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Expulsion of the Jesuits

They had been expelled over and over again from almost every Catholic country in Europe, always, however, coming back again to renew their work when the storm had subsided; and this fact has been adduced as a proof that there is something iniquitous in the very nature of the organization. It was even found necessary to expel them from some of the Italian states for their licentiousness ; and the horror which was felt through Europe at the trial of the Jesuit Girard, for the alleged violation of Cadire, an innocent girl, at die time of confession, was hardly forgotten. It was now becoming, every day, more evident to the world, that the Jesuits were not aiming to promote virtue and religion, but their own interests. This was confirmed by the complaints of merchants at the extensive traffic of the Society of Jesus in the products of their foreign missionary stations.

It cannot be denied that the republic of natives, formed by them, under the authority of Spain, in Paraguay and Uruguay, in which they ruled with absolute power, and which, in 1753, contained nearly 100,000 subjects, was conducted by them with consummate policy and skill, and was, perhaps, the best means for civilizing those savages. But they made it also a trafficking establishment for the emolument of the order, was shown on occasion of a treaty of commerce, by which Spain, in 1750, gave up seven districts of this country to Portugal. The resistance which the natives made to the Portuguese, with an army of 14,000 men, commanded by Jesuits, finally obliged the contracting powere to annul the treaty.

The Portuguese Jesuits, though they disclaimed all concern in this affair, underwent a prosecution, which was not terminated, when an attempt upon the life of the king of Portugal hastened their downfall. The minister ??rtugal made out their agency in this attempt to a high degree of probability, and finally succeeded, in 1759, in expelling them from Portugal, and confiscating their possessions, by an edict, in which the king declared them guilty of high treason.

Before this first blow, the order consisted of 24 professed-houses, 369 colleges, 170 seminaries, 61 novitiate-houses, 335 residences, and 273 missions in heathen and Protestant countries, and 22,589 members of all ranks, half of whom were ordained priests. In France, where Choiseul and Pompadour were unfavorably disposed towards them, their ruin was occasioned by the trade which they continued to carry on, in spite of all the pope's orders to the contrary. In 1743, they had established a trading-house at Martinique, by their deputy, fumer La Valette, under pretence of a mission, which soon monopolized nearly the whole trade of that and the neighboring islands, and had commercial connexions with the principal merchants of France.

Lorenzo Ricci, their general, refusing to make any change in their constitution, by the declaration, Sinl aunt, attl non siriL (Let them be as they are, or not be), the king issued a decree, in 1764, for abolishing the order, in all the French states, os u mere political society, dangerous to religion, whose object was self-aggrandizement. In vain did Clement XIII, in a bull issued at the same time, recommend the Jesuits as the most pious and useful members of the church. They were also driven out of Spain, in 1767, and soon after from Naples, I'arma and Malta., by the efforts of Choiseul and the Spanish minister Anuida.

Believing that the Society of Jesus had acquired too much wealth and influence over Spanish affairs, Charles III expelled the Jesuits from all Spanish-controlled territories in 1767 and turned over possessions controlled by the Jesuits to other religious orders. The expulsion of the Jesuits left a vacuum in Spanish America that the Dominicans and Franciscans rushed to fill. From this milieu of high-seas drama, international tensions, and messy domestic politics emerged the idea of extending Spain's reach into Alta, or Upper, California. Spain was increasingly conscious of the need to consolidate its hold on the Pacific coast. At the same time, the expulsion of the Jesuits from Baja (Lower) California gave the Franciscans increased influence. With the Jesuits out the way, the Franciscans could push their plan to expand the mission frontier into Alta California.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:09:08 ZULU