The following comes from a Jan. 27 email sent to Cal Catholic by one of its readers.
Having the day off to take my dad to the doctor I read in this mornings Fresno Bee that a John Dear is to speak at the Newman Center at Fresno State. The name rings a bell and a little Internet research turns up that it is the expelled John Dear, former Jesuit. I decide to call the chancellery and they suggest that perhaps it is a different John Dear. They give me the number to the Newman center (559.436.3434) to call and check. I do and speak to a man who identified himself as “Deacon John.” He says that yes, it is the Jesuit expellee John Dear speaking but that that was an “internal matter between him and his order.” That the “Newman center had had controversial speakers in the past” (I don’t think he was referencing the former pastor who outed himself from the pulpit) and that he didn’t think John Dear would cause a scandal. I told him I disagreed but thanked him for the politeness of his reply. He asked my name and I told him my name Blake.
Wow. O Tempora, o mores! How radical does one have to be to be expelled by the Jesuits?
The following comes from a Jan. 7 article in the National Catholic Reporter.
John Dear, Jesuit known for peace witness, dismissed from order
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.
Jesuit Fr. George Murphy, who as the rector of the order’s community in Berkeley, Calif., from 1985 to 1991 oversaw Dear while he attended the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, said he thought Dear was “a fine man….”
“I think he was a little impulsive and I suspect he’s still got a bit of that of him — but he’s just got a keen sense of justice and a desire for peace in the world,” said Murphy, who recalled attending a protest with Dear in San Francisco in 1989 following the killing of several Jesuits by U.S.-trained soldiers at the order’s Central American University in El Salvador.
“I know he’s had trouble with superiors at different points in his life,” said Murphy, the director of spiritual formation at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. “And I suspect he always will. He’s the kind of guy that I would like to give leeway to….”
To read entire National Catholic Reporter story, click here.