SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown, who trained as a Jesuit, said Wednesday that he is pleased to see a Jesuit elected pope.
The former seminarian was asked his opinion about the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina after an event to promote solar power and wind energy.
“I’m glad he’s a Jesuit,” Brown told reporters during a question-and-answer session. “He is from Argentina, so that might give him a broader perspective to see the world through the Southern Hemisphere, but what the hell do I know? I thought Jesuits weren’t allowed to consider higher office. At least they weren’t in my day.”
As a young man, Brown spent two years studying to become a priest at a Jesuit seminary in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart in Los Gatos. After serving as governor from 1975 to 1983, he also studied Zen Buddhism at a Japanese monastery and later briefly worked alongside Mother Teresa in India.
Before commenting on the selection of the pope, Brown referenced the papal conclave while answering a question about the state’s prison reorganization. He acknowledged that the prison changes have not been perfect, but added, “We don’t have that prerogative they have over there in Rome of infallibility.”
Brown was one of many Jesuits across the country who were excited about Pope Francis’ election.
Father Tom Rausch, who teaches theology at Loyola Marymount University, said he was actually surprised the one-time Jesuit was chosen by at least 77 cardinals.
“It blew me away. Although he was the runner-up at the last conclave when Pope Benedict was elected, his name was never mentioned…this time around,” he said.
Rausch said the new pontiff ceased to be a Jesuit when he became a bishop, but hopes the pope’s roots will spur interest in the order.
“What makes a Jesuit… a Jesuit… is the experience of making the spiritual exercise,” he said.
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