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Inside the Jesuits

How Pope Francis Is Changing the Church and the World

Robert Blair Kaiser

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, has captured our attention by stepping away from the papal throne, unafraid to give impromptu interviews, decentralize church governance, or explore new horizons for the greater good of the people of God. His actions and words suggest that he is here not to dominate but to serve, less inclined to preach than to listen, and to bring us back to Jesus “that we may have life and have it more abundantly.” Award-winning journalist Robert Blair Kaiser argues that the pope’s Jesuit DNA is central to understanding how Pope Francis is shaping the church and the world.

Inside the Jesuits takes readers inside the Jesuits’ head-and-heart take on faith. The author tells the story of his own Jesuit training before leaving to become a journalist and highlights how the key elements of the Jesuit formation have made Pope Francis the pope he is—like Jesus in his simplicity, launching bold administrative moves to update the Church, and daring to say and do things no other pope has said or done. He washes the feet of those in prison, including a Muslim woman. He says of homosexuals, "Who am I to judge?" To further illustrate the Jesuit DNA in action, Kaiser produces some fascinating profiles of other Jesuits and former Jesuits working the Jesuit motto, "for the greater glory of God"—which Kaiser gives a more worldly spin: "for the greater good of the people of God."

Inside the Jesuits is a powerful exploration of how the Jesuit training—to be more like Jesus—has shaped Pope Francis, a self-confessed sinner who encourages us to love our supposedly-less-worthy selves and help make a better world.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 238Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-2901-3 • Hardback • May 2014 • $37.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-2902-0 • eBook • May 2014 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
Robert Blair Kaiser was a Jesuit-in-training for ten years before leaving to pursue a career in journalism. He served as an award-winning religion reporter for The New York Times, CBS News, Newsweek, and Time. He is the author of sixteen other books, including A Church in Search of Itself and he is an internationally recognized commentator on Vatican II.
1: A Jesuit Pope
2: What To Expect of a Jesuit Pope
3: A New Vision
4: The Jesuit DNA
5: The Interview(s)
6: Vatican II
7: Other Religions
8: Liberation Theology
9: Pioneers
10: Not Just About Stray Dogs
11: Still Jesuits
12: The Man in the White Suit
As a journalist and author of 16 previous books, Kaiser has a long-standing interest in church affairs, honed when he was a New York Times bureau chief in Rome. More significantly, he was himself a Jesuit-in-training for 10 years. . . .This is a book written, not by a disinterested outsider, but by one of the club. Throughout, Kaiser is keen to emphasize not only that Pope Francis is different to his predecessors and will lead the church in a new way, but that the nature of his difference lies precisely in the fact that he is a Jesuit. The thrust of the argument is summed up in a quote from another member: 'Jesuits are never content with the status quo.'
Irish Independent

Robert Blair Kaiser's analysis of what makes Pope Francis tick is a wonderful read and to be promoted. . . . The book is an excellent read. . . . I highly recommend this book. It is insightful and well worth the effort of a read. Good on Kaiser for bringing it to us.
The Catholic Register

Throughout the book, Kaiser’s contentions and observations are rarely dull and often intriguing.
America: The National Catholic Review

Inside the Jesuits offers an introduction to the Jesuits and the things that seem to make them providentially unique to some and regrettably controversial to others. Either way, it is an engaging read.

Pope Francis has been boldly changing the world through his everyday encounters, impromptu interviews, and down-to-earth attitude. Robert Blair Kaiser argues in Inside the Jesuits (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014) that these actions are caused by the pope having 'Jesuit DNA.' Once a Jesuit-in-training himself before leaving to pursue a career in journalism, Kaiser shows how Pope Francis’ personality has been shaped by the basic elements in Jesuit formation.
U.S. Catholic Book Club

[Inside the Jesuits is a] very positive book.
The Jersey Journal

Inside the Jesuits gives the reader a new, sharper lens with which to look at Pope Francis’ activities. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with Robert Kaiser’s conclusions, this insightful book is worthy of consideration and study.
Contemporary Christian Readings

One of the most interesting aspects of Kaiser's book, and perhaps one of its key contributions, is its expert quick survey of the kind of thinking-on-the-frontiers that Jesuit theologians (many of them hounded and attacked by the two popes prior to Francis) have been doing for some time now — thinking that has clearly influenced the current pope, and will now begin to permeate the entire church through his new opening to theological discussion, and, in particular, liberation theology.

Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis is Changing the World and the Church by noted journalist and former Jesuit Robert Blair Kaiser, offers insights on the pope’s 'Jesuit DNA.'. . . .My Rating: Read this book if you are the type of person who likes to know the 'why' behind people and events.
Nihil Obstat

This lively book argues that the now mostly liberal Jesuit Order has shaped Pope Francis and has laid the groundwork for a reforming papacy. . . .The outside world is hoping for changes in church-state relations and in policies that affect the rest of humanity.
Voice of Reason

The late Robert Blair Kaiser has written one of the first treatments of Pope Francis, and has done so in a journalistic style which integrates memoir with some new insights. . . .Kaiser’s book does help highlight some aspects of the North American Jesuit experience that historians no doubt will find of great interest in years to come. This book can be used as a resource for piecing together America’s modern Jesuit history. For example, future historians will find value in the published discussions between Kaiser and the embattled ex-Jesuit peace activist John Dear. Kaiser also wistfully, yet with great detail, recalls the engagement of Alinskyite Jesuits in California and their founding of pico, the Pacific Institute for Community, which lobbied leftward for housing and labor goals during the 1970s.
Journal of Jesuit Studies

Robert Blair Kaiser provides a poignant and informed account of the notably wide appeal of Pope Francis. Kaiser opens up the mystery.
James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

Kaiser writes with the enthusiasm and insight of one Jesuit for another Jesuit, Pope Francis. A brilliant journalist with immense experience, he explores Jesuit DNA to predict change in the papacy and Church. It excites with surprising revelations and perceptions. This is a must read for changing times.
Jane Anderson, University of Western Australia; author of Priests in Love

I have known Robert Kaiser since we both covered Vatican Two back in the sixties. He had an inside track, having been ten years a Jesuit, and he has now made an eloquent case for the hope that Pope Francis will transform the sclerotic Catholic Church. I hope that he is right.
Ted Morgan, biographer of Winston Churchill and Somerset Maugham; Pulitzer prizewinner

Kaiser, like Pope Francis, is 'a Jesuit at heart' and he knows what makes Jesuits tick. He is remarkably well-informed and connected, and is thus very well placed to tell us why Francis is turning the modern papacy upside-down. It is because of the pope's Jesuit DNA: the daring to think and act outside the box, to be free to innovate, to remain flexible, to adapt constantly, to set ambitious goals, to think globally, to move quickly, to take risks, to make mistakes—all to find the presence of God in the world.
Simon Bryden-Brook, Catholics for a Changing Church UK

Not for the first time, Robert Kaiser has got it absolutely right. Things really are different under this new Pope, and Kaiser's gift is to explain why, in terms of the 'Jesuit DNA' that are in the very fiber of Pope Francis' being. This is a remarkable insight into a Papacy that is strikingly new and that bids fair to bring to fulfillment the unfinished business of the Second Vatican Council (and here, of course, Kaiser's 'inside track' is enormously illuminating). There is a rollicking ride through the centuries of Jesuit history, at times inspiring, and at times uncomfortable reading for contemporary Jesuits. Kaiser shows how we are today living in an irreversibly new world: God is at work.
Nicholas King, S.J., Oxford University

Opening Inside the Jesuits is like tearing the wrappings off a gift you thought lost in the snowdrifts of the stern winters that settled on the Church during the long papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Once opened, Robert Blair Kaiser's book brims with the rising light and warmth of spring in his seamlessly interwoven stories of Pope Francis and the Jesuit tradition he fulfills as, with the humility of Saint Francis and the spiritual depth of Saint Ignatius, he sets the table of the Church and invites the world to take the first places at the feast that Vatican II prepared for it. Nobody does this with the insight or art of Robert Blair Kaiser who was prepared for this challenge by his own interwoven years as a Jesuit seminarian and as a journalist who covered Vatican II for TIME magazine. Kaiser finds the Jesuit tradition with its deep discipline and its commitment ever to seek out the little explored margins of human knowledge and experience exemplified in Pope Francis who, because he is not defensive makes the world comfortable enough to lower its own defenses toward the Church. This is an engrossing and, yes, a thrilling book to read by anyone drawn toward this deeply spiritual and yet profoundly human Pope. In short, Kaiser tells us, just what you would expect from a Jesuit Pope.
Eugene Cullen Kennedy, emeritus professor of psychology, Loyola University of Chicago

Among the few living journalists to have reported the Second Vatican Council, Robert Kaiser offers a unique and rich perspective as he connects the Catholic story over five decades. So anchored, his Jesuit credentials add yet another special vantage. The Pope Francis story remains larger than most can yet imagine. This book helps explain why.
Tom Fox, editor, National Catholic Reporter

It is rare that you can get to know a pope from the ‘inside’. Yet that is precisely what Robert Kaiser has done. He has got ‘inside’ Pope Francis by highlighting how the pope’s spirituality and training has made being a Jesuit part of his DNA. Francis is a Jesuit to the core of his being and Kaiser spells out with lucidity and style what this will mean for his papacy. With an insider’s eye for detail, Kaiser introduces us to the spirituality and creativity that characterizes the best men in the Jesuit tradition, men who are always out ‘on the edge’. He sees Francis as being the first pope for centuries who will challenge the church to move outside its comfort zone, as well as being precisely the style of church leader that Vatican Council II wanted. Inside the Jesuits is both provocative and reassuring: ‘provocative’ when Kaiser outlines just how challenging Francis’ approach to being bishop of Rome will be. And ‘reassuring’ in that Francis is the most Christ-like pope Catholicism has had for centuries.
Paul Collins, author of The Birth of the West

A compelling read if only to hear Robert Kaiser wax rhapsodic about a pope! But there's more, for Kaiser writes from that peculiar 21st century space where a "former" Jesuit can yet profess his enduring affection for the order and the church.
Tom Roberts, editor at large, National Catholic Reporter

Only Robert Blair Kaiser could have pulled this off. Inside the Jesuits, an admiring analysis of what makes the Jesuits such extraordinary achievers in the life of the Post-Reformation Church, is woven seamlessly into a penetrating, astute, and thoroughly engaging reflection on the promise of the first Jesuit Pope. An extraordinary achievement!
Donald Cozzens, John Carroll University, author of Notes from the Underground: The Spiritual Journal of a Secular Priest

At once chatty, insightful, and profound, this part-memoir, part study of Pope Francis as a Jesuit by the doyen of American Catholic religious journalists will delight and inform a wide audience. Written in an engaging style, it is deeply informative of how and why Cardinal Bergoglio was elected, and what we may and may not expect from his papacy. Robert Kaiser places Pope Francis wisely and well amid his Jesuit peers and the Order’s history and charism, puts both Kaiser himself and the pope into conversation with major events and movements in the last fifty years of the Catholic Church’s history, and conveys so well the sense of constructive excitement that Francis’s election has brought to the Church.
Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies, Fairfield University

Robert Kaiser has written a spirited defense of the social gospel, with special attention to Pope Francis and his "Jesuit DNA." As an ex-Jesuit I found this enlightening and indeed persuasive at important points. His hopes for a curing of the papal curia and his stories of Jesuit theologians' trail-blazing in matters of faith were of special interest.
Jim Bowman, author of Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968

Introduces readers to the basics of Jesuit spirituality and training

Shows how the “Jesuit DNA” shapes the work of Pope Francis

Includes profiles of contemporary Jesuits and former Jesuits, showing the “Jesuit DNA” at work to make a better world

Illuminates how Francis’ papacy illustrates the words of a Jesus who inspires us to serve others selflessly and with joy