The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, has announced his intention to resign in late 2016. In a letter to the society released yesterday (May 20), Fr Nicolás said he had informed Pope Francis of his decision, which comes two years ahead of his 80th birthday.
‘Several years have passed since my election as Superior General of the Society and I have recently reached the age of 78. Reflecting on the coming years, I have reached the personal conviction that I should take the needed steps towards submitting my resignation to a General Congregation’, he writes.
‘After having discussed the matter with my Council, through this letter I wish to inform the whole Society that, towards the end of this year, I will convoke the 36th General Congregation, to be held during the final months of the year 2016.’
Fr Nicolás, a Spanish Jesuit, was elected to the post in 2008 after serving as moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania. While the position of Superior General - like that of the pope - is a life-long appointment, Fr Nicolás is not the first Jesuit to take this unusual step: his predecessor, Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, also resigned as Superior General of the Jesuits at the age of 79. Fr Kolvenbach noted upon his resignation that ‘the Society of Jesus has the right to be governed and animated by a Jesuit in full possession of his physical and spiritual talents and not by a companion whose energies continue to diminish because of age’.