Pope Francis and Adolfo NicolasFather Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, plans to submit his resignation in late 2016. He has the approval of Pope Francis. Father Nicolas, 78, is citing his advanced age. He was elected to head the Society of Jesus on 19 January 2008.
This is a surprise announcement that does not represent a good discernment, unless there are other issues, other and age, at play that we are not privy to hear.
Nicolas wrote to the whole Society today: “Several years have passed since my election as Superior General of the Society and I have recently reached the age of 78. Reflecting on the coming years, I have reached the personal conviction that I should take the needed steps towards submitting my resignation to a General Congregation. After obtaining the initial approval of the Assistants ad providentiam and having informed his Holiness Pope Francis, I formally consulted the Assistants ad providentiam and the Provincials, as our law requires (NC 362). The result of the consultation is favorable towards the convening of a General Congregation.”
According to the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus state, Father Nicolas has convoked a General Congregation of Jesuits –the 36th since 1540 to elect his successor “during the final months of 2016.”
Until the General Congregation accepts his resignation, Nicolas remains Superior General.  The successor will be elected and approved by the Roman Pontiff.
The last Jesuit to resign was Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the 29th General who served from 1983-2008, who succeeded the Servant of God Father Pedro Arrupe.