New York Jesuit Province History Page on the Suppression