Statements on Pope Francis' Election from Presidents of AJCU and Jesuit Institutions

On Wednesday, March 13th, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the first Jesuit Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The presidents of AJCU and the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities have issued statements on this historic election.
Press releases

Statements on Pope Francis' Election from Presidents of AJCU and Jesuit Institutions
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis (Catholic News Service)


"In the name of the Society of Jesus, I give thanks to God for the election of our new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., which opens for the Church a path full of hope.

All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time. The name of "Francis" by which we shall now know him evokes for us the Holy Father's evangelical spirit of closeness to the poor, his identification with simple people, and his commitment to the renewal of the Church. From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth.

The distinguishing mark of our Society is that it is . . . a companionship . . . bound to the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service." (Complementary Norms, No. 2, § 2) Thus, we share the joy of the whole Church, and at the same time, wish to express our renewed availability to be sent into the vineyard of the Lord, according to the spirit of our special vow of obedience, that so distinctively unites us with the Holy Father (General Congregation 35, Decree 1, No. 17)" - Rev. Adolfo Nicolás SJ


"It has been a truly historic day for the Society of Jesus as we learned that our brother, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was selected to lead the Catholic Church as Pope Francis. As Jesuits, we emphasize social justice in our ministry, and we are gratified to have a leader who will continue to live out this mission on a global stage. We pray that the Pope's grounding in Ignatian spirituality will guide him as he carries out this extraordinary calling to lead the Church of the 21st century." - Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, SJ


“As the president of a Jesuit college, I am intrigued and excited by the election of the first member of the Society of Jesus as pope.  All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope. This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church.” - John J. Hurley, JD


"On this historic day, on behalf of the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the entire Holy Cross Community, I joyfully extend our prayers and best wishes to Pope Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. As he begins his spiritual leadership, we also offer prayers for the Church here in the United States and around the world in the days, months, and years ahead. We are also grateful to the 115 cardinals who were blessed by the Holy Spirit during their discernment over the past three days.

Whatever our individual faith traditions and beliefs, here at Holy Cross we are members of the Jesuit higher education community—and together we celebrate both the first member of the Society of Jesus and the first native of Latin America to lead the Church. I know you join me not only in celebrating this day, but also in reflecting on this news in your classrooms and conversations. You will be interested in knowing that several experts from our faculty will be called upon today and in the days ahead to comment on the election of Pope Francis." - Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, SJ


"Creighton University joins the Archdiocese of Omaha and our colleagues throughout the world in thanking God for the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, of Argentina, known now as Pope Francis I. As a Catholic, Jesuit university founded, and continuing, in deep relationship with the Church, it is with joy we welcome the new pontiff. We are especially pleased and thankful that Pope Francis I is a member of the Society of Jesus—the first Jesuit pope! May God bless Pope Francis on his journey of spiritual leadership." - Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, SJ


"Today we celebrate the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the first Jesuit pope in the Church's history and the first non-European in more than a millennium. The election of a pope from Latin America is an expression of optimism and courage on the part of the Conclave. In these complex and challenging times, there is an opportunity for renewal and reflection for the Church, and closer to home, for discussion and learning on our Jesuit campuses.

We know that as a Jesuit, Pope Francis has been through a rigorous course of studies. He has held positions of significance in the Society of Jesus, and served during some of the most challenging times in the Church's and the Jesuits' history. The fact that he has chosen the name Francis is also significant. There has been no other pope who has chosen this name. St. Francis is, of course, nearly everyone's favorite saint, well-known for his love of nature, of the poor, and of simplicity of life. Pope Francis himself is known to be a man of the utmost simplicity.

We join our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe in saluting Pope Francis. At this historic moment for the Church, we offer prayers for strength, wisdom, and courage for our new pope as he assumes this great and sacred responsibility. With God's guidance, may he lead the Church to greater unity and faithfulness to her Lord and become an inspirational leader, not only for his flock, but indeed, for the world." - Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, SJ


"This is a week for celebration: not only do we have a pope, we have a Jesuit pope, and one whose work with, and concern for, the poor and disenfranchised is of a piece with Fordham’s mission and ideals. We join the Jesuit community and the worldwide body of the church in celebrating the election of Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, SJ, as Pope Francis. On Tuesday, March 19, we will to mark the elevation of Pope Francis by celebrating Mass at noon in the University Church on the Rose Hill campus. I hope you can be with us there. I know you join with us in prayer for the Holy Father, both in thanks for his election, and that he may long lead the church with wisdom and grace." - Rev. Joseph M. McShane, SJ


“On this joyous day, we offer our prayers of thanksgiving and celebration for the new Holy Father, Pope Francis. This is an historic moment for our Church and for our community that the first Jesuit and the first Cardinal from the Americas has become Pope, the leader of our global community of believers.

Our work at Georgetown is informed by the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. This very same tradition played an essential role in the formation of our new Pope, and we have seen it expressed in his preference and care for the poor, his vow of poverty, and his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. We are grateful to share this spiritual affinity with our new Pontiff.” - John J. DeGioia, Ph.D.


"With white smoke, tolling bells and the announcement, “Habemus Papam,” Catholics around the world awaited word of who had been chosen to next lead the Church.  Gonzaga, in unison with the Church in Eastern Washington and the worldwide Society of Jesus, rejoices in the election of Pope Francis – the first Bishop of Rome to come from outside of Europe in the modern era.
Together with Catholics throughout the world, we pray for our Holy Father as he assumes the enormous burden of leading the Church as the head of the College of Bishops during this era.  We pray that the perspective he brings out of his intellectual and spiritual formation in the Jesuits and his pastoral ministry in Argentina – in particular the example he has shown through his commitment to the poor and marginalized, and the humility he has demonstrated through the simplicity of his daily life – will be a reflection of the values that will inform the directions and decisions of our Church under his leadership.
We pray for our new Pope Francis: that through his efforts on behalf of the worldwide Church and the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, humble animator of the Holy Spirit, and St. Francis Xavier, one of St. Ignatius’ original companions and Patron of Missions – his Pontificate will be a time of renewal and many blessings for all of God’s people." - Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.


"John Carroll University rejoices in the election Pope Francis I. We offer the Holy Father our prayers and support. John Carroll looks forward to continuing our Catholic mission in union with the universal church under the leadership of our first-ever Jesuit pontiff." - Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, SJ


“This is a historic and unprecedented time for the Society of Jesus and, by extension, Le Moyne College. As we received word of the selection of the first-ever Jesuit, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, as Pope, there was a feeling of great excitement and pride across our campus. We join Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham, the clergy and the faithful of the region in praying for and with our new pontiff, Francis – a man who has long been devoted to the core Jesuit issue of social justice. We embrace the pontiff’s leadership as he guides the world’s Catholics during this critical time in the Church’s history.” - Fred Pestello, Ph.D.


"It is with profound happiness that we welcome the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the next Bishop of Rome and Pope to the more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the globe.  Of course, that he was ordained and served as a Jesuit has special resonance with the LMU community.

He has had a remarkable, faithful career in Argentina, where he has shown himself to be a thoughtful, humble and devout leader and servant. Truth, caring and sacrifice have marked his life, and his knowledge of Catholic theology and history bodes well for the Church and the world community.

We offer our prayer and support to Pope Francis. The challenges he faces are multiple and complex.  We recall, too, with thanks and reverence the work of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.  We celebrate the careful deliberations of the College of Cardinals and we enter this chapter in the history of the church with optimism and confidence." - David W. Burcham, JD


"It was with great anticipation that we learned yesterday that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as our new pope, Pope Francis. His selection as the first Jesuit elected to that most holy of offices comes as a surprise to most Jesuits, who see ourselves as working for the Holy Father on the frontiers of knowledge and service to humanity, and most importantly to the poor and marginalized. Our work is most often in schools, parishes, refugee camps, and retreat houses, not usually in the halls of Church administration.

And yet, Pope Francis is very deeply rooted in his—our—tradition, which has been handed down and entrusted to us from our founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. Pope Francis was a professor and rector of a theological faculty. He is very familiar with academia and he taught literature, psychology, philosophy, and theology before becoming Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is uniquely committed to social justice and the plight of the poor, and his worldview is most assuredly rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, of which he is a dedicated scholar and student.

Please join me in praying for Pope Francis and for our Church. It is our hope that together we can continue to inspire and engage women and men for lives of service to our communities and to the world." - Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, SJ


"As we at Loyola University Maryland welcome Pope Francis I, we ask God to bless him in his ministry to the Catholic Church and to the world. It is so gratifying to our academic and faith community that our Holy Father is not only an accomplished intellectual in the tradition of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI but also that he is a member of the Society of Jesus, the order whose ideals guide our university. As a Jesuit, he appreciates the principles we treasure here at Loyola, understands our mission as a university and the responsibilities we hold, and he embraces our commitment to social justice.

At this time of much division in our Church and throughout the world, how meaningful that our Holy Father chose the name Francis, the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who was called to rebuild Christ's church on earth. We recognize that Pope Francis will need to bridge gaps both within the Roman Catholic Church and between Catholics and people of other faiths, and we support him in his efforts to do so.

As Pope Francis I embraces the many challenges ahead, always working to accomplish them for the greater glory of God, we will keep him in our prayers. At this time we can reflect on the words of St. Francis of Assisi, "Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Rev. Brian F. Linnane, SJ


"Habemus Papam! (We have a new pope!) Today, we are witnessing history as we share this moment together. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was chosen from the Jesuit order to become the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was named the new pope—the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, the first Jesuit pope in history, and the first pope from the Americas. 

As a Jesuit and Catholic university, Loyola University New Orleans continues its mission of preparing students to lead meaningful lives with and for others; to pursue truth, wisdom, and virtue; and to work for a more just world. These are integral to the Jesuit tradition of education which is deeply rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I am delighted to see a man who entered religious life as member of the Society of Jesus become the new spiritual father of the faithful.

The name chosen by Cardinal Bergoglio, Pope Francis I, is also historic and holds significant meaning. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most iconic and beloved saints in Catholicism, and his name symbolizes poverty, humility, simplicity, and reform. This is fitting of our new pope. Since 1998, Pope Francis I has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people. He rides the bus, visits the poor, lives in a simple apartment and cooks his own meals. In his home country, many know him simply as “Father Jorge.” As we learn more of the vision of Pope Francis I in the coming days, please join me in praying for the new leader as he begins his historic papacy." - Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, SJ


"As president of a Catholic, Jesuit institution, it was a historic moment to hear the conclave’s choice of Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, the first-ever Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Western Hemisphere. The pope is the face of Catholicism and a servant of God for the entire world. I’m confident Pope Francis – who has made it his life’s ministry to connect with the poor and the suffering – will represent the perspectives of a truly global faith community in a world that is more interconnected and diverse than ever before.
This is a moment of great faith for Catholics worldwide. It can serve as a spark to ignite a renewed sense of energy and passion into the Catholic Church, and especially young people, who will be the future of the Church. It is a renewal of the commitment we have made to lead our lives for the greater glory of God and the well-being of the world. The day-to-day work of the Catholic faithful continues as it has for thousands of years. The work Marquette University does to educate the next generation of leaders as one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States is renewed and reinvigorated." - Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, SJ


"Regis University, Colorado’s only Jesuit Catholic university, joins the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, friends of the Church and everyone of all faiths and beliefs in celebrating the historic election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ as Pope Francis. The announcement is even more remarkable given that Pope Francis becomes the first Jesuit to be elected as the spiritual leader of the global Catholic community. As the first Pope from the Americas, Pope Francis’ election also signals increased optimism about the future of the Catholic Church. In South America it certainly indicates a new day, that the Roman Catholic Church sees itself as a world Church not Eurocentric.

Finally, a Jesuit pope is significant for Regis University and Jesuit higher education, as there are numerous Jesuit universities and high schools around the world. The Society of Jesus is known for its “Can Do” attitude, Jesuits are highly educated and trained (commensurate with his peers in the Society, Pope Francis holds a doctorate), and Pope Francis knows that the Society of Jesus has made a preferential option for the poor. In Pope Francis’ opening moments of being before the world, he was silent first…listening. Then he asked that before he prays for the people of God and the world, that they pray for him. We will continue to pray that God will grant Pope Francis the wisdom and grace to lead the Church into the future." - Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, SJ


"When St. Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, also known as Jesuits, he wanted a distinctive mark of his community to be a life in companionship with all people. The early Jesuits captured this solidarity with the notion that “the world is our home.”  A Jesuit is bound especially in his love and service to the Holy Father.  To have Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, as the 266th Pontiff and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere, offers the Rockhurst University community, one of the 180 Jesuit institutions of higher learning in the world, a unique invitation to seek and find God in all things, people and cultures.

When Cardinal Bergoglio, known to his companions in Buenos Aires, Argentina as “Father Jorge,” selected the name Francis he indicated his way of proceeding: 'Preach the gospel always and if necessary use words.' May the simplicity, generosity and inclusiveness of St. Francis and Padre Francisco invite all of us to live simply, to give of ourselves generously, and love inclusively in imitation of the God who created us." - Rev. Thomas B. Curran


"This is a time of celebration -- of our faith, of our respective missions and of the Jesuit tradition. We offer congratulations to Pope Francis and look forward to a period of great community in the Church. We share the world's fascination with the new Pontiff as he embraces the enormous challenges of our times in the humble spirit of Ignatius." - Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, SJ


"The election of the first Jesuit pope in history was truly a joyful moment for all of us at Saint Louis University. With his tremendous humility, grace and concern for the poor, Pope Francis will undoubtedly inspire our students, faculty and staff as they serve humanity with a higher purpose in mind. Everyone affiliated with Jesuit higher education feels a sense of pride in this historic papal election. With the teachings of St. Ignatius guiding the Holy Father, Pope Francis will lead millions of Catholics around the world, unifying us in our faith and in our shared commitment to work for the greater glory of God." - Rev. Lawrence Biondi, SJ


"Earlier today, for the first time in history, a Jesuit was named Pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. was chosen as the 266th pontiff after less than 24 hours of deliberation by the 115 voting cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Peter’s seeks to be a truly student-oriented university by providing a climate which encourages, through cura personalis, or care for the whole person, the individual growth of all members of the University community. It characterizes the care and attention with which we deal with each other, whether student, faculty, administration, or staff. We recognize that the spiritual development of the student is as important as the intellectual and physical one and we always encourage an open dialogue about issues of faith and social justice. As a Jesuit intellectual, I know Pope Francis will be committed to these ideals as well.

We pray that he will effectively face the challenges of today’s world that await him such as war, persecution, famine and damage to the environment with love, compassion and a commitment to justice." - Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D.


"Along with Jesuits and colleagues around the world, we celebrate the election of Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio as Pope Francis. As a man committed to social justice, he shares the ideals of our own institution. On Tuesday, March 19, at noon, the University community will celebrate our annual Founder's Day Mass to commemorate the establishment of our school. That is the date of the installation of the pope, so we shall be offering special prayers for his leadership. All are invited to join in this liturgy." - Rev. Michael E. Engh, SJ


"The Catholic Church has taken a historic step in naming a pope from South America, because it recognizes how much of a world church we are.  The choice by Cardinal Bergoglio of the name "Francis", in reference to St. Francis of Assisi,  is a very strong and welcomed indication of his and the church's commitment to the poor.  I am confident that he will bring the best of the deeply spiritual and richly intellectual Jesuit tradition to his ministry as the first Jesuit pope." - Rev. Stephen V. Sundborg, SJ


“We are pleased to see a son of St. Ignatius Loyola as the Successor to the Chair of St. Peter and leader of our Church. On behalf of the college, we ask that you join us in praying for Pope Francis.” - Rev. Richard P. Salmi, SJ


"On behalf of the University of Detroit Mercy community, I want to express our prayerful wishes and appreciation for Pope Francis as he begins his solemn ministry as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ for the Universal Church. We are especially pleased that Pope Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). He is well known for his commitment to social justice and his compassion for the poor.

Throughout the University community, we will be praying for him and for the Catholic Church as he guides the Church and its people in the coming years. As we rejoice in the election of the Catholic Church's new Pope, let us express our confidence and trust in Jesus Christ, who has guided the Cardinals in this important selection." - Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.


"In Francis, the Universal Church has a new Holy Father and we Jesuits a brother now serving as Bishop of Rome.  We pray that the Pope will work closely with his brother bishops and local churches to insure that the Catholic Churches around the globe more clearly and effectively witness to God's unconditional love and compassion for all persons, especially the poor and powerless." - Rev. Stephen A. Privett, SJ


"The University of Scranton shares the joy of Catholics worldwide at the selection of His Eminence Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to serve as our next Pope. Pope Francis, as he has chosen to be forever known, shares a special bond with Scranton and all Jesuit colleges and universities across the globe as the first member of the Society of Jesus to be so elevated. May we all pray for the success of his papacy and the continued vitality of the Church in service to the people of God." - Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, SJ


"Our new Pope Francis is a man who has chosen to live-out his Jesuit vow of poverty in a simple lifestyle as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. We Jesuits are so proud to call him our brother.  He has been a consistent advocate for the poorest of the poor in his lifelong commitment to social justice. 

His background in Ignatian spirituality provides in him a predisposition to the search for truth from a position of freedom and openness to the Holy Spirit. He is a holy man who has demonstrated a discerning heart and is authentic availability to go where God is calling him and, I believe, he will likewise lead the Church and the world to follow God’s urgings." - Rev. James Fleming, SJ (President-Designate)


“When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope I was completely stunned. As were many people, it seems, from whom I began to hear very quickly! But that surprise yielded quickly to a profound sense of gratitude. That the Holy Spirit should choose a man from the tradition of Ignatius Loyola to lead the Church, must be a deep consolation for anyone and everyone associated with any Jesuit ministry throughout the world.  
That Pope Francis is a Latin American Jesuit, I have no doubt that he will bring a particular care and concern for the poor and marginalized to his Pontificate, for that sensibility has been an overwhelming gift of Latin American Jesuits worldwide. " - Rev. Michael J. Graham, SJ

Quote of the week

“As a product of Catholic schools, continuing my education at a Jesuit institution was a logical part of my journey. The emphasis on using your talents and skills to improve the lives and conditions of others, rather than focusing on personal enrichment, resonated deeply with me. I truly believe that living my life in service of others - both personally and professionally - has allowed me to thrive in unimaginable ways.”
Major General Marcia Anderson, Creighton University '79

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