(Reuters) - Spaniard Adolfo Nicolas was elected the Jesuits' "black pope", as the head of the largest and perhaps most influential, controversial and prestigious Catholic order is known, in a secret conclave on Saturday.
Nicolas, 71, has run Jesuit operations in east Asia and Oceania since 2004 and spent most of his career in the Far East after being ordained in Tokyo in 1967.
The order said in a statement that Nicolas had been elected to succeed Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who received permission from Pope Benedict to retire as head of the order formally known as the Society of Jesus at the age of 79.
(CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI gave his consent on Saturday to the election of the Spanish Jesuit Adolfo Nicolás as the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
The 217 delegates gathered since January 7 for the 35th General Congregation, chose Fr. Nicolás in the second round of voting. Nicolás hails from Palencia (Spain) and was born on April 29, 1936.
The New Superior General of the Jesuits has lived for the past 43 years in Asia, especially in Japan, where he studied and worked as professor of Theology at Tokyo’s “Sophia University”, founded by the Jesuits in 1913.
Nicolás was present at the General Congregation as the delegate for Eastern Asia and Oceania.
The successor of Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach joined the Jesuits at Aranjuez (Spain) in 1953, received his degree in philosophy in Madrid and was then moved to Tokyo. Upon his arrival in Tokyo, he completed his study of theology and was then ordained priest on March 17, 1967.
Between 1968 and 1971 he studied Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and from 1978 to 1984 became Director of the Pastoral Institute of Manila (Philippines).
The new Superior General was also Rector of the Novitiate in Tokyo (1991-1993,) Provincial of the Jesuits in Japan (1993-1999) and from 2004 to 2007 served as moderator of the Jesuit Conference for Eastern Asia and Oceania.
Fr. Adolfo Nicolás S.J. becomes the 29th successor of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the leader of the Society of Jesus, which, according to their latest figures has 19,126 members.
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