Women and the Jesuits

An article was recently published in AMERICA magazine, speaking of why women cannot be Jesuits.

(1/21/21) by Fr. Geger. It was fascinating, as it gave the history in some detail, of two prominent women in the life of St. Ignatius; Isabel and Juana, the crown princess. This is my response to the article:

Thanks for this excellent article and food for thought.  One of the problems for women from Ignatius’ time to now is that some men considered a wife “property” rather than a loving companion.
In the story of Ignatius, Isabel and Juana, we see women who were trying to be saintly and love God, but they really needed their contacts with the men who were brilliant and engaged in trying to work for the greater glory of God.  They needed context and meaning, and male companionship which was not possessive; and marriage in the conventional sense wouldn’t have given it to them.  I have been re-reading Brian Doyle’s stories and poems, and one of the great gifts in them is his real love for his wife.  And he tells stories about his parents, a true marriage of hearts and minds, and spiritual companionship.  The Jesuits may not need women in the order, but women surely need the Jesuits in life.  Many women do not want to belong in a community of only women.  Our friendships and our faith help us to find the wholeness in human personhood that we long for, and invigorate our love and service to God.   As we move deeper into understanding relationships and human sexuality, perhaps all the orders will be reconsidering these issues.  It does seem true that the Jesuits, by history, will never have women in the order. But the men who move mountains will always inspire and create new communities, and not surprisingly, many brilliant and talented women will be part of those efforts.   

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