Organizational Dilemmas, Symbolic Conflicts, Structural Problems

Peter McDonough and Eugene C. Bianchi

in Passionate Uncertainty

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780520230552
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930773 | DOI:
Organizational Dilemmas, Symbolic Conflicts, Structural Problems

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In religious orders such as the Society of Jesus, practical problems frequently have political undercurrents. When Jesuits and former Jesuits ponder the challenges facing the Society, they rank issues in rough ascending order of seriousness. The first set consists mostly of inside controversies involving strategic decisions about the social justice agenda as compared to other corporate goals. A second cluster of controversies comes loaded with altogether heavier symbolic freight. A third set of challenges bears down almost fatalistically on both the Society and the Vatican from the outside. The clearest illustration of this interconnectedness is the bundle of issues involving the role of women in Catholicism. The convergence of all these conflicts and difficulties—the infighting over apostolic direction, the tension between the order and the hierarchical moralism of Rome, and the onslaught of structural and cultural changes that undermine traditional understandings of the priesthood—puts the Society of Jesus in an extremely tight spot.

Keywords: social justice; Catholicism; symbolic freight; priesthood; cultural changes

Chapter.  9820 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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