From Desmond O'Grady in Rome SEVERAL national groupings of Jesuits have reacted sharply to Pope John Paul's appointment of a delegate with full powers over the order.
The French Provincial superior wrote to his Jesuits that ... "this decision is a test of our faith. It cannot he hidden that what is now imposed on it is outside our rules."
The two provincial superiors of Canada. in a Press Conference. confessed their surprise at the "unusual and unprecedented nomination".
According to Jesuit sources, surprise has also been expressed by the Spanish and American provincials in letters to the Pope. The American provincials are said to have written also on October 23 to John Paul's delegate. the 79-year-old Italian Father Paolo Dezza questioning the legality of his appointment.
Dezza is said to have replied by telex on October 26 acknowledging that his appointment was unusual but assuring the Americans that the constitutions of the order have not been suspended. He concluded with the hope that this response would bring peace to their souls.
In a sermon at the Jesuit Curia on November I. Father Dezza reaffirmed the importance of Jesuit Fidelity to the Pope.
This theme emerges strongly from a document prepared by Dezza on norms for the Jesuits while awaiting convocation of a General Congregation which will elect a successor to the convalescent Superior General Father Arrupe.
Dezza underlines that Jesuits should take as their point of reference St Ignatius Loyola's Rules for thinking with the church and points out that the Jesuits' founder punished any of his men who dared criticise the Pope from a pulpit.
"Love and criticism are two terms which cannot be reconciled as far as the Church is concerned even if nowadays one hears good and religious people make the illusory claim that the Church should be criticised out of love and in order to serve ii better".
He further maintains that the church should not be criticked even if it is too conservative. "In certain cases ecclesiastical authority has moved too slowly and with excessive prudence and. more generally, some norms and rulings of the Hierarchy can he questionable and cause perplexity. But even in these cases. one should abstain from public and corrosive criticism and try to give the best interpretation and justification".
Christ entrusted the magisterium to the hierarchy and not to theologians. Dezza recalls. "Theologians conclusions are subject to the Magisterium's judgement. And if the Magisterium does not accept them, theologians must not publicly teach them. contradicting the Magisterium and causing confusion and scandal. The only choice to make is respectful silence".
Dezza advises Jesuits to love enemies of the Church hut to avoid conniving with them, adding "no son would lose time in admiring and praising the artistic value of the dagger with which an assassin stabbed his mother's heart."
He returns to the mother son image in saving that the Jesuit's attitude to the church's faults must be that of a son to his mother's defects.
He asserts that the Hierarchical, Roman Church as presented by St Ignatius is the perennially valid model. The head of the Church is the Bishop of Rome. "The link with the Roman pontiff is the principle Foundation of the order".
Dezza's father was excommunicated for collaboration with what were considered anti catholic forces in Parma. Dezza's rectorship of the Gregorian university was terminated in the early 1950's for he was made a scapegoat when one of the faculty, Father Tendi, left to marry and become a Communist, Tondi, after the death of his wife, recently became a priest again.