IT was rather like the Queen accusing the Household
Cavalry of mutiny when the first news came last week of the Pope's indirect rebuke to the Jesuits. The Pope is reported to have said that he had heard rumours of "strange things" ' happening in the Society of Jesus and other orders.
The Jesuits were then congratulated on putting their house in order and "dispersing most of the clouds obscuring the sky" at their General Congregation in Rome. Earlier in his speech the Pope emphasised that the Jesuits must not loosen the bonds of obedience binding them to the Pope in persona reference to the special vow which only Jesuits take to the Pontiff.
It is this special relationship that exists between them and the Pope that must not be forgotten when considering the issue. Because of these personal bonds a Pope can speak to his "Sacred Militia" with a candour that will not only impress them, but will also rebound with equal effect on all the troops of the Church Militant. If the elite of any army is brought to order the impact is eventually felt further down the line.
If this was the Pope's intention it clearly explains the mention in his speech to "other orders." There are, of course, many Jesuits in the van of the new speculative thinking within the Church yet the impression remains that it was just as much, if not more, to those other orders and secular priests that the Pope was directing his fire.
He, no doubt, feels that the liberalising of the Church in the post-Conciliar era can, in some respects, go too fast and too far. Reform, if the speed is too quick, can kill the very institution that it was meant to save.
Gradualism may be less histrionic than revolution, but in the last analysis it is usually less costly and more enduring.