Peace activist priest dismissed from Jesuits
Dismissal decree says Fr Dear was "obstinately disobedient"
Picture: Los Angeles Loyolan
- Joshua J. McElwee for National Catholic Reporter
- United States
- January 8, 2014
A popular U.S. Catholic priest and author known for his peace writings and some 75 arrests for civil disobedience actions across the country has been dismissed from the international Jesuit religious order, which says he was "obstinately disobedient" to its directives.
Removal of Fr. John Dear caps 32 years in the order for the priest, who has been known for protesting a wide range of issues, including U.S. policies on Latin America, nuclear weapons development, and the cooperation of Jesuit educational institutions with American military recruiting programs such as the ROTC.
The dismissal also raises the specter of Pope Francis, the first head of the Catholic church to belong to the Jesuit order, having to confirm the dismissal of one of the order's members.
Dear, a longtime NCR columnist, writes about the dismissal in his weekly column, posted Tuesday. He writes that he is leaving "with a heavy heart ... because the Society of Jesus in the U.S. has changed so much since I entered in 1982 and because my Jesuit superiors have tried so hard over the decades to stop my work for peace."
Dear also made available to NCR copies of letters from both the Jesuit headquarters in Rome and the Vatican congregation responsible for matters concerning religious life, notifying him of his dismissal. The specific charge against Dear listed in the documents is his refusal to live in a Jesuit community in Baltimore.
The decree from the Jesuits, signed by the order's international superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, and dated June 19, says Dear has been "obstinately disobedient to the lawful order of Superiors in a grave matter."
Dear, Nicolás states, "was duly informed ... that his failure to obey the command that he return to the specified house of the Order by a specified date would be cause for his dismissal from the Society of Jesus."
Nicolás says the matter came to the attention of the Jesuit officials in Rome following a request for action from the Maryland province of the order, one of seven provinces the order maintains in the U.S. and the one in which Dear became a Jesuit.
Nicolás says he and five other members of the Jesuits' international council then held a vote on whether to dismiss Dear, which resulted in a unanimous vote for dismissal.
Source: National Catholic Reporter