Franz Jalics

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Franz Jalics
Born(1927-11-16)November 16, 1927
Budapest, Hungary
DiedFebruary 13, 2021(2021-02-13) (aged 93)
Budapest, Hungary
OccupationJesuit priest
Known forAbduction and detention by an Argentinian death squad

Franz Jalics S.J. (Hungarian: Jálics Ferenc; 16 November 1927 – 13 February 2021)[1] was a Hungarian-born Jesuit priest and author of books on Christian spirituality.


Jalics was born in Budapest, Hungary. At a young age, he attended a school for cadets. He had a key spiritual experience while stationed in Germany, and after the Second World War, in 1947 he joined the Jesuit order. He studied philosophy in Germany, and later in Belgium.[2][3]

In 1956, he was sent to Chile, and one year later to Buenos Aires, to continue his studies. After being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he stayed in Argentina, and later became a professor of theology and the spiritual director of young Jesuits. He left South-America in 1977, moved first to the USA, and then in 1978 to Gries, Germany, where he gave contemplative retreats. He developed a special method of Christian meditation combining elements of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola with Jesus Prayer.[2]

Until 2004, he was the director of Haus Gries, the retreat centre he had founded in Wilhelmsthal, Upper Franconia. In 2017, he moved back to Budapest, where he died from COVID-19 complications on 13 February 2021, aged 93.[2][4][5]


While doing social work in Argentina in 1976 during the Dirty War in a poor neighborhood, Jalics and Orlando Yorio were captured by a death squad, abducted, and held captive for five months. Jesuit Father General Pedro Arrupe in Rome was informed by letter during the abduction. Both Jalics and Orlando Yorio left the Jesuit Order, but were later offered reinstatement to it: Jalics accepted but Yorio did not.[6] On 15 April 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J.—then the Archbishop of Buenos Aires (and who became Pope Francis in 2013)—as superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina, accusing him of involvement in the kidnapping.[7]

On 15 March 2013, Fr. Jalics made a public statement on the occasion of the election of his former superior, who as Pope had taken the same name (Ferenc is Hungarian for Francis), describing how they met up again years later and had concelebrated Mass together: "Ich bin mit den Geschehnissen versöhnt und betrachte sie meinerseits als abgeschlossen." ("I have been reconciled to the events and from my side consider them closed.")[8][9] Fr. Jalics wished God's providential blessing on the Pope: "Ich wünsche Papst Franziskus Gottes reichen Segen für sein Amt." (signed) P. Franz Jalics SJ, 15. März 2013 ("I hope God will bless Pope Francis abundantly in his duties")[10] Fr. Jalics subsequently elaborated on his experiences, in particular how a female lay catechist was culpable for their denunciations, "Wie ich in meiner früheren Erklärung deutlich gemacht habe, sind wir wegen einer Katechetin verhaftet worden, die zuerst mit uns zusammenarbeitete und später in die Guerilla eintrat [aufgrund eines Übersetzungsfehlers wurde sie in der vorigen Erklärung als Mann bezeichnet]." ("As I made perfectly clear in my prior statement, we were arrested because of a female catechist, who had at first collaborated with us and then later joined the guerillas [whose identity, owing to a translation error, was characterized as male in the earlier statement].") The second public statement was issued a week later, March 20, 2013, also through the Jesuits' German Province.[11][12]

In fiction[edit]

The 2019 film The Two Popes shows different aspects of the life of Jorge Bergoglio, with Lisandro Fiks playing Jalics. Jalics is shown extensively throughout pivotal moments of Bergoglio's spiritual life, from the moment Bergoglio joins the seminary, to a later scene where Bergoglio tries to make the Jesuits, Jalics among them, to stop their work with the poor. It is implied by the film, though Bergoglio did not denounce him directly, he removed the protection of the Church from Jalics' mission, indirectly leading to Jalics' arrest, imprisonment and torture. Near the end, a scene of reconciliation between Bergoglio and Jalics was shown.[13]


In English[edit]

  • Contemplative Retreat. An introduction to the contemplative way to life and to the Jesus prayer (translated by Lucia Wiedenhöver), Longwood: Xulon Press, 2003, ISBN 1-594671-56-7.
  • Called to Share in His Life: Introduction to a Contemplative Way of Life and the Jesus Prayer (a Retreat), Mumbai: St Pauls, 2010, ISBN 81-7109-398-1
  • The Contemplative Way. Quietly savoring God's presence (translated by Matthias Altrichter), New York: Paulist Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-809-14722-9.

In German[edit]

In Spanish[edit]

  • Aprendiendo a Orar, San Pablo 1984, ISBN 9788428510097.
  • Ejercicios de contemplación. Introducción a la vida contemplativa y a la invocación de Jesús, Ediciones Sígueme 1998, ISBN 9788430113309.
  • Cambios en la fe, San Pablo 2007, ISBN 9789508613134.
  • El camino de la contemplación, Paulinas 2010, ISBN 9500915766.
  • Jesús, maestro de meditación: el acompañamiento espiritual en el evangelio, PPC 2015, ISBN 9788428827935.
  • La fase contemplativa de los Ejercicios ignacianos, Cristianisme i Justícia (Fundació Lluís Espinal) 2018, ISBN 978-8497304108.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ungarn: Jesuit Jalics gestorben". Vatican News (in German). 2021-02-13.
  2. ^ a b c "Gries Path". Haus Gries (in German). Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  3. ^ Obituary,; accessed 16 February 2021.
  4. ^ Bürgler, Bernhard. "Pater Franz Jálics SJ in Budapest verstorben". (in German). Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  5. ^ Siedlecka, Jo. "Fr Franz Jalics has died". independent catholic news. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  6. ^ Verbitsky, Horacio (2 May 2010). "Los signos del cardenal". Página/12 (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Argentine Cardinal Named in Kidnap Lawsuit". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 17 April 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Jesuit Jalics nimmt Stellung zu den Vorwürfen gegen den neuen Papst". KATH.NET. 15 March 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  9. ^ "Jesuiten-Pater aus Oberfranken Junta-Opfer Jalics mit Papst versöhnt". Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Public Position Statement". German Province of Jesuits. 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  11. ^ Watts, Jonathan (March 21, 2013). "Pope Francis did not denounce me to Argentinian junta, says priest Francisco Jalics, who was imprisoned for five months in the 1970s, says he and the new pope reconciled in 2000". Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Second Declaration of Father Franz Jalics SJ". German Jesuit Web (in German). 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  13. ^ Martinelli, Marissa (Nov 26, 2019). "What's Fact and What's Fiction in The Two Popes". Slate. Retrieved 8 September 2020.

External links[edit]