I was reminded of this by a tweet I saw last night:
For those of us not in the know, what is the implication of the fact that he's a Jesuit? Intellectual? Liberal?
And I wanted to answer him: Non-Catholics shouldn't notice any difference at all; Jesuits are just Catholics.
This morning I read in the Daily Beast, "Pope Francis Is a Jesuit: Seven Things You Need to Know About the Society of Jesus." Included was this old chestnut (my emphasis):
With its focus on education, the Jesuit order has been linked to some of the best universities in the world. In the United States, Georgetown was the first Jesuit university, founded in 1789. Today, there are 28 Jesuit universities and colleges in the United Sates alone (including Georgetown, Fordham University, Loyola University, and Boston College), and there are approximately 189 Jesuit institutions of higher learning throughout the world. Since its founding, Jesuits are known for free-thinking, which has helped make its universities so well-regarded. Pope Francis attended Universidad del Salvador, a Jesuit institution in Buenos Aires.
Quick! What's the premier Catholic university in America? Did you say Notre Dame? If so, did you know that the South Bend institution is not run by the Jesuits? Did you even care?
Now, all of those Jesuit schools listed in the above paragraph are excellent universities. No question about it. But, really, when was the last time you heard someone say, "Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Fordham?" Or, "Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Boston College?" Or, even here in Chicago, "Northwestern, the U. of C. and Loyola?" Never? Then why do Catholics think that the Jesuits and their schools are so special? No one else does.