HomeSt. Ignatius LoyolaOn Ignatius Day, How to Disagree

On Ignatius Day, How to Disagree

St. Ignatius with AMDG in book

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.

Jim Manney
Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. What a wonderful approach to conflict and how freeing to realize that God could be working on both sides of any given disagreement. St. Ignatius was so wise.

  2. I love this story about Ignatius. What good thoughts for approaching the conflict with have in the Church and in our country during this divisive political season. Thanks for sharing!

  3. People “labor in the vineyard” or “the sheepfold” for a lifetime and perhaps look back to count their profit: how many converted?
    Who can ever be sure that they have exactly the right thing in mind for someone else? Not only, “Who can know the mind of God?”, but “Who can know what God intends for my neighbor?”
    It is hard enough to get a neighbor to agree on the urgency of taking the trash out, and, half the time, it’s I who’s made the mistake.
    So if ministry is the act or attempt to bring temporary local peace of mind to people so that they may see what’s right in front of them, that seems pretty good. It also suggests my own discipline: let me see what is right in front of me. And who.

  4. Ignatius was a wonderful man. Wish I could have met him, Eagerly anticipating a long conversation with him in the life of Heaven!

  5. How brave to bring upon yourself an opposing view. I know I learn so much about myself when I have a safe environment to question ideas. I have often found that when I have questioned some aspect of the church and/or spirituality I am not only corrected, but I am also more enriched from asking the question. There have been also times when I have made the authority figure think outside their box, enriching their experience. I really don’t like to argue, but I love a healthy discussion of opposing views.


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