( dpa )- Spanish cleric Adolfo Nicolas Saturday in Rome was elected the new Superior-General of the Society of Jesus - the Jesuits - the community said on its website.
Nicolas, elected after several days' meeting in Rome of the society's General Congregation, is the successor of Dutch Peter-Hans Kolvenbach , who in mid-January resigned from office after 24 years.
According to the Catholic order, Nicolas was born in Spain in 1936 and became a novice in the province Toledo in 1953.
He studied theology in Tokyo, where he was ordained a priest in 1967. Nicolas became professor for systematic theology in Tokyo four years later.
Between 1978 and 1984 Nicolas was director of the pastoral institute of Manila, and in 2004 became moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.
Pope Benedict XVI was the first to be informed about the outcome of the secret election.
New Superior General Nicolas was due to celebrate a thanksgiving mass with the delegates of the General Congregation on Sunday.
The Society of Jesus, which was founded by Ignatius Loyola in the 16th century, is the largest Catholic order with some 19,000 members worldwide. It is headed by the Superior-General, who is based in Rome, and has 91 provinces.
The General Congregation is the Society's highest legislative assembly, consisting of representatives from the provinces.
The order is characterized by its close connection to the pope and its apostolic mission.