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Jesuits explain their process for electing new superior general


Jesuit Father Orlando Torres, rector of the International Gesu College in Rome, gestures during a Sept. 27 news conference in Rome to discuss the general congregation meeting, which will open Oct. 2. Father Patrick Mulemi, communications director at the Jesuit headquarters, is pictured at right. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

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ROME (CNS) -- The Jesuits have a unique process for electing a superior general for their order, a process that "if you have not seen it, you would think it is impossible," said Spanish Jesuit Father Orlando Torres, rector of an international Jesuit house of studies in Rome.

"I've never seen an election like this anywhere in the world," Father Torres told reporters in Rome Sept. 27 as 215 Jesuits from around the world were preparing to begin a general congregation and elect a successor to 80-year-old Spanish Father Adolfo Nicolas.

Going into the meeting, which begins Oct. 2, there are no candidates, Father Torres said. After discussing the state of the Society of Jesus -- where it is growing and shrinking, its strengths and weaknesses -- the delegates begin four days of "murmuratio," a series of one-on-one conversations designed to elicit information about Jesuits who may have the qualities needed to lead the world's largest religious order of men.

If, for example, a delegate believes the situation of the Society of Jesus in Europe should be a priority for the next superior, he said, a delegate would ask another, "Do you know someone who could do this work and respond to the needs of the society today?" If the person says he knows someone, the delegate would ask, "What are his qualities? Tell me, what are his limitations?"

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