Pope Francis is the first member of the Society of Jesus, the Catholic Church’s largest religious order of men, to be elected to the papacy in its nearly five-hundred-year existence, even though the Society is known for the special vow of obedience to the papacy taken by its leading members. Yet despite that oath of loyalty, Jesuits and popes have frequently been at loggerheads, eventually leading to one pope imprisoning the Jesuit superior general and entirely abolishing the Society. While recounting the more significant events in the history of the Jesuit order, this book pays particular attention to the controversies that have surrounded it, especially those concerning human freedom.
Michael Walsh has been associated with the Society of Jesus for over fifty years, for part of that time as a member. He has been a frequent contributor to The Tablet as well as a regular broadcaster for the BBC and other, including North American, television and radio channels. He has written, edited, or translated two dozen books, including histories of the papacy.