To mark St. Ignatius’s feast day, I thought I would tell one of my favorite stories about him.
In 1552, Pope Julius III announced plans to make another Jesuit a cardinal. Ignatius detested the idea; Jesuits were committed to poverty, and the office of cardinal at the time brought with it wealth and a luxurious life. Ignatius lobbied hard to scuttle the idea, writing that “If I did not act thus, I would be quite certain that I would not give a good account of myself before God Our Lord.” But he went on to say that others were free to disagree with him: “the same Spirit could inspire me to take one point of view for some reasons and inspire others to the contrary for other reasons.” (The pope eventually changed his mind.)
Think about that. Ignatius thought that it was OK for people to disagree with him about a matter he thought was important. In fact, God could be moving each party in the dispute to hold the views they had. Ignatius could be wrong (though he thought he was right). God could be allowing this clash of views for some larger purpose.
Imagine what debate in the church would be like if people held their views as humbly as Ignatius did. Imagine our politics conducted this way. That’s a lovely thought on St. Ignatius’s feast day.