Superior General of the Society of Jesus

Superior General of the Society of Jesus

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 current Superior General is the Reverend Father Adolfo Nicolás.


). 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

"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.


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 exceptions being Father Pedro Arrupe (resigned for reasons of failing health), and his successor, Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach. Kolvenbach's resignation was announced in February 2006, which led to the convocation of the 35th General Congregation. That General Congregation elected the current Superior General of the Society, Father Adolfo Nicolás [ [ News on the elections of the new Superior General] ] , who succeeded Kolvenbach.

List of Superiors General

Leadership during suppression

In 1773, the Jesuits were suppressed by Pope Clement XIV through the brief "Dominus ac redemptor" on July 21 1773, executed

*Stanislaus Czerniewicz (October 17 1782–October 21 1785)
*Gabriel Lenkiewicz (October 8 1785–October 21 1798)
*Franciszek Kareu (February 12 1799–March 7 1801)

On March 7 1801, Pope Pius VII issued the brief "Catholicae fidei", giving approval to the existence of the Society in Russia and allowing the Society there to elect a Superior General for Russia. This was the first step to the Society's eventual restoration. The generals in Russia were:

*Franciszek Kareu (March 7 1801–August 11 1802)
*Gabriel Gruber (October 22 1802–April 6 1805)
*Tadeusz Brzozowski (September 14 1805–August 7 1814)

The order was restored on August 7 1814 by Pope Pius VII through the bull "Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum".


External links

* [ The Goa Jesuit Province of the Society of Jesus] - The Jesuits in Goa
* [ New York Jesuit Province History Page on the Suppression]

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