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.
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.
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 on 13 February 2021, aged 93.
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. 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.
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.") 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") 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.
The 2019 film The Two Popes shows different aspects of the life of Jorge Bergoglio. Lisandro Fiks plays Jalics when Bergoglio enters the seminary, while Bergoglio tries to make the Jesuits stop their work with the poor, then followed by a scene with reconciliation between Bergoglio and Jalics.
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- "Ungarn: Jesuit Jalics gestorben". Vatican News (in German). 2021-02-13.
- "Gries Path". Haus Gries (in German). Retrieved 2021-02-13.
- Obituary, indcatholicnews.com; accessed 16 February 2021.
- Bürgler, Bernhard. "Pater Franz Jálics SJ in Budapest verstorben". jesuiten.org (in German). Retrieved 15 February 2021.
- 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.
- "Argentine Cardinal Named in Kidnap Lawsuit". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 17 April 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Jesuit Jalics nimmt Stellung zu den Vorwürfen gegen den neuen Papst". KATH.NET. 15 March 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
- "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.
- "Public Position Statement". German Province of Jesuits. 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- 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.
- "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.
- Martinelli, Marissa (Nov 26, 2019). "What's Fact and What's Fiction in The Two Popes". Slate. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
- Literature by and about Franz Jalics in the German National Library catalogue
- see the Jálics genealogy in Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven (2020-09-02) [2010-07-01]. "Records of the Tötösy de Zepetnek Family / A Zepetneki Tötösy család adattára" (PDF). CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture. Library Series (in English and Hungarian). Purdue University. ISSN 1923-9580. Retrieved 8 September 2020.