Rorate Caeli

Jesuit General to resign in 2016 due to advanced age.
And the Society of Jesus? Still aging, and still shrinking.

Today's announcement by the Jesuit Curia that the General of their Order, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas SJ, will be resigning in late 2016 due to "advanced age" naturally raises the question: how are the Jesuits doing? How many Jesuits are there, after 49 years of aggiornamento and of the post-Conciliar "springtime"?

As of January 1, 2014, according to a report published on March 25 in Populi (citing statistics published on that same day by the Society of Jesus), there were 16,986 Jesuits worldwide: 12,107 priests, 1,331 lay brothers, 2,842 scholastics and 706 novices: a decrease of 268 members over the previous year. The report itself is deceptively titled "Gesuiti, aumentano le vocazioni" -- "Jesuits, an increase of vocations" -- due to there being 706 Jesuit novices as of Jan. 1, 2014 as compared to 699 in 2012. (The source for the figure of 699 novices is not given.)

Unfortunately even that little statistic does not seem to be accurate, insofar as pre-2014 figures are concerned. A complete set of statistics from 1974 to 2013 on the website of the Jesuit Curia, published on April 10, 2013 gives a slightly different picture: As of Jan. 1, 2013, there were a total of 17,287 Jesuits: 12,298 priests, 1,400 lay brothers, 2,878 scholastics and 711 novices. 

If the Populi statistics for Jan. 1, 2014 are accurate, then the real decrease of Jesuits since Jan. 1, 2013 has been by 301 members (and not 268), and there has been a decrease of 5 novices rather than an increase of 7 novices. Priests, lay brothers, and scholastics also saw a diminution of their numbers

And how many Jesuits were there in 1966? There were 36,038, of whom 20,301 were priests. (Source.)